The European Research Council ERC, 10 years funding excellence in research

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1 The European Research Council ERC, 10 years funding excellence in research Dr Nadia El Mjiyad LS Evaluation Panel Co-coordinator European Research Council Executive Agency 9 May 2017 University of Liege, Belgium Art & Build Architect / Montois Partners / credits: S. Brison

2 The ERC in a Nutshell

3 The ERC in a Nutshell Set up in 2007 by the EU, the ERC funds ambitious projects in frontier research. It aims at: Supporting excellent frontier research throughout Europe in all scientific domains: Life Sciences (LS), Physical Sciences and Engineering (PE), and Social Sciences and Humanities (SH) Retaining and attracting the best scientific talent to Europe, by offering very substantial grants for up to 5 years 3

4 Development of ERC

5 Development of ERC

6 ERC Governance The European Commission Provides financing through the EU framework programmes Guarantees autonomy of the ERC Assures the integrity and accountability of the ERC Adopts annual work programmes as established by the Scientific Council The ERC Scientific Council 22 prominent researchers proposed by an independent identification committee President appointed following recommendation of an independent search committee Appointed by the Commission (4 years, renewable once) Establishes overall scientific strategy; annual work programmes; peer review methodology; selection and accreditation of experts Controls quality of operations and management Ensures communication with the scientific community The ERC Executive Agency Executes annual work programme as established by the Scientific Council Implements calls for proposals and provides information and support to applicants Organises peer review evaluation Establishes and manages grant agreements Administers scientific and financial aspects and follow-up of grant agreements Carries out communications activities and ensures information dissemination to ERC stakeholders 6

7 7 BOURGUIGNON Jean-Pierre BOCK Klaus KONDOROSI Eva BOVOLENTA Paola BUCKINGHAM Margaret CLARK Christopher CRONE Eveline STOKHOF Martin DONALD Athene JAJSZCZYK Andrzej JUNGWIRTH Tomas KRAMER Michael MEHLHORN Kurt ROMANOWICZ Barbara STENSETH Nils SUPERTI-FURGA Giulio TAVERNARAKIS Nektarios THORNTON Janet VERNOS Isabelle VEUGELERS Reinhilde WIEVIORKA Michel ZWIRNER Fabio President Vice President Vice President Vice President The ERC Scientific Council

8 The ERC in a Nutshell Three core funding schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants and Advanced Grants For top researchers of any nationality and age who wish to carry out their frontier research in EU Member States or associated countries 1 project, 1 Principal Investigator, 1 Host Institution, 1 selection criterion: excellence of the PI and the project. No priorities, no quotas 8

9 ERC Budget Within Horizon 2020 The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation = 13 billion 9

10 Complementary Funding Schemes ERC Advanced Grant ERC Starting Grant ERC Consolidator Grant Senior Professors Erasmus Programme Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions - Research Fellowship Programme Post-docs Junior Professors / Junior Researchers / Associated Professors Full Professors Students Post Graduates 10

11 Funding for Researchers of any Age and Career Stage ERC Funding Schemes 2017 Starting Grants 2-7 years after PhD ( 50% commitment) Up to 2.0 Mio For 5 years Consolidator Grants 7-12 years after PhD ( 40% commitment) Up to 2.75 Mio For 5 years Proof-of-Concept Bridges gap between research and earliest stage of marketable innovation Up to 150,000 for ERC grant holders Advanced Grants Track-record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years ( 30% commitment) Up to 3.5 Mio For 5 years 11

12 Features of ERC grants No constraints on eligible costs as long as they are for the execution of the project High flexibility: aims of the project can be modified through amendments to the grant agreement The PI should spend 50% in the EU or Associated Country ELIGIBILITY The PI should dedicate 50% (StG), 40% (CoG) and 30% (AdG) of his/her time to the project. Grants have a light reporting along the project life-time: financial report every 18 months, scientific report at mid-term and end of the project Grants have 25-40% pre-financing 12

13 Objectives and Principles of ERC Funding Scientific excellence as sole selection criterion Applications in any field of research and scholarship, totally curiosity driven Funding for independent researchers of any age and career stage Funding for researchers of any nationality Host Institutions must provide appropriate conditions Open Access to published output and research data Equal Opportunities between men and women in the project's implementation Compliance with ethical principles and relevant legislation Culture of research integrity in the evaluation and granting process For more information, see the ERC Work Programme

14 Objectives and Principles of ERC Funding: Applications in any Field of Research and totally curiosity-driven Peer-review evaluations 25 panels covering the three domains of research In each panel, high profile researchers from all over the world 14

15 Evaluation Process, success rate ~11% Step 1 Panel members evaluate remotely the Extended Synopsis of the proposal and the CV (Part B1) Panel Members evaluate remotely the full scientific proposal (Part B1 and Part B2) Step 2 Additionally, each proposal is evaluated by at least 2 Remote Reviewers Panel Meeting Proposals rejected (score B and C) Proposals retained (score A) Panel Meeting with Interviews for StG and CoG applicants Proposals not recommended for funding (score B) Proposals recommended for funding (score A)

16 Excellence is the sole evaluation criterion Research Project Ground breaking nature Potential impact Scientific Approach Principal Investigator Intellectual capacity Creativity Commitment

17 What are the PM looking for? Established by the European Commission Fund Frontier research projects: Does the project go substantially beyond the state of the art? Is it timely? (Why wasn't it done in the past? Is it feasible now?) What's the risk? Is it justified by a substantial potential gain? Is there a plan for managing the risk? Why is the proposed project important? Fund the future leaders in the field: Why am I the best/only person to carry it out? Am I internationally competitive as a researcher at my career stage and in my discipline? Am I able to work independently, and to manage a 5-year project with a substantial budget?

18 ERC Starting and Consolidator Grants The applicant s profile Established by the European Commission Potential for research independence Able to develop ground-breaking idea, think out of the box Evidence of scientific maturity and creativity At least one (StG) /several (CoG) publications without participation of PhD supervisor Promising track-record of early achievements Significant publications including without the PhD supervisor, contribution to the field. Up to 5 publications for StG, up to 10 for CoG Invited presentations in conferences Funding, patents, awards, prizes 18

19 ERC Advanced Grants The applicant s profile Established by the European Commission Track-record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years Exceptional leaders and mentors 10 publications as senior author in major scientific journals 5 granted patents 10 invited presentations at international conferences 3 international conferences where Principal Investigator was an organiser International prizes/awards 19

20 10 Reasons to Celebrate

21 1. Supporting Research Talent 7,000 "research champions" and their teams supported 50,000 team members, mostly PhDs and postdocs, working on ERC projects 21

22 2. Advancing the Frontiers of Knowledge 73% of a sample of completed ERC projects resulted in scientific breakthroughs or major advances ERC grantees won prestigious awards: 6 Nobel Prizes, 4 Fields Medals, 5 Wolf Prizes 22

23 3. Enhancing Visibility of European Research Results 100,000 publications resulting from ERC projects 7% of these publications rank in the top 1% most cited worldwide. Also thanks to this, in 2014 Europe surpassed the US for the first time in this top 1%. 23

24 4. Attracting Scientific Talent The ERC tackles the brain-drain by making Europe a more attractive place for bright minds Around 17% of the ERC team members are from non-eu countries 9 countries (including US, China, Korea, Brazil) have signed specific agreements with the EU that allow ERC grantees to cooperate with young scientists from around the world 24

25 5. Promoting Innovation There is no innovation without frontier research! Almost 600 Proof of Concept Grants awarded ERC projects have led to 800 patent applications and setting up 75 new ventures ( ) 25

26 6. Addressing Societal Challenges The ERC funds projects related to major health challenges, energy efficiency, demographic changes, etc. ERC-funded research contributes to economic growth and benefits the society at large 26

27 7. Inspiring Reforms in Europe The ERC has set the benchmark of competitive funding of basic research New scientific councils and funding schemes launched in EU Member States 17 countries have introduced initiatives to finance their best unfunded applicants 27

28 8. Engaging with the Scientific Community Research integrity Open access Gender balance Widening European participation 28

29 9. Boosting Research Careers 2/3 of ERC grants go to early career researchers ERC grants have a strong, positive effect on grantees' careers They contribute to the consolidation of research teams Key role in training and developing a new generation of top scientists 29

30 10. Raising an International Visibility Wide media coverage articles in the media every year Events around the world > visitors of the ERC website per year

31 The Secrets of the ERC Success

32 The secrets of a success The Scientific Council: 22 renowned scientists as decision makers The evaluators: high-level scientists from all over the world Strict bottom-up approach: no thematic priorities, all disciplines eligible Scientific and financial independence of the grantees Thesizeofthegrants: 1.5 million for Starting Grants, 2 million for Consolidator Grants, 2.5 million for Advanced Grants The simplicity of the schemes and of the procedures A very efficient management by the executive agency (ERCEA) 32

33 Examples of projects

34 Earth-like Exoplanets Discovered Credit: ESO/N. Bartmann/spaceengine.org "Without the EU funding it would not have been possible to arrive at this discovery. I'm grateful that the European Research Council invested in our idea and believed in our intuition back in 2013." Method: A network of telescopes to detect exoplanets orbiting dwarf stars. Result: Pilot project discovered a system of 7 potentially inhabitable exoplanets Prof Michaël GILLON, Université de Liège (Belgium) SPECULOOS (searching for habitable planets amenable for biosignatures detection around the nearest ultra-cool stars), ERC Starting Grant

35 Mini Human Brains to Study Neurological Diseases Method: Researchers used human stem cells to grow pea-sized structures that resemble the developing human brain Use: These tissues provide a tool for modelling neurodevelopmental disorders such as microcephaly Jürgen KNOBLICH, Institute of Molecular Biotechnology GmbH (IMBA) (Austria) & Andrew JACKSON, University of Edinburgh (UK) were part of the team NeuroSyStem (A Systems Level Approach to Proliferation and Differentiation Control in Neural Stem Cell Lineages), ERC Advanced Grant 2009 HumGenSize (Cellular pathways determining growth and human brain size), ERC Starting grant

36 Hidden Medieval Cities Uncovered in Cambodia Method: A laser radar mounted on a helicopter to scan the jungle in the Angkor region Result: Discovery of unknown human activity dating back to prehistory Prof Damian EVANS, École française d Extrême-Orient (France) CALI (Cambodian Archaeological Lidar Initiative), ERC Starting Grant

37 Thank you! 37

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