Six European Research Council Starting awards worth close to €9 million won by researchers in Ireland

The Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland jointly announce another solid performance for Ireland in 2015 in relation to Starting Grants from the prestigious European Research Council (ERC).

Six Irish researchers have recently received notification of awards from the ERC, representing a combined investment of almost €9 million. The funding has been awarded to researchers in five institutions: Dublin Institute of Technology, National University of Ireland Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and University College Dublin. ERC Starting Grants support up-and-coming research leaders to establish independent research teams to conduct novel, investigator-led, basic research. The scheme targets promising researchers who have demonstrated the ‘ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their scientific proposal’. Awards of up to €1.5 Million are provided to each successful recipient.

The 2015 awards are the second round of ERC Starting Grant awards under the European UnionHorizon 2020 Research and Innovation Framework. Welcoming the outcome, the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English T.D, commented that ‘I am delighted to see success for Ireland on the European research stage once again this year and I would like to congratulate each of the recipients. 2014 was a record year for Ireland in relation to ERC Starting Grants and it is very encouraging to see that we have put in another solid performance in 2015 in what is an extremely competitive and rigorous scheme. These awards will enable talented researchers to extend the boundaries of their respsective disciplines and develop into future research leaders of international standing.’

Dr. Eucharia Meehan, Director of the Irish Research Council said 'Ireland’s success in the ERC Starting Grant scheme demonstrates the importance of and value in investing in the development of excellent researchers. Four of the 2015 awards are in the social science and humanities (SSH)domain and it is very interesting to note that three of the four SSH awardees are previous recipients of Irish Research Council primer funding. ERC grants are particularly important for social science and humanities researchers who develop their pioneering and frontier research largely on their own initiative. We put in place a specific strategy in recent years to increase our support for this cohort through our New Horizons funding scheme, targeting Horizon 2020, but also through a specific Basic Research Excellence Award, to nurture applicants with promise. As long as we continue to support pioneering young researchers in Ireland across all disciplines, I am very confident we will continue to leverage ERC success into the future.'

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, 'I congratulate this year’s ERC awardees on their success. SFI strongly encourages the Irish research community to apply to the ERC and provides significant grant support for them to do so, including our specific ERC support and development programmes together with a number of programmes specifically targeted at supporting early career researchers including SIRG (Starting Investigator Research Grant), CDA (Career Development Award) and the prestigious Fellowship programmes with The Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust. Researchers based in Ireland have, in the last two ERC Starting Grants under Horizon 2020, succeeded in winning an outstanding 16 awards or 2.4% of the total awarded. 10 of these have been in the Life Sciences or Physical Sciences & Engineering domains totalling approximately €15 million. This is a great achievement and highlights once again the high quality of research, and researchers in Ireland. We should aim to continue this success.'