55 researchers each awarded €150,000 ERC grants

7 Jan 2021

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The Proof of Concept grants will enable researchers to explore the commercial or societal potential of their work.

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded 55 researchers with Proof of Concept grants worth €150,000 each.

Projects by these researchers include a new low-cost test for Covid-19, a way to help develop new medicines to treat blindness, and further improvements to a clean energy producing technology.

The latest funding announcement, totalling €8.25m, brings the total number of ERC Proof of Concept grants in 2020 to 166, with funding going to researchers working in 21 different countries.

Mariya Gabriel, European commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, said the grants demonstrate how frontier research results can be used to benefit society and industry.

“The research funded in this call is set to break fresh ground and to open new ways of dealing with pressing challenges in the areas of health, migration and climate change, amongst many other fields.”

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 55 winners is Prof Jonathan Coleman of Trinity College Dublin, who is working on printable strain sensors using nanomaterial-based inks for high performance sensing applications.

Other recipients include Kerem Pekkan from Koç Üniversitesi in Turkey, who is developing fully implantable patient-specific artificial hearts without external power; Prof Christelle Prinz from Lund University, who aims to develop a new rapid, one-step Covid-19 test; and Volker Busskamp from University Hospital Bonn in Germany, who is looking to improve treatments for visual impairment and blindness.

ERC president Prof Jean-Pierre Bourguignon congratulated the winners. “Frontier research is the basis that generates innovation in many forms, not only technological, which in turn can impact society positively,” he said.

To date, the ERC has funded more than 9,800 top researchers at various stages of their careers, and more than 50,000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff working in their research teams.

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

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic