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‘Excellent Science’ Swiss researchers secure 22 EU grants

Research proposals in the life sciences, social sciences and humanities, and physical sciences and engineering received funding, with the most grants going to the latter category.


Twenty-two researchers from eight Swiss institutions will receive prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Consolidators Grants, which are intended to support talented early-career scientists.

Grants were awarded to researchers at the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Lausanne and Zurich, the Universities of Bern, Basel, Fribourg and Geneva, as well as the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and the Paul Scherrer Institute.

In total, €605 million (CHF650 million) of funding was awarded to 314 researchers from 23 countries. The coveted grants, which were awarded to 13.8% of the 2,274 total applicants, support research in the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and social sciences and humanities.

“In 2016 the demand for this type of ERC funding increased again. It testifies to the need for more funding for curiosity-driven research in Europe. It is satisfactory to see that, for one more call, the success rates of women and men are comparable,” said ERC president Jean-Pierre Bourguignon in a statementexternal link on Tuesday.

For Switzerland the balance was still skewed toward male researchers, with four women and eighteen men received the grants, mostly in the area of physical sciences and engineering.

Selected research project topics ranged from microbial metabolism, gene regulation, sleep, cancer and cognition to microbial metabolism, dark matter and exoplanets.

Swiss status

The ERC Consolidator Grants are part of the “Excellent Science” pillar of the European Union research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.external link

Grants support up to five years of research with up to €2 million per grant. They are awarded to researchers with at least seven and up to 12 years of post-doctoral experience and “a scientific track record showing great promise.”

Switzerland’s vote in favour of an initiative to limit immigration in 2014 has placed the nation’s future ability to participate in ERC programmes like the Consolidator Grants into question, as they are open only to EU member states or associated countries – a status that Switzerland would have to relinquish if it violates EU bilateral accords on the free movement of people. and agencies

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