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UK universities top league for attracting star young researchers
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EMBARGO 11 A.M. BST 19 July 2013

UK universities top the league for attracting star young researchers from all over the world to do ground-breaking research financed by the European Union. The EU's European Research Council has announced its latest round of Starting grants – support for these rising stars of science. 60 out of the 287 grants go to researchers based in UK universities (18 in London alone).

    UK universities top league for attracting star young researchers

    Dr Tiziana Rossetto and Dr Cathryn Tonne are but two examples. Tiziana is based at University College London and works on earthquake engineering. She will be funded by the ERC to assess the tsunami impact on coastal cities, as well as buildings' resistance to tzunami. Dr Rosetto teaches at UCL and is also the founder and director of the largest earthquake engineering group in the UK – the Earthquake and People Interaction Centre.

    Dr Tonne's interest is real-time monitoring of air pollution by GPS technology. She will be supported to investigate the effects of air pollution on daily activities like cooking or travelling on public transport in low-income countries for which there is little scientific evidence compared to similar analysis for high-income countries. Cathryn is based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and has chosen for her research the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

    Both researchers are available for a limited number of media interviews. Photos and illustrations of their work are available upon request.

    Each starting grant is worth up to GBP 1.7 million (Euro 2 million) and there is fierce competition for them. Demand this year rose by 50% compared to 2012.

    Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn commented: "The European Research Council has changed the research landscape for young talent, and raised the level of science across Europe. It is funding blue-sky research that is advancing human knowledge, but also producing breakthroughs that could make their way into our daily lives in future. The ERC is now an established label of excellence, and it will go from strength to strength under Horizon 2020."

    ERC President Professor Helga Nowotny said: "With this ERC Starting Grant call, we are adding a new group of very bright young researchers to the over 2,300 ERC-funded starting and consolidator grantees. This means that almost two-thirds of the overall 3,860 top scientists funded by the ERC since 2007 belong to the age group that will shape the scientific future of Europe. Their ground-breaking ideas and the growing stream of research results we see so far will make a difference – for science, for innovation and for society at large. For the first time ever, the proportion of women amongst the grantees went up to 30%. This is a very encouraging and augurs well for the future."


    Set up in 2007 by the EU, the European Research Council is the first pan-European funding organisation for frontier research. It aims to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by encouraging competition for funding between the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age. The ERC also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. It funds young, early-career top researchers ('ERC Starting Grants'), already independent excellent scientists ('ERC Consolidator Grants'), and senior research leaders ('ERC Advanced Grants'). The substantial funding is awarded based on peer review evaluation.

    The European Research Council has a total budget of GBP 6.5 billion (Euro 7.5 billion) from 2007 to 2013. The European Commission has proposed a significant boost of the ERC budget to over GBP 11 billion (Euro 13 billion) in the new framework programme "Horizon 2020" (2014-2020). Research institutions hosting ERC grantees must be situated within the European Research Area (ERA), which comprises the 28 EU Member States and 13 countries associated to the FP7. These associated countries contribute to the ERC budget every year.

    Last update: 19/07/2013  |Top