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Three of five Norwegian ERC grants go to Centres of Excellence

Norwegian researchers have received a total of 65 of the highly prestigious grants since the ERC began its allocations in 2007. The distribution of Norwegian grants between the ERC funding schemes is as follows:

  • 28 Advanced Grants, which are awarded to senior research leaders;
  • 8 Consolidator Grants, which are awarded to established researchers;
  • 27 Starting Grants, which are awarded to early career researchers;
  • 1 Proof of Concept Grant, which is awarded for commercialisation of current or recently completed ERC projects;
  • 1 Synergy Grant, which is awarded to large-scale collaborative projects.

The SFF centres have the potential to be even more successful than they are today under the ERC, says Anders Hanneborg. (Photo: Sverre Jarild) Clear correlation between the SFF scheme and ERC success

At least 37 of the 65 projects have had a project manager who is, or has been, affiliated with an SFF centre.

Thirty-four centres have been awarded SFF status under three SFF funding rounds. The centres have had a total of 45 directors, 11 of whom have received an ERC Advanced Grant and one of whom has received an ERC Starting Grant.

“The figures show a clear correlation between successful applications for SFF centre status and winning an ERC grant. Researchers at SFF centres are in the best position to succeed in the ERC selection process, where scientific merit is the sole criterion. ERC grants carry an international stamp of quality. The centres’ researchers show that they can succeed in a competition that involves all of Europe, and make a name for themselves outside Norway,” says Anders Hanneborg, Executive Director of the Division for Science at the Research Council of Norway.

All SFF centres expected to have activities targeting the ERC

Phase two of the application review is currently underway for the fourth SFF call for proposals. Thirty-four applicants are competing to become new SFF centres. The centres that are awarded SFF status from 2017 must document that they are following up on their plans for applications for international funding.

“The SFF centres have the potential to be even more successful than they are today under the ERC. We expect all SFF centres to apply for ERC grants themselves or to contribute to other applications. The centres awarded SFF status this spring will be required to document this type of activity. This is one of the elements that will be assessed in the midterm evaluation of the centres,” Mr Hanneborg states.

Andreas Moxnes is one of the three researchers at a Norwegian research institution who received an ERC Starting Grant this year. (Photo: UiO) Great help in applying for ERC funding

Andreas Moxnes is one of the three researchers at a Norwegian research institution who received an ERC Starting Grant this year. Dr Moxnes moved from the US two years ago to work at the Department of Economics at the University of Oslo, which is also the host institution for the SFF Centre for the Study of Equality, Social Organization and Performance (ESOP). His story shows that even researchers who are not directly affiliated with an SFF centre can draw great benefit from them. The centres can be very important for the surrounding research environments.

“Although I’m not formally affiliated with ESOP, I’m continually in contact with the researchers there. The borders within the Department of Economics are in practice invisible. It is a high-powered environment that aims to generate research of the highest quality. Being a member of such an ambitious research environment makes it feel quite natural to work towards applying for ERC funding. These conditions make it a perfectly natural step to seek funding from the ERC.”

Dr Moxnes won an ERC grant on his second attempt. He has benefited greatly from the feedback from ESOP researchers during the application process.

“The experience of the centre’s researchers has been very important. I received input at many levels of the application process, in terms of the way I needed to word the grant proposal, develop the concept and present the project during my interview at the ERC.” 

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