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The European Research Council

The European Research Council

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The European Research Council

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  1. The European Research Council Alessandra Ferrari Research Programme Officer European Research Council Executive AgencyUNIT B.1 - Process Management and Review IFA Conference Prague, 31 May 2012

  2. Main points • Some Background on the ERC • Types of grants & evaluation process • What is so special about the ERC? • Some ERC funded projects in aging-related areas

  3. What is the ERC? • ERC is the first pan European funding body to support excellence in frontier research and with a bottom-up approach • Scientific Council with 22 members • Support by the ERC Executive Agency • Significant budget (1.6 billion €/year) • Excellence as the only valid criterion • Support for the individual scientist – no networks! • International peer-review • No predetermined subjects (bottom-up) • Support of frontier research in all fields of science and humanities Legislation Strategy │ 3

  4. Capacities People (8 %) JRC non- (9 %) nuclear (3 %) Ideas Co-operation (65 %) (15 %) FP7 budget € 50.5 billionERC budget € 7.5 billion; Increase by € 250 M/year

  5. ERC: a radical new approach to funding research at EU level • Pan-European competition between individual teams. • Open to any researcher in the world based on the sole criterion of excellence. • Support investigator-driven or ‘bottom-up’ research projects in all fields of science, engineering and scholarship. • Encourage creativity, risk-taking and ambition. • Raise the status, attractiveness and visibility of frontier research in Europe and its top scientists of today and tomorrow.

  6. ERC offers independence, recognition & visibility to work on a research topic of own choice, with a team of own choice to gain true financial autonomy for 5 years to negotiate with the host institution the best conditions of work to move with the grant to any place in Europe if necessary (portability of grants) recognition: ERC has become the ‘gold standard’ Creative freedom for the individual grantee │ 6

  7. Achievements of the ERC - so far more than 2.600 funded proposals in total in more than 480 different host institutions in 26 countries, total 4 billion but “excellence attracts excellence”: 50% of PIs in 50 institutions highly competitive: average success rate 12 % strong structuring effects: competition between European universities for first time ever, EU value added strengthening merit-based evaluation systems in Europe │ 7

  8. ERC Grant schemes Starting and Consolidator Grants Starters (2-7 years after PhD) up to € 2.0 Mio for 5 years Consolidators (7-12 years after PhD) up to € 2.75 Mio for 5 years Advanced Grants track-record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years up to € 3.5 Mio for 5 years Proof-of-Concept bridging gap between research - earliest stage of marketable innovation up to €150,000 for ERC grant holders Synergy Grants 2 – 4 Principal Investigators up to € 15.0 Mio for 6 years

  9. Senior Professor Full Professor Marie Curie Junior Professor/ Junior Researcher Associated Professor Erasmus Post-docs Post Graduates Students Researchers Career development and funding schemes ERC Advanced ERC SyG– Synergy ERC StG – Consolidators ERC StG - Starters

  10. ERC Grant schemes:Who can apply? Excellent Researchers (PIs) Any nationality, any age or any current place of work In conjunction with a Host Institution Based in EU or associated countries EU Member States Associated States │ 10 │ 10

  11. ERC Grant Schemes (StG, CoG, AdG) Panel structure : 3 domains and 25 panels Each panel : Panel Chair and 10-15 Panel Members Social Sciences and Humanities • SH1 Individuals, institutions & markets • SH2 Institutions, values, beliefs and behaviour • SH3 Environment & society • SH4 The Human Mind and its complexity • SH5 Cultures & cultural production • SH6 The study of the human past Physical Sciences & Engineering • PE1 Mathematical foundations • PE2 Fundamental constituents of matter • PE3 Condensed matter physics • PE4 Physical & Analytical Chemical sciences • PE5 Materials & Synthesis • PE6 Computer science & informatics • PE7 Systems & communication engineering • PE8 Products & process engineering • PE9 Universe sciences • PE10 Earth system science Life Sciences • LS1 Molecular & Structural Biology & Biochemistry • LS2 Genetics, Genomics, Bioinformatics & Systems Biology • LS3 Cellular and Developmental Biology • LS4 Physiology, Pathophysiology & Endocrinology • LS5 Neurosciences & neural disorders • LS6 Immunity & infection • LS7 Diagnostic tools, therapies & public health • LS8 Evolutionary, population & environmental biology • LS9 Applied life sciences & biotechnology │ 11 │ 11

  12. Excellence as sole criterion, to apply to: Research Project (RP) Ground breaking nature Potential impact Scientific Approach Added value of the Group (only SyG) Principle Investigator (PI) Intelectual capacity Creativity Commitemnet Evaluation Criteria │ 12

  13. ERC Starting Grant: 2011 Call Grantees by country of host Institution, 21 countries Source: 486 proposals │13

  14. ERC Starting Grant: 2011 Call Grantees by nationality – 38 nationalities Source: 486 proposals │14

  15. What is special about the ERC? • It is a young organisation: • Simple approach • Simple rules • Simple evaluation • We have a independent Scientific Council with considerable autonomy • The time was right for the EU • Completely bottom up with no priorities • Few and “large” panels • Strong reliance on personal interviews (StG) • Simple evaluation criteria

  16. Some examples of ERC funded research projects

  17. Temporal Enhancement of Motor Performance Using Sensory Guides Cathy Craig - StG07- SH3 Queen’s University Belfast, UK € 0.86 million • Improving health and sports performance through the brain’s control • Cathy Craig studies how sensory guides can improve balance and walking in people with Parkinson’s disease • As people age, balance ability declines. New technologies can be exploited to develop games that are more suited to older adults and people with Parkinson’s so that they can use it to train their balance • The latest results have shown significant progress in functional balance in older adults (>65 years) after playing these games for four weeks. These findings have major implications on/for falls prevention programmes and general healthier active older lives • (see BBC report:

  18. The demography of skills and beliefs in Europe with a focus on cohort change Vagard Skirbekk - StG 2009 – SH3 International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria € 1 million Social change and an ageing population • Education-specific forecasts to assess which kinds of jobs allow older workers to have a better chance in the labour market • This analysis is vital to capitalise on the experience and skills which older workers can offer • The aim is to generate significant new insights into the potential social and economic challenges associated with ageing, and wider demographic shifts • Results will support governments to improve their social policies for the future on the basis of their wider knowledge of what that future might look like

  19. The economic evaluation of end of life care Joanna Coast - StG 2010 – LS7 University of Birmingham, UK € 1 million 2004/2004EndOfLifeCareSOS024html.htm • Health economics concentrates on the appropriate allocation of resources: these assessments are known as Quality-Adjusted Life-Years • Cost effectiveness should not be the only determinant of health care • New evaluative approach for end of life care to take into account autonomy, dignity, spirituality, lack of suffering and preparation for death • Creation of a new set of indices to measure quality of life • The aim is to develop appropriate measures which can accurately estimate the holistic benefits of end of life care, and in doing so contribute to a dignified end of life for both patients and their families. •

  20. Evolution of Alzheimers Disease: From dynamics of single synapses to memory loss Inna Slutsky - StG 2011 – LS5 Tel Aviv University, Israel € 2 million • The disintegration of neuronal circuits is observed in Alzheimer's Disease (AD). • The amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta) plays a central role in synaptic dysfunctions of AD, however still unknown. • The project aims at unravelling mechanisms that regulate Abeta and uses an integrative approach to : • - correlate structure and function at the level of single synapses • - study the relationship between neuronal activity, temporo-spatial dynamics and molecular composition of Abeta, structural rearrangements within the Abeta signalling complexes and plasticity of single synapses and whole networks • elucidate fundamental principles of neuronal circuits function and identify critical steps that initiate primary synaptic dysfunctions at the very early stages of AD •

  21. These were only a few examples of ERC funded research! Please check for more on our website: and

  22. Thank You for your attention!