The ERC has awarded top-up funding to fifty ERC grant holders via its Proof of Concept Grants, to explore the commercial or societal potential of their ERC-funded frontier research results. The grants are part of the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.
The awarded projects cover a variety of topics: revealing how the algorithms that determine our personalised feeds on social media actually work, using organoids to test treatments for late stage cancer, creating low cost, greener batteries, and making wind turbines more efficient. See more examples of funded projects.
Commissioner Carlos Moedas said: "The grants awarded today show how we can transform top science into practical innovations that will benefit everyone. Investing in research and innovation means we're investing in EU's future. That's why we've proposed to switch our ambition to even higher gear in creating Horizon Europe, EU's next research and innovation programme, boosting its funding up to an unprecedented EUR 100 billion and completing the European Innovation Council."
The President of the ERC, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, said: "Frontier science above all generates new knowledge. One should never forget that scientific pursuit can also trigger new innovation and business ideas. ERC Proof of Concept grants help these ideas to develop. I'm glad to see that so many of our grantees from such diverse disciplines are eager to test if their research findings could be brought to market or benefit society in other ways."
Proof of Concept (PoC) grants, worth a maximum of €150,000 each, can be used for example to explore business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts. A recent review shows the funding has also helped ERC-funded scientists set up new companies and attract capital to make their research marketable.
The new grants were awarded to researchers working in 16 countries: Austria (2 grants), Belgium (4), Croatia (1), Denmark (1), Finland (2), France (6), Germany (2), Ireland (1), Israel (3), Italy (5), Netherlands (2), Portugal (3), Slovakia (1), Spain (7), Switzerland (3) and the UK (7).
The grant scheme is only open to ERC grantees. Over 800 grantees have received PoC funding since 2011. They can apply for funding in one of the three rounds of the call every year. Today's announcement concerns the second 2018 round, in which the ERC evaluated 130 applications. The budget for the whole 2018 competition is €20 million.
Future calls and deadlines
In you are an ERC grantee and are interested in applying straight away, then act soon – the deadline for the last round of 2018 grants is 11 September 2018. Potential applicants can find all information here. However, in October the 2019 PoC competition will open, with an extra €5 million available for 2019 PoC grants, again over three rounds of funding. In addition, for the 2019 PoC the ERC is piloting the use of lump sums as a simplified funding mode, to test this approach compared to the current method (based on the declaration of actual costs). Find more information on the 2019 conditions and deadlines here.
The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects in Europe. The ERC also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to work in Europe.
To date, the ERC has funded around 8,500 top researchers at various stages of their careers. It offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants.
The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council. The ERC President is Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. The ERC has a budget of over €13 billion for the years 2014 to 2020, part of Horizon 2020, for which European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas is responsible.