First ERC Advanced Grants competition: Some statistics

On 26 June 2008, the European Research Council (ERC) published the official statistics of the submissions to the call for Advanced Grants. With a of total 2167 proposals that were submitted to the three domain deadlines throughout spring, the participation rate is considerably lower than for the previously launched Starting Grants for younger researchers.

766 proposals were submitted in the domain of "Life Sciences and Medicine", 997 in "Physical Sciences and Engineering" and 404 in "Social Science and Humanities". 50 nationalities are represented (2% Swiss nationals), the scientists working at institutions in 36 different countries (4.5% in Swiss institutions)

14% of applicants are women. The average age is 52 years, which reflects the target group of the ERC Advanced Grant scheme, i.e. already established research leaders. The call budget amounts to €517 million. 

The proposals have gone through the first step of peer review. During the period of time June to September 2008, these proposals will be further evaluated in the second step.

President F. Kafatos said: "The number of Advanced Grants applications is considerably lower than the number of applications to the first call for Starting Grants last year. This is not a surprise to us as limiting measures were taken by the ERC Scientific Council after the overwhelming mass of applications received for the first ERC call (over 9000). Now, after the first evaluation stage, we can see that the overall quality of the proposals submitted is really excellent. We are aware that the relatively low proportion of women applicants is a general problem in European research, especially in the target group of established researchers. This is a concern which the ERC will continue to address at every level."

Background information

Two new joint research programmes adopted

The “Eurostars” and “Ambient Assisted Living" joint research initiatives got the approval of the Council of Ministers on 23 and 24 June.

In AAL, 20 EU Member States as well as Israel, Norway and Switzerland will participate. This new joint research initiative is considered as a mean to respond to the growing demographic challenge and to facilitate the life of elder people. As elder people are important consumers, products and technologies targeting this group could also be of benefit for Europe’s ICT industry. The European Commission sees Europe even in the position of becoming a lead market for “ageing well” technologies. The six year AAL-programme is expected to amount to a total budget of €600 million: The first call for proposals will close on 21 August. Read more

EUREKA's Eurostars Programme is the first European funding and support programme to be specifically dedicated to SMEs. The Eurostars joint research programme brings together 26 EU Member States. plus Iceland, Israel, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Eurostars is a bottom up funding scheme, targeting close-to-the-market R&D of high tech SME’s in all industrial sectors. As AAL, Eurostars is a trans-national programme. At least two SME’s from two participating countries have to be involved in a project. Eurostars will last from 2008 to 2013 and foresees an overall budget of about €400 million. Research projects should not last longer than 3 years and results should be transformed into products within 2 years after the project has ended. The next application deadline is 21 November. Read more

EIT headquarters in Budapest

On 18 June, the Research Ministers of the EU decided that the seat of the administrative headquarters of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) would be located in Budapest. A first discussion during an informal dinner in the frame of the Competitiveness Council (Council of Ministers) meeting of 29-30 May had seen the Hungarian capital gather the support of 26 Member States, with only Poland opposing this choice. The negotiations held at a specially convened Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) resulted in Poland stepping down from its blocking minority position, thus allowing Budapest to win the race. The headquarters will host about 60 officials. More information

SER report on Switzerland's participation in FP6

A report analysing Switzerland’s Participation in the 6th EU Framework Programme and fact-sheets on the Swiss participation in different research priorities of FP6 has been published by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research SER.

In international comparison, Switzerland shows itself to be both very open in its choice of countries with which it has project partnerships, very well integrated at the heart of the collaborative network established by the great Western countries and an all-rounder in the research topics tackled. FP6 has therefore generated more than 32 000 project partnerships between researchers based in Switzerland and European researchers.

The subsidies received from this, which amounted to CHF 793 million, were mainly used to fund research in the areas of information technology (CHF 225 million, or 28.4% of the subsidies), life sciences and health (CHF 160 million, 20.2%) and nanotechnologies (CHF 92 million, 11.6%). Swiss tertiary-level institutions, i.e. universities, federal institutes of technology and universities of applied sciences (UAS) were the main beneficiaries of these subsidies (CHF 507 million, 63.9%), followed by SMEs, which received CHF 111 million (14.0%) in funding.

The Confederation's contribution to funding FP6 amounted to CHF 780 million, distributed over the course of the four-year duration of the programme. Switzerland therefore made a positive net financial return.

The average annual contribution made by Switzerland to FP6 (CHF 195 million) puts it in second place, behind the National Science Foundation, in terms of money spent by the Confederation on the direct funding of R&D. In return, the annual average amount of subsidies awarded to Switzerland-based researchers, as part of FP6, represents approximately 1.5% of the total gross domestic expenditure on R&D.

The report is available online in German and French. An English version is in preparation.

Practical guide to EU funding

A "Practical Guide to EU funding for research, development and innovation" has been developed by the services of the European Commission.

In addition to practical information on combining the different funding sources, the guide includes a description of each fund, advice for policy makers and an innovative Checklist and Scorecard. These allow potential beneficiaries to quickly identify exactly how they can access European funding at every stage of the development and implementation of a project.

The draft guide, accompanying documents and more information can be found on cordis.

The document is still a draft and potential beneficiaries, policy makers and all interested in EC funding are invited to send comments and suggestions by end of April 2009 to the authors.

Revised draft work programme ICT now available

An updated draft of the Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) Work programme 2009/10 of the 7th Framework Programme (dated 1 July 2008) is now available.

Please contact us, if you would like to have a look at it.

ICT Call 4 will probably be published in November or December 2008 with a deadline for the submission of proposals in Spring 2009.

If you are interested in one of the topics proposed, it will be our pleasure to support you in the preparation of a project proposal. Please contact us as soon as possible!

Publication of calls delayed

The expected calls in ENERGY, Environment (ENV), FOOD, HEALTH, Science in Society (SiS), Security (SEC), Socioeconomic Sciences and the Humanities (SSH), and SPACE have been postponed.

The publication of the calls, initially foreseen for July 2008, is now scheduled for 3 Sep 2008. The expected submission deadline for proposals is now December 2008 for most priorities, for some even later.

Please contact us, if you would like to have a look at the draft work programmes. Of course we will be glad to support you in the preparation of a project proposal. Please contact us as soon as possible - even now that we all gained some weeks:-) !

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