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Press release | 07-04-2017

The European Research Council has announced today the awarding of its Advanced Grants to 231 top researchers in Europe. The funding, worth a total of €540 million, will give them a chance to realise their most creative ideas that can have a major impact on science, society and the economy. The grants fall under the 'Excellent Science' pillar of the EU's R&I programme Horizon 2020.

On this occasion, Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said:

"The ERC grants, funded by the EU programme Horizon 2020, give freedom to scientists to follow their best ideas and make a real difference in science and beyond. ERC grantees' work and accomplishments are the best way for the EU to reconnect and engage with its citizens. With those new results, I'm very proud to see that now all the 28 EU countries host ERC grants.".

The President of the ERC, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, commented:

"It is great news for Europe that another 231 ambitious projects presented by advanced researchers will be supported. Actually, the thorough peer review assessment for this call shows one more time that many more scientists came up with ideas of a truly ground-breaking nature worthy of support. Unfortunately, with the 2016 ERC budget it was only possible to fund 9.6% of applicants. In the coming years, let us hope that the planned growth of the ERC budget will match the wealth of talent and ideas that Europe hosts and attracts.".

The research of these new grantees covers all fields of scholarship, from developing energy-efficient cooling technology or understanding limb-regeneration to new insights into how social and business networks help companies be resilient in the face of crises. (See more examples)

The grantees will carry out their projects at universities and research centres in 20 countries across the European Research Area, with Germany (45 grants), United Kingdom (41), Switzerland (25) and France (23) as leading locations. In this competition, researchers of 24 different nationalities received funding, with Germans (46), Britons (37), Dutch (21) and French (18) being the most numerous.

Demand for ERC grants remains very substantial: some 2,400 research proposals were submitted this time, out of which 9.6% have been selected for funding. Female researchers submitted approximately 16% of proposals and 16% of grants have been awarded to women.

These grants will not only allow top researchers to realise their best ideas at the scientific frontiers, but will also lead to job creation as an estimated 2,000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff can be employed in the grantees' research teams.  (See more statistics)

Background

The ERC Advanced Grants in brief

  • For well-established top researchers of any nationality or age, who are scientifically independent and with a recent high-level research track-record and profile which identifies them as leaders in their respective field(s).
  • Based on a simple approach: 1 researcher with his/her team, 1 host institution, 1 project, 1 selection criterion: scientific excellence.
  • The host institution should be based in the European Research Area. This can be the institution where the researcher is already working or a new one. The host institution can be changed in the course of the project if the researcher so wishes (“portability of the grant”).
  • No consortia or co-funding are requested.
  • Funding: up to €2.5 million per grant (can exceptionally go up to €3.5 million, in case of purchase of major equipment, mobility from another continent, etc.).

About the ERC

The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the first 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 based in Europe. The ERC has three core grant schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants and Advanced Grants. Another funding scheme Synergy Grants should be re-launched in 2018.

To date, the ERC has funded some 7,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers, and over 50,000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff working in their research teams. The ERC strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. Key global research funding bodies, in the United States, China, Japan, Brazil and other countries, concluded special agreements to provide their researchers with opportunities to temporarily join ERC grantees' teams.

The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council. The ERC President is Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. The ERC has an annual budget of €1.8 billion for the year 2017, which is around 1% of overall spending on research in Europe. The overall ERC budget from 2014 to 2020 is more than €13 billion, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, for which European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas is responsible.

This year, the ERC celebrates its tenth anniversary: see summary of achievements.