The European Research Council will release more than 2.4 billion euros in 2022 for exploratory research

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One of the biggest challenges in seismology is the scarcity of instrumentation in the Earth’s oceans, which cover 70% of its surface. Modern seismological instruments, which can anticipate earthquakes and mitigate some of the dire consequences of tsunamis, are not well suited for monitoring underwater areas (they are generally very expensive and have a short lifespan). Professor González Herráez’s project aims to provide a permanent and inexpensive solution to detect seismic activity in remote areas of the ocean. Its intention is to create a method to modernize existing vast networks of underwater telecommunications fiber optic cables and transform them into powerful seismic detection networks.

Research, Science and Innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas said: “Europe excels at turning money into great science, but still needs to improve its ability to turn great science in money and benefits to society. Over the past eight years, the ERC Proof of Concept Fellowships have helped top researchers advance in the world of entrepreneurship. I believe that the new European Innovation Council will also be able to help them in their efforts.

Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the ERC, said: “This important step shows once again that many researchers are spontaneously associating exploratory research and innovation. ERC-funded research is a long-term investment that lays the foundation for the industries and services of the future. The Proof of Concept program helps ERC fellows relate their findings to market or societal issues.

1,000 PoC projects funded

The Proof of Concept (PoC) grants, worth € 150,000 each, aim to help researchers explore the commercial or societal potential of their work. They can be used in various ways, for example to explore business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts.

Professor González Herráez’s new project builds on the findings of his previous research funded by the ERC, which has developed a new class of sensor networks using conventional fiber optic cables. Sensors can be used in a wide range of new fields, from biomechanics to smart grids. Currently focusing on the field of seismology, he and his team will use a single optoelectronic unit at the land end of the fiber optic cable, to monitor a full range of 50 km or more and generate information from thousands of measuring points. The proposed solution could easily allow the deployment of a large number of these sensor networks, especially in currently unmonitored areas. Another great advantage would be that the vast majority of fiber optic cables used in communications worldwide are suitable hosts for the proposed sensor. The system will first be tested in a submarine cable off the Greek coast (in Pylos, Peloponnese).

The other 61 projects awarded in this round of funding cover a variety of topics: including a process to enable personalized doses of drugs, an app to test children for synesthesia (e.g. when a person sees a number as a color particular) and a tool to automatically remove bugs from hardware data planes (the infrastructure of a network that carries its traffic). See more examples of funded projects.

The new grants were awarded to researchers working in 15 countries: Austria (1 grant), Belgium (3), Denmark (2), Finland (2), France (6), Germany (4), Greece (2), Ireland (2), Israel (3), Italy (9), Netherlands (8), Romania (1), Spain (4), Switzerland (5) and United Kingdom (10).

Proof of Concept (PoC) Grants – What’s New in 2019.

PoC grants were created by the ERC Scientific Council to complement the range of ERC core grants and other activities, all of which are part of the EU’s research and innovation program, Horizon 2020. An independent body see again shows that the funding, available since 2011, has helped ERC-funded scientists attract capital to make their research marketable and start new businesses. The budget for the entire PoC 2019 competition – which takes place in three rounds – is 25 million euros. Today’s announcement is for the second roundtable of 2019, in which the ERC assessed 132 applications, slightly lower than the 134 assessed during the first round.

To further facilitate the transfer of knowledge gained through ERC-funded research to the world, ERC recently launched a program Virtual business fair. It aims to help create links between scientists funded by the ERC PoC and specialist investors who can find the necessary funding and support.

For potential candidates

The PoC grant program is only open to researchers funded by the ERC. ERC fellows can apply for funding in one of the three cycles of the call each year. Eligible researchers who wish to compete for funding in 2019 have until September 19, 2019 to apply for the last round of funding. Visit our website for full application details.

European Research Council

the European Research Council, created by the European Union in 2007, is the leading European funding organization for excellence in frontier research. Each year, it selects and funds the best creative researchers of all nationalities and ages, to carry out projects in Europe. The ERC also strives to attract the best researchers from all over the world to come and work in Europe. To date, the ERC has funded approximately 9,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers. It offers four core grant programs: Seed, Consolidation, Advanced, and Synergy Grants. The ERC is governed by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council. The president of the ERC is Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. The ERC has a budget of more than 13 billion euros for the years 2014 to 2020, Horizon 2020, for which the Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Carlos Moedas, is responsible.


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