The European Research Council has funded 870 projects in 2012, out of 7,045 proposals received, according to its annual report.
This represents an increase of 11 per cent in applications compared to 2011. As a result, the ERC, which funds basic research with Commission money, spent a total of €1.5 billion on funding individual researchers doing blue skies project in 2012, the report said. Choosing these projects involved more than 5,000 external reviewers.
The ERC says in its report that the smooth operation of funding in 2012 is down to the fact that its executive agency, which handles the council’s day-to-day running, is now fully established. The agency had 380 staff at the end of last year, the ERC pointed out.
Improvements still need to be made in shortening the time between signing a grant agreement and paying out the money, the ERC admitted. For Advanced Grants the time-to-grant in 50 per cent of cases was 379 days, when, according to the ERC target, it should have been 365 days. However, the time-to-grant target for Starting Grants was met.
“The ERC is the best proof against the image of a dysfunctional EU, as it highlights in an exemplary way that European institutions can create European added value in highly innovative ways,” said ERC president Helga Nowotny, in her personal message in the report.
The report also confirms that the ERC will run calls for its Starting, Consolidator, Advanced, Proof of Concept, and Synergy grants in 2013.