ERC: €2 billion investment in top European researchers
“This is the starting whistle for the next round of this champions’ league of European research within the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. I hope this new series of competitions for excellence in science will identify and reward potential breakthroughs, and will be an investment for the future of Europe.” Stated Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.
The European Research Council (ERC) announces its 2018 grant competitions with a total budget of around €1.86 billon, most of which earmarked for early- to mid-career researchers. In addition, the ERC is reintroducing Synergy Grants, the funding scheme for groups of two to four scientists who jointly address ambitious research problems.
The Work Programme, established by the ERC Scientific Council, was pre-announced on 19 July, and adopted today by the European Commission.
The President of the ERC, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, said: “The reintroduction of Synergy Grants in the 2018 Work Programme has been much anticipated. These grants can trigger unconventional collaborations, allow for the emergence of new fields of study and help put scientists working in Europe at the global forefront. By providing €250 million of funding for the Synergy Grant call, the ERC Scientific Council intends to make possible substantial advances at the frontiers of knowledge which would be impossible for researchers working alone.”
The Work Programme includes all the well-known and established ERC funding schemes: Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grants, as well as Proof of Concept Grants for ERC grantees who wish to explore the innovation potential of their research results.
What is new is the Synergy Grants scheme. Building on the experience of the 2012 and 2013 pilot competitions, the ERC Scientific Council decided to reintroduce Synergy Grants for groups of two to four excellent principal investigators. The grants may be awarded for up to €10 million for 6 years. The ultimate goal of the scheme is to give support to close collaborative interactions that will enable transformative research, cross-fertilizing disciplines and capable of yielding ground-breaking scientific results.
Some 900 new grantees are expected to benefit from ERC funding next year across all schemes. They will employ an estimated 6,000 post-docs, PhD students and other members as part of their research teams. The Work Programme foresees that the ERC will continue to qualitatively analyse the scientific output of its funded projects with a particular focus on any potential breakthroughs and discoveries.