European Research Council 10th Anniversary: Achievements & Possibilities with Japan

Categories: News

Tags: ERC

The European Research Council (ERC) is the first European funding organisation supporting cutting-edge 'blue sky' research in all fields, and helping Europe attract the best researchers of any nationality. It was setup 10 years ago, in 2007, by the European Union. At this occasion we would like to turn back on some of the great achievements of the ERC.

The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council, and, since January 2014, the ERC President is Prof. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. The ERC has a budget of over €13 billion and is part of the EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.ERC grantees have won prestigious prizes, including 6 Nobel Prizes, 3 Fields Medals, 5 Wolf Prize and more. 2014-2020 budget: 13.1 billion euro. European Research Council (ERC) grants support individual researchers of any nationality and age who wish to run five-year-projects in frontier research, in a public or private research organisation based in the countries of the European Research Area (ERA), that includes EU Member States and Associated Countries.
The ERC encourages in particular proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries, pioneering ideas that address new and emerging fields and applications that introduce unconventional, innovative approaches.

10 years of the ERC: a European success story

The ERC, established by the EU to support excellent researchers in Europe, has backed scores of them, including six who later received Nobel Prizes. ERC grants also created career opportunities for some 50,000 research staff, resulted in numerous scientific breakthroughs and led to over 800 patent applications that lay the foundations for growth and jobs, and the improvement of people's daily lives.

For example, Deniz Kirik at Lund University in Sweden developed a promising gene therapy for Parkinson's disease. Valeria Nicolosi at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland created batteries that last even 5,000 times longer, using two-dimensional materials. And astronomer Michaël Gillon at the University of Liège, Belgium, discovered potentially inhabitable planets orbiting another star that recently made news worldwide. The ERC believed in their ideas and encouraged them to follow their scientific curiosity.

The President of the ERC, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, said:

"For the past ten years the European Research Council has supported high-quality research projects proposed by ambitious scientists. ERC grants led to many scientific breakthroughs. […] The ERC is fulfilling the mission it was given to make Europe the place to be for the world's best brains."

ERC: 10 years of achievements


ERC open to the world

The ERC strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world. To date, it has funded some 6 900 top researchers at various stages of their careers.

ERC grants are open to researchers of any nationality who may reside in any country in the world at the time of application. Currently, there are 537 (8%) principal investigators of non-ERA nationality, for a total grant value of EUR 900 million. These grant holders are mainly nationals of the US (218), Canada (63), Russia (44), India (38), Australia (37), Japan (25), and China (23).

On average, ERC grantees employ around six team members during their ERC project. An estimate shows that some 17% (about 7,000) of these team members are nationals from countries outside Europe.

The major part (almost half) of the non-ERA staff members come from three countries covered by EURAXESS Worldwide: China (18%), the US (16%), and India (13%). Japan (4%), Canada (3%), and Vietnam (1%), also bring a noticeable contribution. The ERC wishes to further pursue internationalisation and warmly encourages researchers from all countries to apply for funding and to search for jobs within ERC teams.


About the ERC Funding Schemes

Researchers, independently of their nationality and current place of work, can apply for 3 types of ERC grants:

Additionally, ERC grant holders can apply for top-up funding (Proof of Concept Grant (PoC) to explore the innovation potential of their research results.

ERC calls are annual. Find the calendar of upcoming calls here.


How to find a job within ERC teams

ERC projects are carried out by an individual researcher ('Principal Investigator') who can employ researchers of any nationality as team members. One or more team members can even be located in a non-European country.

ERC grantees are encouraged to publish vacancies in their teams on the EURAXESS Jobs portal. A quick search with the “European Research Council (ERC)” additional filter will list all vacancies available in ERC teams in Europe.


How to perform research visits to ERC teams (JSPS-ERC exchange scheme)

Since 2015, the Implementing arrangement (IA) between JSPS and the European Commission enables young JSPS research fellows (PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers) to carry out research visits and temporarily join ERC teams in Europe. Research visits can be of any duration up to the limit set by each researcher’s contract for days spent abroad while receiving JSPS support; and must start during the Japanese fiscal year 2017 (April 2017 - March 2018).

In practice, ERC launches an annual Call for expression of interest amongst ERC grantees to inquire about their interest to host Japanese scientists in their research teams. From the last call (October 2016), 345 PIs expressed interest in hosting Japan-based scientists. The list is then sent to JSPS which informs eligible researchers of the opportunity. There is no pre-selection by JSPS. Individual researchers must reach an agreement with their future host by themselves. Selected researchers will continue to receive their funding and salary from JSPS during the length of their visit. JSPS does not support travel costs. However, researchers can also through an agreement with their host, receive financial support from the PIs grant money.

If you are eligible (JSPS research fellows under the DC, PD, SPD, RPD categories), the JSPS will provide you with all the necessary information, and a list of the ERC PIs calling or Japan-based researchers. You have to contact them on your own and fix the terms of your visit. The administrative procedures relevant to your visit abroad must be completed at least one month prior to the start of your research stay.

Deadline: 19 May 2017

Read the details of the application procedure for JSPS researchers here (English) and here (Japanese).

Read also interviews of Japanese researchers who benefited from this research stay scheme in 2016 here.