To honour the 8 ERC (European Research Council) winners at Tilburg University the Rector Magnificus invited them and their vice-deans of Research for a celebratory lunch. The winners had the opportunity to express their views and experiences on winning the grant and the effort that this takes. The Rector was very interested to hear in what the University can do (more) to support applicants during the process of acquiring an individual grant such as the ERC.
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. Researchers can apply for 3 grants: ERC Starter (€1.500.000), ERC Consolidator (€2.000.000) or ERC Advanced Grants (€2.500.000).
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 channeled 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 recognize the best ideas, and confer status and visibility on the best brains in Europe, while also attracting talent from abroad.