The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the first European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. The ERC also strives to attract top scientists from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. To date, the ERC has funded nearly 6,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers. On average, each ERC grant holder employs around six team members. An estimate shows that around 18% of these team members are nationals of countries outside Europe.
The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council, and, since January 2014, the ERC President is Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. The ERC has a budget of over €13 billion for years 2014 to 2020 and is part of the EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, for which European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas is responsible.
In order to increase its visibility overseas, in 2012, the ERC launched an international awareness-raising campaign, "ERC goes Global". With its new "ERC - Open to the World" slogan, the ERC wants to attract further attention to its funding opportunities in Europe for the brightest minds worldwide. This resonates with the ERC's mission and is also in line with one of the "three O's" launched by Commissioner Carlos Moedas; "Open to the World". To encourage global scientific exchange, the ERC already has agreements with renowned research funding agencies from outside Europe. They provide opportunities in Europe for early-career scientists supported, by these non-European funding agencies, to temporarily join research teams run by ERC grant holders. To date, funding agencies in the US, South Korea, Argentina, Japan, China, South Africa and Mexico have signed such agreements. Similar initiatives are currently under negotiation with various other countries.