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Germany tops latest ERC Proof of Concept funding round

Image: BATMANV, via Shutterstock

Final five UK winners from scheme must decide whether to take substitute funding or move

Germany-based researchers have emerged top in the latest round of European Research Council awards through its Proof of Concept scheme, winning 21 of 102 awards.

The €150,000 grants are designed to assist the commercialisation of innovations, building on work from a previous ERC frontier research grant. The latest round for the scheme is the third and final of 2023, bringing the total number of Proof of Concept awards for the year to 240, receiving a total of €36m.

After Germany, Italy was the next most common destination for the latest round, hosting 12 awards, with Dutch and Israeli institutions each hosting 11 winners.

Five researchers won funding to do their work in UK institutions. But because the UK’s association to the EU’s Horizon Europe programme only resumed from 1 January, whereas the funding round is from 2023, they will only receive ERC funding if they transfer their proposal abroad. Alternatively, they can receive funding from the UK government.

Proof of Concept funding is available to researchers from across the sciences and humanities. The latest round is funding projects ranging from a video game designed to teach ancient history to non-invasive electrical stimulation to treat sleep disorders.

Of the 240 grants awarded from the scheme in 2023, host institutions in Germany led the way with 40 recipients, followed by Spain with 30 and the UK with 26.

Applications are currently open for the first scheme round of 2024, with a submission deadline of 14 March.