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Regular version of the site

ERC Grants: Options and Opportunities

On September 18th 2012, a delegation from the European Research Council (ERC) visited the Higher School of Economics. ERC representatives spoke about how Russian researchers can access the grant programme of the Council.

The European Research Council is a pan-European organization which was founded in 2006 with the aim of developing research within the EU. Its seven-year-budget (2007-2013) was about 7.5 billion Euros, over a billion Euros annually. The ERC is administrated by an independent Scientific Council of 22 people who define the organization’s grant strategy and operational management, while the processing and evaluating of grant applications is carried out by the ERC Executive Agency.

While the funds for the programme are assigned by the European Union, researchers from any country can receive grants, providing that he or she works on the project at an institution located in Europe and spends at least half the term of the grant period there.

In order to further widen the geography of grant holders and to attract more talented researchers to Europe, the ERC has launched the ERC Goes Global project. Delegations from the Council have already visited research centers in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Japan and South Korea, and they are planning to give presentations in the USA, China, India and Australia. In September 2012 the delegation is visiting Russia, speaking at leading universities and research organizations in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Novosibirsk.

The presentation of the ERC and its grant project at the Higher School of Economics was given by

Pavel Exner, Donald  Dingwell and Leonid Gokhberg
Pavel Exner, Donald Dingwell and Leonid Gokhberg
, ERC Secretary General, Pavel Exner, Vice-President of the ERC Scientific Council, and Sergey Zilitinkevich, professor of meteorology from Finland and ERC grant holder.

Over the first five years of the ERC’s work (2007-2011), about 3000 researchers from 56 countries have received grants, and these recipients have worked in over 500 European research institutions. Grant holders from past years include 4 Nobel Prize laureates and 3 Field Medal laureates.

The ERC’s grant scheme can be divided into three main parts. Starting Grants are aimed at researchers who have recently (2 to 7 years ago) received their PhD. In this case, the size of the grant can be as much as 2 million Euros and is given for 5 years. Consolidator Grants are for experienced researchers (7 to 12 years since their PhD) and are up to 2.75 million Euros for a term of 5 years. The third key group of grants is Advanced Grants. Researchers who have been involved in outstanding scientific achievements over the last 10 years can apply for these grants. In this case, academic degrees or age are not important. These grants can be up to 3.5 million Euros for a period of 5 years.

The competition for ERC grants is high. In average, over the last years, grant support has been received by 10.6% of Starting Grants applicants and 14.3% of Advanced Grants applicants. And in 2011 the number of applications for these grants was 4080 and 2284 respectively. Most of the grant holders are from EU countries. Among non-European grant recipients the majority of researchers are from the USA, and Russians share second place with Australians and Canadians. Over recent years, 17 Russians have become ERC grant holders, and three of them specialize in social and human sciences, such as economics, history and cultural studies.

Oleg Seregin, HSE News Service

Photos by Nikita Benzoruk

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