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Science at the service of Europe


Bringing the best ideas forward

The Ideas Programme is implemented by the internationally prominent European Research Council (ERC), which was created in 2007. The fundamental principle of all ERC activities is to stimulate investigator-initiated frontier research across fields.

EU funding in 2011
€ 1.33 billion

See Projects

box containing a lot of ideas, beside blank boxes sembling empty

Excellence is the sole basis on which individual research teams are funded.

Two grant schemes form the core of ERC activities: Starting Grants (StG), supporting researchers in the early stages of their careers to help them become independent research leaders; and Advanced Grants (AdG), designed to support established research leaders and their teams with necessary resources to continue achieving breakthroughs. The ERC received and funded significantly more research proposals in response to the two 2011 calls than in 2010. In October the ERC awarded its 2000th grant, marking a symbolic milestone.

ERC-funded projects are extremely productive. Their presence in high impact journals is notable. For instance, in 2011 at least one ERC-funded project published its funding in either Nature or Science every week.

In March, the ERC launched a new funding initiative – the "Proof of Concept" – to stimulate innovation by making additional funding available to researchers already holding ERC grants. This bridges the gap between research and innovation. With this new initiative, the ERC committed to fully exploiting the excellent ideas it funds and supporting frontier research in its first steps towards the market.