欧盟中国通讯 EU-China News

European Research Council Holds Information Session for Researchers in Beijing  


The European Research Council (ERC), held an information session at the EU Delegation to China in June, with the aim of enticing researchers based in China to pursue scientific research grant opportunities in Europe.

Though the program has been in existence since 2007 and is open to applicants from anywhere in the world, only four grantees have come from mainland China; a trend the ERC hopes to reverse through greater outreach and propagation directed towards the Chinese research community.

The event comprised talks by three representatives of the ERC and one Chinese grantee. Professor Alain Peyraube, a member of the Scientific Council, introduced how the ERC is administered. He explained that there is a fully administrative executive agency which handles most administrative functions and the Scientific Council itself which is an independent body of 22 senior researchers. The Council establishes peer review and oversees the progress of all sponsored scientific programs.

He further explained that the grants are divided into two groups: starting grants and advanced grants. Both grant schemes draw from the ERC’s 7.5 billion euro allocation from 2007 to 2013; the allocation is further divided into three domains of Physical Science, Life Science, and Social Science. Both types of grants are available to researchers from anywhere in the world, so long as they perform their research at a host institution in the EU or FP7 affiliated countries.

The starting grants differ because they are awarded to junior researchers (those who have only had their PhDs for 2 to 12 years) and have an upward limit of 2 million euro awarded over five years per grant; while the advanced grants are meant for well-established, and world-leading researchers that the ERC may recognize as such, who may be awarded up to 3.5 million euro over five years per grant.

The process is extremely competitive; in 2007, the first year of the program, 9,167 propositions were submitted, while only 303 were granted approval. While the ERC likes to solicit as many proposals as possible, the approval rate has hovered between 12 percent and 15 percent for each year.

The next speaker was Dr. Cécile Menétrey-Monchau, Research Programme Officer for Advanced Grants, who focused on the ERC’s mission and how the awarding of grants is decided. She stressed that “excellence is the only criteria” and explained that the ERC is enthusiastic about open and direct frontier research and the recognition of individual achievements over large groups. Prospective grantees must consider that their work is ‘profound’ and has a huge ‘potential impact’.

Samantha Christey, the Information and Communication Officer, then spoke about the ERC’s outreach efforts. Though based in the EU, the organization seeks a diversified research pool from all over the world. This includes China as well as other developing countries and the United States.

Finally Dr. Chen Yiya, herself one of the few grantees from Mainland China, spoke about her experience. Her proposal to study pitch variation in Chinese language was granted in 2007 and she currently carries out her research as a member of the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics in Holland.

All speakers then fielded questions from attendees about other specific details. Interested parties in the ERC are encouraged to visit them online at http://erc.europa.eu

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