10 Years European Research Council (ERC)

11 March 2017

​The European Research Council (ERC) is celebrating its tenth anniversary this spring. This unique EU funding mechanism was launched in 2007 under FP7, and has since funded more than 7,000 top researchers in all
fields of research and at all stages of their careers. Together with the first ERC president Fotis Kafatos, VIB was one of the important architects of this brand-new type of European funding.

It is then no surprise that VIB has always recognized the importance of ERC serving its own mission, as the principles guiding ERC grants show clear synergy with those of VIB: focusing on frontier/breakthrough research; ‘excellence’ as single evaluation criterion, evaluation through peer review panels; providing critical mass for researchers in the form of long-term and sufficiently large budgets; bottom-up support covering all fields ofscience; the project topic is at the discretion of the PI (no pre-defined topdown programs); supporting individual teams (PI) rather than international networks and simple and straightforward application documents and grant reporting.

VIB has encouraged group leaders at all levels to apply for ERC grants, and supports them during the application, grant negotiation and reporting phases. We are very proud to have had our first ERC-funded researchers from the start in 2007, even in the face of fierce competition during ERC’s first application year. A decade later, we have signed a total of 38 ERC grants, of which 28 are still running in 2017. In addition, 5 Proof of Concept (PoC) grants were awarded to valorize the results obtained under these ERC grants.

In total, these 43 VIB ERC grants have created research jobs for 162 people (PIs, postdocs, PhD students and technicians), and comprise about 8 Mio in 2016.

In this VIBnews, you will read the stories of several of our ERC grantees and discover how ERC grants have influenced their research careers. In the alumni interview, together with her partner in life and science, Jiri Friml, Eva Benkova will describe her ERC experience during the launch year of 2007. She was able to compete with the initial tsunami of 9,000 applications. But more than a funding principle, ERC proves to be a multiplier with increased visibility of the research in academia and beyond.

Related VIB times articles on ERC
An interview with ERC president Jean-Pierre Bourguignon

Good to know 3: compelling ERC facts

How VIB and EU-LIFE pitched

Twitter Wall #ERC10Yrs

3 accomplished VIB Scientists receive ERC Consolidator grants

2 Innovative projects awarded ERC Proof of Concept grants

Alumni in the picture: Eva Benková and Jiří Friml

Download here the VIBtimes of March 2017

Lieve Ongena, Senior Science Policy Manager