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Extra funding boost for ERC researchers

A total of 33 European Research Council (ERC) grantees are set to receive top-up funding to help them get their ideas to market. As part of the ERC's 'Proof of Concept' scheme, the grants, worth EUR 150 000 each, will help researchers move their ideas from the research stage ...

A total of 33 European Research Council (ERC) grantees are set to receive top-up funding to help them get their ideas to market. As part of the ERC's 'Proof of Concept' scheme, the grants, worth EUR 150 000 each, will help researchers move their ideas from the research stage to the innovation and development stage. Designed for researchers who have already been awarded ERC grants, these Proof of Concept grants will hopefully help them push their basic research towards the market. The funding can cover activities such as establishing intellectual property rights, technical validation, market research or investigation of commercial and business opportunities. Although this scheme represents just a small part of the whole ERC budget, it can have considerable positive effects by unlocking innovation potential. EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn comments: 'In order for Europe to stay competitive we have to bring more of our best ideas to market. The 'Proof of Concept' scheme means that ERC grant holders can maximise the potential of their discoveries. This is good for them and their teams, and it is good for the European economy.' The Proof of Concept scheme is split into two calls with a total budget of EUR 10 million. Out of a total of 75 proposals that were submitted for the first call, 33 have been selected for funding, representing a success rate of around 44 %. The awarded grants will be spread over 15 European countries with the highest number of grantees selected based in the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands. Dr Deniz Kirik's TREATPD ('Cell and gene therapy based approaches for treatment of Parkinson's disease: From models to clinics') was one of the projects selected for Proof of Concept funding. The researcher, based at Lund University, Sweden will use the funding to support his work into gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of the disease and to develop new treatments based on advanced cell and gene therapy techniques. 'The "Proof of Concept" scheme is gathering speed,' adds President of the ERC, Professor Helga Nowotny. 'With relatively little investment, it helps to harvest the very best ideas coming from frontier research, and takes them one decisive step further in the direction of potential innovation. This new funding initiative has also inspired more of our grantees to explore the possibilities of the results and findings they have obtained. It leads them to ask the question: "What follows from my research?" In the longer term, such a change in attitude will be good for Europe and will strengthen links between research and society.' The deadline for applications for the second part of the call is 3 October. The ERC is the first European funding body set up to support investigator-driven frontier research. Its main aim is to stimulate scientific excellence by supporting and encouraging the very best, truly creative scientists, scholars and engineers to be adventurous and take risks in their research. The scientists are encouraged to go beyond established frontiers of knowledge and the boundaries of disciplines by taking an innovative approach. The ERC acts as a complementary body; it functions alongside national research funding agencies as well as being a flagship component of the 'Ideas' programme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).For more information, please visit:European Research Council (ERC):http://erc.europa.eu/