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Every day thousands of people across Europe are working together to keep EU citizens safe from challenges to do with health, the environment, crime, terrorism, migration and the economy.
A project funded by the ERC developed an innovative and comprehensive framework to study energy poverty in Europe. It also produced evidence applicable beyond academia, laying ground for the EU’s Energy Poverty Observatory set up in 2018.
Cities and regions around the world are increasingly inter-connected. One clear factor for this connectivity is foreign investment: the flow of capital, skills and knowledge that can – under the right circumstances - "bless" an area, improving its economic and social standing. ERC grantee Riccardo Crescenzi studies where these flows are concentrated, how different actors choose where to invest and what are their impacts on both the home and host economies.
Peer pressure plays an important role in spreading new trends and habits. But what impact does social influence have in the diffusion of disruptive innovations that challenge prevailing transport technologies and mobility practices? Funded by the ERC, a team led by Dr Charlie Wilson is looking into this matter.
Prof. Gregoire Courtine believes paralysed patients will be able to walk again. This belief has represented the focus of years of work aimed at regenerating the functions of the spinal cord after injury. Thanks to his ERC funding in both 2010 and 2015, Prof. Courtine and his team have been able to develop so-called “personalised neuroprosthetics” that have led immobile rats, and more recently monkeys, to overcome their paralysis.
Comprehensive new databases of migration flows and policy data since World War II highlight how some policies have had unintended effects.
European researchers have designed brain-like artificial neural networks capable of numerical and spatial cognition and written language processing without any explicit training or pre-programming. Their work, based on the machine-learning approach of generative models, significantly advances the development of self-learning artificial intelligence, while also deepening understanding of human cognition.
A crucial discovery of how the brain functions has been made by EU-funded researchers. ERC Advanced Grant holder Prof. Oscar Marin and his team have shown that brain's 'hardware' - using the computing metaphor - is in fact tuneable and can adapt to internal and external influences. The findings could help develop new therapies for neurological disorders such as epilepsy, which affects around 50 million people globally.
To confront the current challenge of managing a city of 20 million, the Egyptian government has revealed plans earlier this year (2015) to build a new capital city, 45 kilometres east of Cairo. The ambitious project tackles growth over the next 50 years and has been set to adapt to future challenges, including population density and land constraints. Like Cairo, many other metropolises are currently under pressure. At the University College London, ERC grantee Prof. Michael Batty, a distinguished theorist and modeller of urban change, works to develop a new 'Science of Cities'.
Surveys such as the 2010 Eurobarometer show that people around Europe are worried about what they eat and where it comes from. But what causes this? And does it affect behaviour? An ERC project studied consumer choices about shopping, cooking and eating – offering a more accurate picture of what shapes their decisions. The results could lead to better-informed policies on health, sustainability and business.