The ERC said many of these curiosity-driven projects advance EU policy aims in areas such as health, digital transformation and the climate emergency.
The European Research Council (ERC) has shared a detailed analysis of all the projects it funded under the Horizon 2020 programme.
Launched in 2014, Horizon 2020 was the EU’s €80bn research and innovation funding programme. It was the predecessor to Horizon Europe, which will run until 2027 with a budget of €95.5bn.
The ERC is now highlighting the diversity of the funded research, as well as the emerging areas of science and new methods developed by ERC grantees.
The ERC funded 6,707 research projects worth €13.3bn under the Horizon 2020 programme. It found that many of these projects advance the EU’s current policy aims in areas such as health, digital transformation and the climate emergency.
“Not only do we see that ERC grantees push the frontiers of knowledge, but the study also highlights that this knowledge can help us make the European Green Deal, EU4Health and other crucial initiatives a success,” said EU commissioner Mariya Gabriel.
Of the analysed ERC-funded projects, 34pc are likely to contribute to health policies, including cancer, brain and human mind research. Roughly 10pc of the projects addressed problems linked to the digital transition, with half of these focusing on artificial intelligence. Finally, 14pc were found to be relevant to climate policies and green solutions.
The ERC also showed how certain EU countries fared in specific research fields. Germany was shown to be particularly strong in life sciences, as well as physical sciences and engineering. Meanwhile, the UK and the Netherlands together hosted 40pc of all the projects in social sciences and humanities.
More than 20pc of all mathematics projects listed were hosted in France, while 31pc of the projects hosted in Poland were in computer science and informatics.
“This report refutes again the view that you have to tell researchers what to do because otherwise they’ll never get down to practical matters and urgent problems,” said ERC president Prof Maria Leptin.
“So, my message to all research policy makers is: trust researchers and give them the means to pursue their best ideas. That’s the best investment in our future.”
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