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Headlines Published on 19 August 2005

Title Getting the right breaks – nominees for EURYI published

Scientists sometimes need a lucky break to secure funding for their research. But luck had nothing to do with the selection of 25 ambitious young investigators who stand to receive significant funding to set up and manage a team engaged in cutting-edge research. Now in its third year, the European Young Investigators Awards (EURYI) is giving these talented individuals the breaks they deserve.

Young investigators to receive significant funding to help them pursue creative research ideas and set up teams in Europe. © PhotoDisc
Young investigators to receive significant funding to help them pursue creative research ideas and set up teams in Europe.
© PhotoDisc

As in previous years, the European Young Investigators Awards is offering up to €1.25 million to a handful of the best young scientists from all over the world. The yearly prizes are given to help the nominees take their careers to the next level, setting up their own research teams to carry out scientific investigations in Europe.

Candidates had to meet various conditions to qualify for the awards. Although it was open to researchers anywhere in the world, they had to have between two and ten years of postdoc experience and be capable of carrying out high-quality, original research with the potential to solve scientific problems in a wide range of fields, including the social sciences, fundamental research, engineering, and the life sciences.

The awards will be formally handed out at a ceremony in November this year. A provisional list of winners has been published on the European Science Foundation’s (ESF) website, which is co-organising the scheme with the European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCs). For its part, the European Commission is giving management support to the scheme and financial support to the tune of €1.8 million.

“Scientists are often in the early stages of their career when they formulate new ideas which later lead to paradigm shifts or a Nobel Prize,” says Bertil Andersson, CEO of the ESF and member of the Nobel Prize Committee. “If we want to support creativity and progress in science,” he adds, “we should focus on the next generation of scientists and give them independence to pursue their own ideas… to nurture [their] talent.”

Tapping the talent
The selection committee chose 25 talented up-and-coming researchers from the hundreds of submissions generated through national competitions in the 16 participating countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

Nominees for this year’s EURYI come from 11 different countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK. For example, Robert Ter Haar Romeny of the Netherlands is keen to put his award to studying identity and migration; Christian minorities in the Middle East and in diaspora around the world. Zoltan Nusser of Hungary wants to put his prize to learning more about sensory information processing, understanding neuronal representation of odours. While Adrian Bachtold of Spain is fascinated by quantum probes based on carbon nanotubes.

Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, chairman of EUROHORCs (2003-2004) and president of Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) commented on the importance of having schemes like EURYI. "[Our organisations] share the conviction that outstanding young researchers need to be offered excellent research conditions which enable them to carry out their own independent research unit as early as possible... [By] joining our efforts, we could achieve added value with regard to this common goal," he concluded .

Promoting the careers of young researchers in this way also helps the EU keep its talented pool of scientists closer to home, stimulating innovation, growth and jobs – so vital to the Lisbon Strategy. Indeed, several prizes (i.e. Young Scientist Contest, Descartes Prize) and human resource initiatives, such as the Researcher Mobility Portal, have been developed under the Union’s ‘science and society’ programme to help achieve this and other important objectives.

Source:  EU, ESF

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More information:

  • New start for the Lisbon Strategy(Europa, February 2005)

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