This event wanted to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the ERC and also honor the UAB-CIE Sphere ERC researchers. The European Commission launched the ERC program with the aim of funding the excellence in research in Europe. Calls open every year for researchers from all over the world working in any area of knowledge in one of the member states or associated countries of the European Union.
Margarita Arboix, Rector of the UAB, and Arcadi Navarro, Secretary of Universities and Research, welcomed the attendees and emphasized the commitment of the University with the ERC researchers. Núria Sebastián, former Vice-President of the ERC gave a talk on “ERC: a strategic vision”, in which she gave some facts and numbers of the awarded ERC projects in Spain and in the UAB-CIE Sphere. Globally, the ERC program has invested more than twenty billion euros over the years, representing 17 % of the budget of the H2020, funding over 7,000 projects of the more than 60,000 applications (success rate is about 11 %). More than 50,000 people have worked or are working on ERC projects, generating over 100,000 publications, 7 % of which are in the top 1 % most cited worldwide, and over 800 patents. Also, around 17 % of the ERC team members are from non-EU countries.
In Spain, 389 ERC funded projects have been awarded in these ten years, 46 of them in 2016 (23 StG and 23 CoG). The UAB-CEI Sphere has gained 39 ERC since 2007 (15 StG, 14 CoG, 7 AdG and 3 PoC), of which 73 % of the principal investigators are men and 27 % women. The projects awarded belong to the physical sciences & engineering area, the social sciences and humanities area, and the life sciences area, in this order.
ICMAB counts now with 9 ERC funded projects (3 StG, 4CoG, 1AdG, 1PoC), being the first Institute within the CSIC in this ranking. It is the 7th Research Institute in Spain, and the 12th counting the whole CSIC and universities. It represents 23 % of the ERC obtained within the UAB-CIE Sphere. The Institute, since 2015 a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence, provides an attractive environment for highly talented and qualified researchers.
Following Núria Sebastián's talk, four UAB-CEI researchers talked about their experience after being awarded with a ERC project. Marta Mas, from ICMAB, who has been awarded with a StG and a PoC, affirmed that receiving this kind of funding had a very positive impact in her research career. The other researchers that participated in the event were Isabelle Anguelosvki (Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, ICTA), Ana Caño (Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics, CRAG) and Mario Cáceres (Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine, IBB-UAB).
A video featuring some ERC researchers of the UAB-CEI Sphere was prepared to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the ERC. In general, the researchers affirm that with the ERC projects they now have the opportunity to work in what they like, with more freedom, and can focus in their research. They also feel more respected and recognized by the scientific community, have gained visualization of their research and, more importantly, they have the opportunity to build up their own and highly skilled research group. Both the CSIC and the FECYT have also prepared a video for the ten years of ERC, in which some of the ICMAB ERC researchers appear.
Finally, the event also aimed at encouraging researchers to further apply for an ERC project, and to this end, Esther Rodríguez, the ERC contact person in Spain, gave a talk on this subject. The closing was conducted by Armand Sánchez, Vice-Rector of Research and Transfer of the UAB.
*StG: Starting grant; CoG: Consolidator Grant; AdG: Advanced Grant; PoC: Proof of Concept