ERC Starting (and Finishing) Grants

Just time for a quick note to announce that the European Research Council has announced the winners of the latest round of `Starting Grants’ (which are intended to further the research plans of early career researchers). Full details are here. Congratulations to all the winners, and especially¬† Erminia Calabrese in the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University!

In all, 408 applicants were selected for funding, hosted in 24 different countries. The split by nationality and discipline is as follows:

I’ll make two comments on the numbers.

First, the United Kingdom is host to a total of 64 awards. It is however very unclear what will happen in the case of a `No Deal’ Brexit in which the British Government refuses to honour its existing financial commitments. Hopefully even in this case these grants will go ahead in some form (perhaps funded directly by the UK).

Second, note that there is only one award for Ireland and nothing in either Physical Sciences or Life Sciences. This is very disappointing, but is probably a fair reflection of the Irish governments ongoing failure to invest in basic science.

It’s not that the Irish aren’t good at research. Here is another graphic that shows that 7 Irish researchers were actually awarded grants under this scheme, but none of them chose to hold their awards in Ireland:

 

 

That tells you something about the environment for early career researchers in this country.

The imminent departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union makes its future participation in such schemes unlikely. Brexit could be a great opportunity for the research community in Ireland, if only the Irish Government would seize it, but it would first need to recognize the benefits of increasing investment in research. Sadly I don’t think it will.

 

3 Responses to “ERC Starting (and Finishing) Grants”

  1. What seems clear is that the U.K. is disproportionately good at attracting high quality researchers from overseas, combined with some very professional support for grant applications. Finding good researchers and funds will be a lot more difficult in future if there is increasing reluctance of people in Europe to consider the U.K. as a destination, despite the inbuilt advantage of the English language.

    • I think that your last sentence is the reason for the first, i.e. the main reason the UK can attract good researchers from other countries is not the great food, wonderful weather, high amount of eroticism in daily life, or beautiful teeth of the inhabitants, but rather that they speak a language similar to what many have learned in school.

  2. […] While I don’t trust these tables much, together with Ireland’s very poor showing in the recent ERC grant round, they do paint a consistent picture of a higher education system that is struggling with with the […]

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