Proof-of-concept grants funded by the European Research Council have just been offered to 55 successful frontier researchers.

Worth €150,000 (~£129,000) each, the grants will be used to explore the commercial or societal potential of the results of their research projects. This funding is part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe.

The selected projects cover a variety of different fields and questions. These include using artificial intelligence algorithms and earth observation data management features to identify the state of world food security by region; using sound fields to separate blood components as an alternative to centrifuge; and  new types of time-temperature indicators for cold-chain transport of food and pharmaceutical products such as vaccines.

Out of 120 evaluated proposals, 55 projects were selected for funding. The new grants were awarded to researchers working in 14 countries: Israel (9), Germany (9), Spain (7), France (7), the Netherlands (6), the UK (4), Sweden (3), Portugal (2), Norway (2), and Turkey (2). In addition, researchers in Finland, Cyprus, Denmark, Belgium  have each won one. 

The Proof of Concept (PoC) grant competition is open only to ERC grantees. They can apply for top-up funding for their existing or recently completed research projects. The 2022 Work Programme included two PoC grant calls or competitions. The winners of the first competition have already been announced, as have the results of the first round of the second 2022 call. Today’s announcement concerns the second of three rounds of this second call. The overall budget for PoCs in 2022 is €50 million.

In total, around 1,585 PoC projects have so far received funding since 2011. With the additional money, ERC grantees can, for example, verify the practical viability of scientific concepts, explore business opportunities, or prepare patent applications. According to a recent survey, more than half of the researchers awarded PoC grants have either created companies or transferred the results of their research to pre-existing companies.

However, the statistics and final list of successful candidates are provisional. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom allows for associating the UK to the current EU research and innovation funding programme, Horizon Europe, subject to the adoption of a Protocol.

As this Protocol has not been adopted so far, the UK is still considered “non-associated” to Horizon Europe. Therefore, the successful proposals of applicants based in a country in the process of associating to Horizon Europe will be eligible for funding only if the relevant Horizon Europe association agreement applies by the time of the signature of the grant agreement. However, successful applicants from UK host institutions can still be funded, provided they move to a host institution in an eligible country.