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Brussels, 10 February 2014
First "ERA Chairs" to boost research excellence in 11 regions
Eleven universities and technical institutes in less developed regions in Europe are to receive up to €2.4 million each in EU funding to boost their research capacity though the appointment of the first ever "ERA Chairs", Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, announced on Monday. The initiative aims to bridge Europe's innovation divide by attracting top academics to organisations so that they can compete with centres of excellence elsewhere in the European Research Area (ERA).
Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said: "The response to the first ERA Chairs call was enormous. It showed there is a real desire among research organisations across Europe to raise their game. I want to make sure that no one with potential is left behind, so Horizon 2020 will provide funding for more ERA Chairs in places where they are needed the most."
The first pilot call was open to research organisations located in less-developed EU regions or similar areas in countries associated to the EU's seventh research framework programme (FP7). A total of 111 proposals were submitted for evaluation, largely exceeding expectations. Nearly all Member States with eligible regions were represented.
Once recruited, the ERA Chairs and their teams will undertake research in a wide spectrum of scientific fields, such as aquaculture, environmental chemistry, veterinary medicine, human computer interactions and low carbon emission in cities (see table).
Around 15 more ERA Chairs are expected to be announced next year following the first Horizon 2020 call published in December.
The selected institutions have to award ERA Chairs to outstanding academics who have the capacity to raise standards and attract more high level staff as well as money from other sources, such as EU research funding or regional funds. The positions must be published and respect ERA guidelines (gender balance, fairness, transparency, etc.). ERA Chair holders can come from anywhere in the world.
Under Horizon 2020, ERA Chairs will be funded as a core scheme under the actions on "Spreading excellence and widening participation". The first Horizon 2020 call launched on 11 December 2013 (IP/13/1232) included a budget of €34 million for the next round of ERA chairs and the deadline for applications is 15 October 2014. Details of the new call and eligible regions are available on the Participant Portal.
List of projects to be funded under ERA Chairs FP7 Pilot Call
For more information