The European Research Council (ERC) is working hard to support cutting-edge research, innovation and development in new and emerging fields, strengthening high-quality research through competitive funding. Against this backdrop, the EU-funded project 'Emerging research areas and their coverage by ERC-supported projects' (ERACEP) has identified emerging research areas in Europe and analysed how the ERC supports them. Dynamic research fields and emerging topics identified include brain–computer interface, kinematics, biodiesel, fuel cells, radiation, nanopollution, prenatal diagnosis, environmental health issues and AIDS in Africa. To achieve its aims, the project team looked at how ERC-funded research themes conform to the identified emerging areas based on new methodological approaches. It investigated the differences in national contributions and international partnerships related to these topics. Such international profiling can help identify which countries are the most active players in emerging areas of interest, and to what degree countries active in these topics cooperate with one another. Moreover, within this context, assessing how papers from European scientists differ from American papers could shed light on the EU's progress and positioning in emerging research topics. The ability to articulate these research topics is also useful for identifying European experts in each field and for evaluating the effectiveness of research initiatives. Overall, ERACEP has developed valuable methods and tools that help policymakers and funding agencies pinpoint emerging research topics in order to better match grant applications for frontier issues and to channel funding more effectively. This is instrumental for keeping the EU at the forefront of research and innovation, playing a pivotal role in advancing competitiveness and economic growth. Fed by the latest research, a stronger European knowledge economy will brighten the continent's future.