The University of Groningen researchers who were awarded an ERC grant this year were made the centre of attention last week. They were festively welcomed to the Academy Building and officially made members of the University of Groningen ERC Club. No fewer than nine researchers were invited because they had won a prestigious Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC); two others were invited because they were awarded an ERC Advanced Grant.
The Starting Grant laureates each receive a budget of about EUR 1.5 million from the ERC for pioneering research that will last about five years. The grant will enable them to conduct independent research with a team that they can form or expand. The winners of an Advanced Grant each receive about EUR 2.5 million.
The ERC programme is intended to support the most creative and driven researchers in every field of study. There is only one selection criterion – outstanding quality. The laureates are thus 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.
The Netherlands is very successful at gaining ERC research grants. This year 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.The University of Groningen holds a special position in the acquisition of ERC grants. With regard to Dutch universities, Groningen has 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 is by far and away the university with the most Starting Grants. Last year, the success percentage at European level was about 13 percent. The University of Groningen has a success percentage of over 25 percent.
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Within the University of Groningen, ERC consultant Neeltje Miedema of the EU team within the Transfer and Liaison Group together with former and current ERC grant recipients gives 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 works with other departments within the University (Academic Affairs and Human Resources), with the UMCG Research Office and with AgentschapNL.
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