€290m fund for young European researchers

12 Mar 2007

The European Research Council (ERC) has launched a €290m research fund aimed at attracting young researchers. There are 200 grants available of between €100,000 and €400,000 per year across all areas of science.

The ERC is a new independent pan-European body that provides funding in all fields of science and technology. It was set up last month under the EU’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7). This €290m research fund is the first to be launched since the ERC’s establishment.

Professor Mathias Dewatripont, member of the ERC Scientific Council, said: “The ERC is an independent, quality-driven funding body run by the scientists themselves. We believe it can find the breakthrough thinking – and eventually new products and services – to keep the EU’s economy globally competitive.”

This research fund will compliment the sum of €8.2bn that has already been set aside up to 2013 for Irish scientific research by the National Development Plan.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), which is responsible for €1.4bn of this investment, welcomed the ERC’s investment in young European research scientists and the fundamental philosophy behind it.

Dr Graham Love, SFI national contact point for ERC, said: “The ERC has really simple guiding principles: the types of projects it funds must be at the frontiers of knowledge and they must demonstrate excellence.”

The grants will be allocated to investigator-driven or “bottom-up” research rather than relying on policy-driven or thematic priorities.

Selection is on a basis of peer review and the project is funded based on the potential of the researcher and the quality of the proposed research project.

Researchers from all areas of science can apply but it must be no more than nine years since completion of their PhD. The application can be filled out online and it involves a two-stage process. The deadline for proposals is 25 April 2007.

By Marie Boran