25 August 2021
The European Research Council (ERC) shall provide attractive and flexible funding to enable talented and creative individual researchers and their teams to pursue the most promising avenues at the frontier of science, on the basis of Union-wide competition
The European Research Council (ERC) has selected 328 first class scientists to receive its prestigious Starting Grants, worth up to €2 million each. The awarded €485 million contributes to supporting a new generation of top scientists in Europe developing so-called “blue sky research”: ambitious high-risk, high-gain research projects in any field.
The projects selected cover a wide array of topics, including wearable electronic textiles powered by body heat, detection of bacteria by smell, ‘toxic expertise’ in the petrochemical industry, the origins of human rationality, combatting cancer related inflammation, as well as optimising user interface design. Read about some of the selected projects here.
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science said: “To create tomorrow’s innovation and growth, cutting-edge research is a must. With its Starting Grants, the European Research Council nurtures the next generation of excellent scientists allowing them to follow their scientific curiosity and take risks. To be at the forefront, Europe needs this gutsy mindset, and to invest in young talent.”
This year, grants are awarded to researchers of 38 nationalities, hosted in 180 different institutions throughout Europe. In terms of host institutions, Germany (70 grants) and the UK (55 grants) are in the lead, followed by France (43) and The Netherlands (34). Researchers are also hosted in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey, along with one project in CERN in Switzerland.
Around 40 of the researchers are of non-European nationality; for instance North and South Americans, Asians, Australians, New Zealanders and Russians. Many of them were already based in Europe.
There are also 18 researchers coming to Europe to carry out their ERC-funded projects, including 13 returning Europeans, as well as scientists moving to Europe from Australia and North America. This is in line with the ERC mission to attract more excellent researchers to Europe.
The average age of selected researchers is about 35 years.
This is the first Starting Grant competition under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the seventh to date. This call attracted 3273 applications, 10% of which were successful. Among the grantees, 143 are in the domain ‘Physical Sciences and Engineering’, 124 in ‘Life Sciences’ and 61 in ‘Social Sciences and Humanities’. This year, the share of female grantees rose to 33%, from last year’s 30%.
The funding will allow the Starting grantees to build their own research teams, engaging in total over 1400 postdocs and PhD students as their team members. The ERC thereby contributes to supporting a new generation of top researchers in Europe.
ERC Starting Grants are awarded researchers of any nationality with 2-7 years of experience since completion of PhD (or equivalent degree) and a scientific track record showing great promise. Research must be conducted in a public or private research organisation located in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries. The funding (maximum of €2 million per grant), is provided over up to five years.
Set up in 2007 by the EU, the European Research Council (ERC) 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 five-year projects based in Europe. The ERC also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. To date, the ERC has funded more than 4500 top researchers at a variety of stages in their careers.