18 European Research Council Awards for Ireland worth Over €30 Million Celebrated

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research, and the Irish Research Council (IRC) have today (01.07.15) jointly hosted a reception at the Royal Irish Academy to celebrate the success of Ireland’s researchers in the most recent calls to the highly prestigious European Research Council (ERC) funding schemes.

The ERC is considered to be the most prestigious funding programme in Europe, supporting investigator-driven frontier research across all disciplines on the basis of scientific excellence. As a significant component of the EU Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, the ERC will provide approximately €13 billion over seven years (2014-2020) to support exciting and challenging research projects through highly competitive calls. The three principal funding schemes provide support for early-career researchers with clear leadership potential (Starting Grants and Consolidator Grants), as well as providing more established researchers with significant funding for ground-breaking projects (Advanced Grants).

The first (2014) ERC calls under the Horizon 2020 Programme have seen an unparalleled level of success for researchers based in Ireland. In total 18 awards, with a combined value of over €30 million, were won, of which 10 were won through the Starting Grant scheme; this result ranked Ireland second in terms of rate of success, rising from 20th position the previous year. Seven awards won through the Consolidator Grant scheme also positioned Ireland as one of the more successful nations. In addition, the ERC has very recently announced that Prof Poul Holm (Trinity College Dublin) has won a highly prestigious Advanced Grant award. Furthermore, four existing ERC awardees based in Ireland have received additional support through the ERC Proof of Concept scheme, which will allow them to develop ideas from their ERC-funded projects in a more commercial direction.

In considering the extraordinary level of success demonstrated by Ireland’s researchers, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The ERC is a symbol of research excellence in Europe, provides good research support and is an exciting opportunity for researchers in Ireland. SFI encourages researchers in Ireland to apply to the ERC and provides supportive funding schemes. The success that has been achieved through the most recent calls clearly demonstrates the extremely high quality of research, and researchers, in Ireland, and should serve as an inspiration and encouragement to others to apply - success in this highly competitive programme is achievable.”

Dr Eucharia Meehan, Director of the IRC, added: “Due to the calibre of our researchers and the excellence of their research, Ireland has punched above its weight. The results highlight the importance of supporting researchers at all career stages, but in particular at the early stage, so as to optimise the pipeline of talent capable of competing in the global arena of the ERC.

“The Irish Research Council will continue the work of its predecessor councils and cultivate the potential of excellent researchers across all three domains of the ERC. Ireland’s researchers clearly have strengths in an interesting and diverse range of research areas.”

 The 2016 calls for the ERC’s schemes will open later in the year. SFI and the IRC are responsible for coordinating Ireland’s activities with the ERC, providing support and advice for prospective applicants. In partnership with Enterprise Ireland, financial support is also available to assist applicants in preparing competitive ERC proposals. Those interested in applying to the ERC are invited to get in touch with the National Contact Points based in SFI and the IRC for more details. 

Photo (L-R): Professor Mark Ferguson, Dr Eilenoroir Flynn, Professor Danny Kelly and Dr Eucharia Meehan 


Niamh Bradley / Alva O’Cleirigh, Science Foundation Ireland. Email: Niamh.bradley@sfi.ie / alva.ocleirigh@sfi.ie  Tel: 01 6073228 / 086-0271744 / 01 6073249 / 087-9152553


Paul Kilkenny, Irish Research Council. Email: pkilkenny@research.ie Tel: 01 2317143 / 086-3304552

Note to editors:

Science Foundation Ireland funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, education in and engagement with, STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and in particular to the growth of the economy.  See www.sfi.ie; SFI ERC Support Programme; SFI ERC Development Programme. 

To address the broad skills and research needs within society, the Irish Research Council supports excellent researchers in all disciplines. An agency of the Department of Education and Skills, the Council primarily funds early stage career researchers: namely, postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The Council represents Ireland in particular dimensions of Horizon 2020 and, by providing supports for H2020 applicants, enhances opportunities for the Irish research community. IRC ERC Support & Development Programme