Catalan projects receive 42% of European Research Council grants to Spain
42% of the grants the European Research Council (ERC) gave on Wednesday to researchers in Spain will benefit Catalan academics. Specifically, ten of the 24 scholarship holders are working in Catalonia: three belong to the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), two to the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and one to the University of Barcelona (UB). The four remaining academics are involved in projects from other institutions such as the Centre for Genomic Regulation and the Institute of Photonic Sciences. This year, the ERC allocated a total of €605 million through its funding programme and evaluated 2,274 research proposals, of which 13.8% have been selected. The majority of the research initiatives are devoted to engineering and physics and the winners of the grants are from 39 different nationalities.
Brussels (CNA).- A total of ten researchers based in Catalonia received on Wednesday a grant from the European Research Council (ERC), one of the most prestigious funding programmes in Europe. The scholarship holders in Catalonia represent 42% of Spain’s total, where 24 researchers have been awarded. The majority of the projects are devoted to engineering and physics. More than 2,000 proposals from 39 different countries entered the competition and only 314 have been chosen. According to the president of ERC, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, in 2016 “demand has grown again”, proving that there is a “need to invest more in research” in Europe. The European Commission (EC) allocated a total of €605 million for the selected projects.
Of the 10 researchers who have won the scholarship in Catalonia, three belong to the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), two to the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and one to the University of Barcelona (UB). The four remaining academics are involved in projects from other institutions such as the Centre for Genomic Regulation or the Institute of Photonic Sciences. One of the initiatives awarded in Catalonia is that proposed by Eva Ostergaard-Nielsen, entitled 'How to propagate democracy through migration’ and will be developed at the UAB with a €1.45 million budget.
At a national level, the number of grants awarded was 24. Of all the Spanish projects, 16 are focused on the field of engineering and physics, five are devoted to health sciences and three to social sciences and humanities. Most of the winners are researchers from Spain. However, in seven cases the researchers awarded are originally from another country, but developing their project in Spain. By gender, 70% of the researchers are men and the remaining 30% women.
ERC recognise “first-class scientists”
These grants are part of the scientific excellence pillar of Horizon 2020, the European programme for research and innovation. According to Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, the ERC was created to “find the best quality in science” and to “turn Europe into an international centre of scientific excellence”. The winners of these competitive grants are considered “first-class scientists” with “really innovative” ideas.
The president of ERC, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, said that these grants aim at “supporting talented researchers early in their careers”. In 2016, “demand has grown again”, he said, proving that there is a “need to invest more in research” in Europe.
The projects granted cover a wide range of subjects, from physics and engineering to health sciences, social sciences and humanities. The beneficiaries will carry out their projects at universities, research centres and other institutions within the EU or associated countries. This time around, the grant holders are from 39 different countries, among which are Germany (50 grants), Italy, France and the United Kingdom (38, 34 and 24, respectively). The projects will take place in 23 countries across Europe, mainly in the United Kingdom (58), Germany (48), France (43) and the Netherlands (29).
The ERC evaluated 2,274 research proposals, of which only 13.8% have been selected. It is estimated that these grants will create about 2,000 jobs for post doctorates, PhD and administrative staff who work in the teams of the selected researchers.