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ERC planning closer ties to media and politicians

Schemes unveiled in European Research Council’s 2022 external communication strategy

The European Research Council is planning to work more closely with media and politicians this year, as part of its efforts to help the research it funds gain greater societal impact and support.

Plans to boost ties to journalists and policymakers were unveiled in an external ERC communications strategy for the year ahead, published on 6 January.

The plans include creating a new scheme to bring ERC grant recipients together with journalists, “in order to demystify science, build trust and promote mutual understanding”, ERC president Maria Leptin said in her foreword to the strategy.

Work placements

The science journalism grant scheme will entail placing science journalists in the labs of ERC grantees, and placing researchers in newsrooms, according to the strategy. A test project in 2022 will pave the way for a broader roll out in 2023.

In addition, Leptin said that the ERC’s remit to fund work led by researchers’ own ideas “can sometimes be confusing for politicians”, who are under pressure to produce short-term results, in particular during crises like the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said it will be “more important than ever for the ERC through its communication actions to explain to policymakers and the public why frontier research is a wise investment”.

Policy factsheets

In this regard, the strategy said an important action for 2022 will be the release of policy factsheets highlighting work funded by the ERC and links between this work and priority policy areas.

Leptin said the development of vaccines against the pandemic “took decades of work by dedicated scientists all around the world”, making the vaccines a topical example of the benefits of the kind of research the ERC funds.

She added: “From the social sciences and humanities, we can also contribute new ideas about how to live sustainably, how to confront inequality, how we might work and live and educate ourselves in future.”