Addressing the future of Internet security, ERC Synergy Grants

Date: Mon, 12/23/2013 - 13:21

13 frontier research projects to get €150 million
Addressing the future of Internet security, ERC Synergy Grants

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn

Image credited to EC

The European Research Council (ERC) announced the winners of 13 ERC Synergy Grants, who will share total funding of €150 million. The projects will each receive an average funding of €11.5 million, up to a maximum of €15 million, for the coming six years. Each project brings together two to four outstanding researchers, often across a number of disciplines.
The selected researchers will explore a wide variety of topics. The projects include: creating the first ever picture of a black hole; addressing the future of Internet security; evaluating the environmental impact of the lack of phosphorous; and developing new instruments for non-invasive eye treatments.
European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn commented: "You have to take risks to get exceptional results. ERC Synergy Grants invest in remarkable research, bringing together top-notch scientists. These projects will push the frontiers of our knowledge. That’s exactly the type of science that we need if we are to make Europe more innovative and globally competitive."
The 13 projects unite 45 researchers of 14 different nationalities, based in 11 countries in the European Research Area. Two of them are returning to Europe (Germany) from the US with their new grant. All in all, 12 are based in Germany, seven in Spain, six in the UK, four in both France and Switzerland, and three each in Hungary and the Netherlands. Denmark, Norway, Austria and Belgium also host grantees. Researchers from an unusually wide range of career stages are awarded these grants, with ages ranging from 34 to 74 years old.
The ERC Synergy Grant targets individual investigators whose complementary skills, knowledge and resources enable them to target unique and ground-breaking results. This is the second competition for ERC Synergy Grants, which is a pilot scheme introduced in 2011 by the Scientific Council of the ERC. Just under 450 applications were submitted, with the 13 projects selected for funding through a two-step evaluation procedure.
There will be no call for Synergy Grants in 2014. The ERC Scientific Council will analyse the current pilot phase of the initiative before deciding on future calls.

The ERC Synergy Grant scheme is a pilot in addition to the ERC's core funding schemes (Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants and Advanced Grants). In this latest call, a Synergy Grant is on average worth €11.5 million, but can go up to €15 million. A limited part of the overall ERC budget (around 10%) is used for this initiative, while the core-business of ERC funding is dedicated to individual researchers.

The ERC Synergy Grant in detail:
• Bottom-up, investigator-driven approach. Funding pioneering frontier research in any field.
• Interdisciplinarity, be it within domains or cross-domain, is not a requirement but it is strongly encouraged?
• The funding per grant is a maximum of €15 million for a period up to 6 years (pro rata for projects of shorter duration).
• Calls for proposals: published annually with one deadline.
• Groups applying for the ERC Synergy Grant must be made up of a minimum of two and a maximum of four Principal Investigators (PIs) and their teams. One of the PIs acts as the 'Corresponding PI' on behalf of the group.
• Coming from different institutions neither provides an advantage nor is a disadvantage for PIs. What matters is that the PIs demonstrate that the synergy is indispensable for the success of the project.

Set up in 2007 by the EU, the European Research Council is the first pan-European funding organisation for excellence in frontier research. The ERC, which is a pioneering component of the EU's Seventh Research Framework Programme ('Ideas' Specific Programme), has a total budget of €7.5 billion from 2007 to 2013. The European Commission has proposed a significant boost of the ERC budget to over € 13 billion in the new EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 (2014-2020).

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