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Ten Years ERC at the University of Groningen

A European Success Story
06 April 2017
Ten years ERC

Within our university there are many proud ERC stories from early days mounting to the 60 ERC Laureates in 2017. The ERC's mission is to encourage the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and to support investigator-driven frontier research across all fields, on the basis of scientific excellence.

The Groningen ERC success kicked off with Dr. Armagan Kocer, Dr. Sabrina Corbellini, and Prof. Ben Feringa in 2008. In the context of 10 years celebration, th e ERC highlighted 10 European stories, including Ben Feringa, multiple ERC, and Nobel prize winner. Watch the video:

prof. Ben Feringa. ERC laureate
prof. Ben Feringa. ERC laureate

ERC Starting Grants and Consolidator grants aim to support up-and-coming research leaders who are about to establish their own research team, and start conducting independent research or respectively consolidate a team. ERC Advanced Grants allow exceptional established researchers of any nationality and age to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects that open new directions in their respective research fields or other domains. The Proof of Concept funding helps ERC grant holders bridge the gap between their research and the earliest stage of a marketable innovation.

Highlight: University of Groningen top of the list

The Netherlands is very successful at gaining ERC research grants. For example, in 2011, 47 Starting Grants were awarded to researchers at Dutch universities. That is nearly ten percent of the total of 480 grants, which together represent a total value of EUR 670 million. In Groningen, no fewer than nine researchers received the prestigious Starting Grant from the European Research Council; three out of 47 researchers were awarded the ERC Advanced Grant.

The University of Groningen held a special position in the acquisition of ERC grants. With regard to Dutch universities, Groningen had by then achieved an excellent score for the fourth year in a row. With 19 successful researchers since 2007, when the first ERC call was published, Groningen was by far and away the university with the most Starting Grants in The Netherlands. In 2011, the success percentage at European level was about 12 percent. The University of Groningen had a success percentage of over 25 percent.

By 2012, at the first ERC lustrum, the University of Groningen and the UMCG were awarded 50 Million euro in ERC grants: 26 Starting Grants, 6 Advanced Grants and 2 Proof of Concept grants. This ranked the University of Groningen again at the top of the ERC funding list in the Netherlands and among the top 10 of most ERC awarded universities in Europe!

The laureates at the University of Groningen are mainly linked to the high class research institutes at the University, such as the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, the Stratingh Institute for Chemistry, the NOVA top research school to which the Kapteyn Institute for Astronomy is linked, or ERIBA, the joint medical-biological research institute of the University of Groningen/UMCG.

ERC Grants per year
ERC grants per year
Total ERC starting grants: 37
Total ERC advanced grants: 9
Total ERC consolidator grants: 7
Total ERC proof of concept grants: 5

University ERC support structure

2008-2012 Within the University of Groningen, ERC consultant drs. Neeltje Miedema, together with ERC grant recipients gave advice to prospective laureates on how to translate and present their talent in a way that will lead to the acquisition of ERC project finance. To this end she worked with other departments within the University (Academic Affairs), with the UMCG Research Office and with AgentschapNL, especially in close cooperation with Human Resources, with Dr. Margot Edens, training consultant.

Together whith ERC laureate Andrey Baryshev, she founded the ERC Laureate Society of the University of Groningen. ERC Society meetings were held appr. 3 times a year on an independent and informal level. On top of that a mentoring meeting was held every year and a festive meeting chaired by the president of the University, prof. Sibrand Poppema, or the rector magnificus, first prof. Frans Zwarts and later prof. Elmer Sterken, to welcome the newest laureates.

Pictures by Kees van de Veen. Edited by Robert Otten and Ronald Vermeer

2013-2017 A new period started when Prof. Ritsert Jansen, the appointed Dean of Talent Development, implemented the first all over Talent Development plan. The support basis was broadened, including the foundation of a network of newly appointed Faculty Funding Officers (FFO) and a talent development team on central level. In 2017 the third plan is expected.

I n Horizon 2020, EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, which runs from 2014-2020, the budget of the ERC programme almost doubled to 13.1 Billion euro, compared to Framework Programme 7 (2007-2013).

More information


If you want to apply for an ERC Grant, please feel welcome to contact:

Last modified:15 September 2017 3.19 p.m.

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