With the support of the European Research Council (ERC) "Proof of Concept" grants, 59 researchers in Europe will now get the chance to turn their inventions into viable products. Among these mould-breaking ideas are such innovations as a simple blood test to diagnose breast cancer, a timber wood tracking device to help prevent illegal deforestation, and artificial veins modelled on marine sponges. Worth up to €150,000, these grants will allow selected ERC grantees to build start-ups, establish intellectual property rights for their inventions or explore other ways to test their ideas on the market.
EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas said: "Europe has plenty of world-class research, but not enough of it reaches the marketable product stage as commercialised, pioneering goods and services. The Proof of Concept grants will enable some of our top research to compete with the best innovations out there. This will help improve our ability to bring innovations to market, boost competitiveness and create the jobs and growth needed in Europe."
The 59 grants announced today are part of the second round of the ERC Proof of Concept competition. The budget for the whole call is €18 million. In total, 442 applications were submitted in this call; a 51% increase in comparison to the previous competition.
In this second round of the call, grants go to researchers in 15 countries across the European Research Area: the Netherlands (11), the United Kingdom (9), Spain (8), France (6), Israel (6), Germany (4), Italy (4), Switzerland (3), Ireland (2), Belgium (1), Finland (1), Greece (1), Norway (1), Sweden (1) and Turkey (1).
Set up in 2007 by the EU, the European Research Council is the first European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run five-year-projects based in Europe. The ERC also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. To date, the ERC has funded more than 4,500 top researchers at various stages of their careers. Under the new EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, the ERC has a considerably increased budget of over €13 billion.
The funding scheme 'Proof of Concept' was introduced in 2011 as top-up funding for ERC grantees to contribute to stimulating innovation. A single grant can be worth up to €150,000. The call is reserved for all researchers benefitting from an on-going or recently completed ERC grant. The funding is for up to 18 months per project. The next call for proposals – 'Proof of Concept' 2015 – is currently open with rounds of funding closing on 5 February, 28 May and 1 October 2015. According to the new rules, ERC grantees can apply only for one of the three rounds in this call.
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