European Research Council
Proof of Concept (PoC) grants, worth a maximum of € 150,000 each, can be used for example to explore business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts. A recent review shows the funding has also helped ERC-funded scientists set up new companies and attract capital to make their research marketable. The grant scheme is only open to ERC grantees. The recent announcement concerns the second 2018 round, in which the ERC evaluated 130 applications. The budget for the whole 2018 competition is €20 million. Among the recipients are two AcademiaNet members:
Prof. Dr. Manuela Teresa Raimondi
Prof Raimondi received the grant for her research into a »Miniaturised optically accessible bioreactor for drug discovery and biological research«. She is a full professor at Bioengineering at the Politechnic University of Milan, leading the group of Mechanobiology. She is the founder and head of the “Mechanobiology Lab” and of the »Live Cell Imaging Lab«. Her research focuses on investigating how cells interact physically with their environment, and on the effect of such interaction on their biological response. She integrates multiphysics and multiscale computational modelling with advanced cell culture techniques, such as synthetic stem cell niches and micromechanical bioreactors, aiming to further our understanding of basic stem cell mechanobiology.
Dr. Aleksandra Walczak
Dr Walczak received the grant for her research on »Automated evaluation and correction of generation bias in immune receptor repertoires«. Currently based at the École Normale Supérieure as a CNRS researcher, the biophysicist studies the effects of selection on population genealogies, collective behaviour of bird flocks and statistical descriptions of the immune system. Dr Walczak was awarded the “Grand Prix Jacques Herbrand de l’Académie des sciences" in 2014 and the bronze medal of CNRS in 2016. Her ERC project 'RECOGNIZE' focuses on the self-organization of the immune repertoire at the molecular and evolutionary level, by using a combination of data analysis and statistical mechanics modelling. Dr Walczak aims to shed light on the diversity and complexity of immune receptors on the surfaces of B and T cells, which interact with pathogens, recognize them and initiate an immune response.
Commissioner Carlos Moedas said: »The grants awarded (…) show how we can transform top science into practical innovations that will benefit everyone. Investing in research and innovation means we're investing in EU's future. That's why we've proposed to switch our ambition to even higher gear in creating Horizon Europe, EU's next research and innovation programme, boosting its funding up to an unprecedented EUR 100 billion and completing the European Innovation Council.«
The President of the ERC, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, said: »Frontier science above all generates new knowledge. One should never forget that scientific pursuit can also trigger new innovation and business ideas. ERC Proof of Concept grants help these ideas to develop. I'm glad to see that so many of our grantees from such diverse disciplines are eager to test if their research findings could be brought to market or benefit society in other ways.»
(© AcademiaNet / ERC)