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Making Europe attractive to top talent - 26/07/2010

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn and others holding large certificate celebrating 1000th research grant © EU

The European Research Council has now funded over 1000 innovative ideas. A further €661m is still available for early-career researchers.

A car travelling without a driver from Italy to Shanghai to test autonomous driving in extreme conditions; volcanic eruptions created in a laboratory to study the interaction of volcanic ash with the atmosphere; a microscopic "chemical robot" that delivers medicine to the correct places inside a human body. These are just a few of the 1000 innovative research projects that have been funded to date by the European Research Council - the first pan-European funding body for cutting-edge research.

The 1000th grant winner, immunologist Prof. Erika von Mutius, is exploring new ways of tackling asthma and allergies - an endeavour that could have a real impact on people's daily lives. This is a typical example of the useful applications that can come from the "curiosity-driven" research funded by the ERC.

Created just over 3 years ago and tasked with making Europe more attractive to top talent, the ERC awards grants to the best researchers of any nationality and age, and from any scientific discipline.

According to Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn the ERC "has come a very long way in a very short time and is delivering excellent results for science and for Europe. Investing in top talent in cutting-edge research is pivotal, now more than ever, if we are to boost innovation as well as the competitiveness of Europe vis-à-vis the rest of the world".

But there is more to come: a further €661m is now available in the form of "Starting grants". Top early-career researchers can apply to the ERC as of 20 July.

This ERC call for project proposals is part of the EU's biggest ever investment in research and innovation: nearly €6.4bn for smart growth and jobs.

The package, announced on 19 July, covers a vast range of scientific disciplines, public policy areas and commercial sectors. Grants will be awarded through calls for proposals and evaluations over the next 14 months and are expected to create more than 165 000 jobs.

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