25 israeli researchers receive ERC Starting Grants: TAU, Technion Weizmann, Bar-Ilan, Hebrew U, BGU, Volcani

The European Research Council (ERC) has selected 328 first-class scientists to receive its prestigious Starting Grants, worth up to €2 million each. This first Starting Grant competition under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, and the seventh to date, awards €485 million to early-career talent to develop their ambitious high-risk, high-gain research projects in any field.

Among them, 25 israeli researchers receive ERC Starting Grants from TAU, Technion Weizmann, Bar-Ilan, Hebrew U, BGU, Volcani.

The projects selected cover a wide array of topics, including wearable electronic textiles powered by body heat, detection of bacteria by smell, ‘toxic expertise’ in the petrochemical industry, the origins of human rationality, combatting cancer related inflammation, and optimising user interface design. Read about some of the selected projects here. Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas said: “To create tomorrow’s innovation and growth, cutting-edge research is a must. With its Starting Grants, the European Research Council nurtures the next generation of excellent scientists allowing them to follow their scientific curiosity and take risks. To be at the forefront, Europe needs this gutsy mindset, and to invest in young talent.”  ERC President Prof. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon commented: “The ERC is serious about young talent; with two thirds of the overall ERC budget invested in bright young minds, they are empowered early in their careers and given the scientific freedom to pursue their most creative ideas. This helps much talent stay in Europe and sparks breakthroughs that benefit all. For the future, it is key that they be given appropriate career prospects. This Starting Grants call – the first under Horizon 2020 – brings the number of emerging research leaders funded in Europe up to almost 3,000 since the ERC launch”. He added: “I am encouraged to see the share of female grantees increase; it is going in the right direction. Europe must nurture all its scientific talent, and for that purpose must pay special attention to improving the gender balance.”

This call attracted 3,273 applications and the overall success rate rose to around 10% (from last year’s 9%). This year, the share of successful female applicants increased to 33%, from 30% last year. The success rate (grantees/applicants) of the female applicants is this time virtually equal to the male applicants.

In this call, grants are awarded to researchers of 38 nationalities, hosted in 180 different institutions throughout Europe. In terms of host institutions, Germany (70 grants) and the UK (55 grants) are in the lead, followed by France (43) and the Netherlands (34). Researchers are also hosted in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey, along with one project in CERN in Switzerland.

Around 40 of the researchers are of non-European nationality; for instance North and South Americans, Asians, Australians, New Zealanders and Russians are amongst the grantees. Many of them were already based in Europe. Also, 18 researchers are coming to Europe to carry out their ERC-funded projects, including 13 returning Europeans, as well as scientists moving to Europe from Australia and North America. This is in line with the ERC mission to attract more excellent researchers to Europe.

Lists of selected researchers

The lists below show the proposals selected for funding. Around 50 more researchers will receive grants when an additional €64 million will become available. (to be announced in January 2015).

– Physical Sciences and Engineering

– Life Sciences

– Social Sciences and Humanities

Find this article in Israël Science Info n° 16

Israël Science Info