90 researchers awarded €150,000 each in EU grant

25 Jan 2023

Image: © Robert Kneschke/Stock.adobe.com

Among the latest cohort of grant awardees are three Irish researchers.

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded 90 researchers with Proof of Concept grants worth €150,000 each.

Projects by these researchers include a web browser extension to help raise people’s trust in quality news media, an improved way to predict solar flares and other dangerous solar activity, and a cheaper and more effective method to produce cancer-killing cells for immunotherapy.

The latest funding announcement, totalling €13.5m, brings the number of ERC Proof of Concept grants issued in 2022 to 366.

“The ERC Proof of Concept grants aim to enable innovations, stemming from EU investments in frontier research, reach society and the market faster,” said Mariya Gabriel, European commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth.

“We are supporting big ideas turn into true innovation and building a system whereby innovation develops into valuable products and services for citizens.”

The aim of the Proof of Concept grants is to bridge the gap between the awardees’ pioneering research and early phases of commercialisation. Researchers can use the grants to explore the commercial or societal potential of their work and to bring their work closer to the market.

Among the 90 researchers are three Irish recipients: Sarah McCormack and David Finlay from Trinity College Dublin, and Gary Donohoe from the University of Galway.

McCormack’s project, Evolute, focuses on the evolution of advanced luminescent technology software while Finlay’s 4Dplus_Metaflux project aims at resolving immune cells based on in vivo metabolic phenotypes.

Donohoe’s project, Sociable, pertains to social cognitive interventions following adverse early-life experiences.

A fourth project, while not led by an Irish researcher, is taking place off the west coast of Ireland.

Called ‘Real Time Sea’, the French-led project is using wireless wave sensor technology deployed on a connected buoy to measure and instantaneously transmit raw data of the sea state (air and water) at a given location, at a very low communication cost.

“These Proof of Concept grants are set to help ERC grantees take results from their curiosity-led research towards market,” said ERC president Prof Maria Leptin.

“We need to keep investing in such research: it truly feeds commercial or social innovation. Europe needs more of it!”

The full list of grant recipients under the latest ERC Proof of Concept call can be found here.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic