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Curing cancer, tackling climate change, forecasting earthquakes - such challenges and other scientific quests are simply too big to address for one researcher - even the most excellent. That is why the EU's European Research Council (ERC) awards the Synergy Grants. In the 2019 competition for these grants, 37 research groups will receive funding for their curiosity-driven science. Worth in total €363 million (about $400 million), these special grants will enable groups of two to four top researchers to bring together complementary skills, knowledge and resources in one research project. The recipients have chosen to tackle some of the most complex research problems, often spanning multiple scientific disciplines. This funding is part of the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.
Most of the selected proposals span traditional boundaries of disciplines. For example, one group will investigate relationships between climate and cities, and will include geographers, a physicist and a meteorologist. A cancer research project will involve leading experts in different strands of biology and genetics, as well as a paediatrician. Another example is a group aiming to develop a cleaner way to produce chemicals, which will gather researchers in chemistry, spectroscopy and material science.
The 37 projects involve 126 principal investigators who will carry out their projects at 95 universities and research centres in 20 countries across the European Research Area and beyond. Four of the projects will include one or more researchers from newer EU Member-States, namely Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech republic and Hungary. Eight research groups will include one principal investigator working in the United States (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California, Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard Medical School, Duke University, University of Delaware, Columbia University, and University of Wisconsin). The most common locations are Germany (involved in 20 projects), the UK (12) and France (11). Amongst the grantees, there are 24% women who will take part in 21 out of 37 projects.
The grants, each worth around 10 million euro, will help create some 1,000 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, and other staff in the grantees' research teams.
Future calls and deadlines
€350 million is available for the currently open Synergy Grant 2020 competition. If you are interested in applying for this round, then act soon – the deadline for applications is 5 November 2019. More information for applicants.