Irish university researchers win up to €10m in EU R&D grants

20 Oct 2010

Five Irish-based researchers, one in University College Cork, two in NUI Galway and two in Trinity College Dublin have just been awarded grants worth up to €2m each under the prestigious ‘Starting Grants’ competition run by the European Research Council (ERC).

The grants will enable them to carry out their pioneering research. The grants are awarded to early-career scientists and the winners are drawn from a pool of bright and talented young researchers with ground-breaking, creative ideas.

The Irish scientists are just five of 427 researchers across the EU selected for funding.

The Irish projects cover a wide range of frontier research – in the medical (eg, tissue regeneration, cartilage repair) and electronic fields – and sustainable bioenergy and looking at the role of climate and migration in shaping populations.

Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, said: “With these awards, the ERC is investing in both new projects and new talent. Excellence in the kind of cutting-edge science funded by the ERC is a prerequisite for creating an Innovation Union in Europe and ultimately for achieving the EU’s ‘Europe 2020’ objective of sustainable growth.”

Irish Winners

COLEMAN Jonathan Nesbitt -Trinity College
Semiconducting and Metallic nanosheets: Two-Dimensional Electronic and Mechanical Materials

COLLINS Gavin – National University of Ireland, Galway
Cold Carbon Catabolism of Microbial Communities Underpinning a Sustainable Bioenergy and Biorefinery Economy

KELLY Daniel John- Trinity College
StemRepair Novel Mesenchymal Stem-Cell Based Therapies for Articular Cartilage Repair

MCNAMARA Laoise Maria – NUI Galway
Frontier Research in Bone Mechanobiology During Normal Physiology, Disease and for Tissue

PINHASI Ron – University College Cork,
From the Earliest Modern Humans to the Onset of Farming (45,000-4,500 BP): The Role of Climate, Lifestyle, Health, Migration and Selection in Shaping European Population History

European Research Council

The European Research Council (ERC) is awarding some €580m to 427 early-career top researchers in its competition for ‘Starting Grants’.

Worth up to €2m each, the grants will enable them to carry out their pioneering ideas in any field of research, throughout Europe. This is the third Starting Grant call since the ERC was launched in 2007 as a flagship component of the EU’s 7th Research Framework Programme.

The estimated total budget for this call, just more than €580m, is an increase of more than 40pc from last year’s Starting Grant call.

The average age of the selected researchers is about 36 and 26.5pc are women, which is an increase from last year’s 23pc.

The ERC is open to the whole spectrum of research domains and the distribution of proposals per domain is 45.7pc in physical sciences and engineering, 35.8pc in life sciences and 18.5pc in social sciences and humanities.

The number of applicants in this call totals 2,873, which is a 14pc increase from last year. The proposals hold a high overall quality and the total number submitted now seems to have stabilised. The success rate has gone up to 15pc.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years