Website: European Research Council (ERC)

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Publication Date 2017
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The ERC's mission is to encourage the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and to support investigator-driven frontier research across all fields, on the basis of scientific excellence.

The ERC complements other funding activities in Europe such as those of the national research funding agencies, and is a flagship component of Horizon 2020, the European Union's Research Framework Programme for 2014 to 2020.

Being 'investigator-driven', or 'bottom-up', in nature, the ERC approach allows researchers to identify new opportunities and directions in any field of research, rather than being led by priorities set by politicians. This ensures that funds are channelled into new and promising areas of research with a greater degree of flexibility.

ERC grants are awarded through open competition to projects headed by starting and established researchers, irrespective of their origins, who are working or moving to work in Europe. The sole criterion for selection is scientific excellence. The aim here is to recognise the best ideas, and confer status and visibility on the best brains in Europe, while also attracting talent from abroad.

However, the ERC aims to do more than simply fund research.
In the long term, it looks to substantially strengthen and shape the European research system. This is done through high quality peer review, the establishment of international benchmarks of success, and the provision of up-to-date information on who is succeeding and why.

The hope is that these processes will help universities and other research institutions gauge their performance and encourage them to develop better strategies to establish themselves as more effective global players.

By challenging Europe's brightest minds, the ERC expects that its grants will help to bring about new and unpredictable scientific and technological discoveries - the kind that can form the basis of new industries, markets, and broader social innovations of the future.

Ultimately, the ERC aims to make the European research base more prepared to respond to the needs of a knowledge-based society and provide Europe with the capabilities in frontier research necessary to meet global challenges.

ERC in a nutshell

The ERC aims to:

+ Support the best of the best in Europe across all fields of science, scholarship and engineering
+ Promote wholly investigator-driven, or 'bottom-up' frontier research
+ Encourage the work of the established and next generation of independent top research leaders in Europe
+ Reward innovative proposals by placing emphasis on the quality of the idea rather than the research area
+ Raise the status and visibility of European frontier research and the very best researchers of today and tomorrow.

Facts and Figures
The European Research Council (ERC) – the first pan-European funding body for frontier research - was set up in 2007 under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7, 2007-2013).

It aims to enhance the dynamic character, creativity and excellence of European research at the frontiers of knowledge. Through peer reviewed competitions the best researchers are funded to perform their research in Europe.

The ERC is now part of the first pillar - 'Excellent Science' - of Horizon 2020, the new EU Programme for Research and Innovation. The total budget allocated to the ERC for the period 2014-2020 is €13.1 billion. Which means, in real terms (i.e. without considering inflation), an increase of 60% compared to FP7.

The ERC is composed of an independent Scientific Council, its governing body consisting of distinguished researchers, and an Executive Agency, in charge of the implementation.

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Related Links
Wikipedia: European Research Council
ERC: ERC Executive Agency (ERCEA)

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