29/07/2020

Second round winners in 2020 - Proof of Concept call


Fifty-five grantees of the European Research Council (ERC) have been awarded Proof of Concept funding to explore the commercial or societal potential of their research results. The grants are part of the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. 

The awarded projects cover a variety of topics e.g., making gecko-inspired gripping technology to help automate the assembly of products with tiny parts, tapping into the international digital music market by producing song word metadata for playlist generators, and enhancing the safety of live vaccines for mosquito-transmitted viruses.

On this occasion, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “Research can be revolutionary in generating new knowledge, but facilitating the transfer of this knowledge to the economy and society can be difficult. The EU is here to help bridge the gap. 

Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, who has just been re-appointed ERC President, commented: “I am pleased that one of my very first acts back at the helm of ERC is to announce a new round of funding call results, showing that the pandemic has not altered the efficient functioning of the ERC. Proof of Concept grants help ERC-funded researchers move their ground-breaking results towards commercial or social innovation. Curiosity-led research is a key ingredient to feed innovation, something which Europe needs more of.”

Proof of Concept (PoC) grants, worth €150,000 each, is top-up funding that can be used for example to explore business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts.

The new grants were awarded to researchers working in 11 countries: Austria (1 grant), Belgium (6), Germany (8), France (8), Israel (2), Italy (5), Netherlands (7), Spain (6), Sweden (2), Switzerland (2) and the UK (8).

Over 1000 researchers have received PoC funding since 2011. The grant scheme is only open to researchers who are or have been previously funded by the ERC. They can apply for funding in one of the three rounds of the call every year, and the final deadline in 2020 is 17 September (further information here). Today's announcement concerns the results of the second round in 2020, in which the ERC evaluated 172 applications. The budget for the whole 2020 competition is €25 million.

Background 

The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects in Europe. The ERC also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to work in Europe. To date, the ERC has funded close to 10,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers. It offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants. The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council, and its current President is Jean-Pierre Bourguignon (until the next President has been selected and taken office). The ERC has a budget of over €13 billion for the years 2014 to 2020, part of Horizon 2020, for which European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Mariya Gabriel is responsible.