Edinburgh success in vital European research awards

Seven early career Edinburgh academics have secured highly competitive and prestigious European awards that support emerging scientists to pursue their most promising ideas.

View of Europe with beams of light coming from countries

The European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants are given annually to the continent’s most talented researchers to launch their own projects and form their own teams.

With seven awards, Edinburgh is the most successful UK university and the fifth most successful in Europe.

The grants will enable Edinburgh researchers to undertake a range of projects including creating a framework for trustworthy machine learning systems in line with EU regulation, deepening understanding about cellular communications in the nervous system, and devising a way to harness the power of communities to make a global difference.

European success

The success builds on Edinburgh’s strong record in securing European funding.

During Horizon 2020, the EU funding program which ran from 2014-2020, the University secured more than €140M from the ERC in almost 100 projects. The University was the tenth most successful in Europe, and fourth in the UK, in terms of securing ERC awards.

University leaders say these vital grants - and the insights they will deliver – underline the importance of UK institutions maintaining access to European funding, such as Horizon Europe.

Uncertainties around the UK’s associate status for Horizon Europe and future levels of funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) highlight the importance of Edinburgh researchers continuing to apply for – and win – these awards, they add.

Winning an ERC grant is the golden ticket in terms of recognition and funding for transformative research. We are delighted that our researchers are continuing to apply for and win these prestigious grants, despite uncertainties around the UK’s association to EU funding programmes. We urge the UK Government to redouble its efforts to associate to Horizon Europe, so that our researchers can continue to benefit from this unique opportunity to carry out ground-breaking research.

Professor Christina Boswell,Vice Principal for Research and Innovation

The successful applicants are: Annis Richardson from the School of Biological Sciences; Jorryt Matthee from the School of Physics and Astronomy; Jacob Page from the School of Maths; Antonio Vergari from the School of Informatics; Thomas Bauwens from the School of GeoSciences; Diego Robledo from the Roslin Institute; and Rafael Gois de Almeida from the Centre for Discovery Brain Science.

Prestigious awards

The ERC Starting Grants are worth €636 million and are part of the Horizon Europe programme, funded by the European Union.

This year’s awards attracted nearly 3,000 proposals. The grants will create more than 2,000 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, and other staff at the host institutions, according to the ERC.

We are proud that we are empowering younger researchers to follow their curiosity. These new ERC laureates bring a remarkable wealth of scientific ideas, they will certainly further our knowledge and some already have practical applications in sight. I wish them all the best of luck with their explorations.

Mariya GabrielEuropean Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Related links

Edinburgh Research Office

About ERC Starting Grants

European Research Council 

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