EC Launches Funding Council for Scientific Grants

Yesterday, the European Research Council (ERC), a pan-European funding agency that uses peer review to award grants for basic research, was launched at a conference in Berlin. The ERC is part of the European Commission’s (EC) Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7).The ERC will prioritize basic research and award grants based on a project’s scientific merit.

For the next seven years, the ERC has been awarded €7.5 billion (US$9.9 billion). When the ERC decides to award a research grant, it is allowed to give between €500,000 and 2 million (US$660,000-2.6 million) for a five-year research period. The ERC reportedly expects nearly 200 grants to be awarded each year.

Non-European researchers are eligible to apply if they will complete their research in a European country. Some scientists are excited about the ERC because they view the council as less political than the former funding application process.

The ERC will handle approximately 15% of EC science funding. Nearly 5% of the total budget of all the national science funding programs of EU member states is EC funding.

A second call for proposals for the ERC in the latter part of 2007 will offer Advanced Investigator Grants to established top research leaders.

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