Career News

Two AcademiaNet members backed to bring research findings to the market

11. 10. 2018 | In a second round, the European Research Council has awarded top-up funding to fifty ERC grant holders via its Proof of Concept Grants, to explore the commercial or societal potential of their ERC-funded frontier research results. The grants are part of the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.
European Research Council
Bild vergrößern
(© European Research Council)

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. Dr. Manuela Teresa Raimondi
Bild vergrößern
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. Aleksandra Walczak
Bild vergrößern
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)

More information


  1. Read what our members say about AcademiaNet.

No more excuses!

  1. Please download the brochure "No more excuses" and read more about female experts in Europe, and about AcademiaNet.


  1. Four AcademiaNet members among Royal Society Fellows and Foreign Members elected this year

    The accolade has been called the scientist equivalent of the lifetime achievement Oscar.

  2. “It’s a social norm that keeps girls out of science”

    Only about one third of students in STEM subjects are female. We spoke with Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon who founded STEMettes to help young girls and women engage with STEM subjects. She is a strong supporter of young girls and women and a role model for many aspiring to have a career in science.

  3. Tiina Sikanen granted the Academy of Finland Award for Scientific Courage

    The pharmaceutical chemist was chosen for her multidisciplinary work on microchip biotechnology.

  4. Women are simply less visible

    Why are so few women awarded a Nobel Prize? The reasons are manifold and hinder female researchers at all stages of their careers. Countermeasures are only slowly taking effect.

  5. Anja Groth awarded Queen Margrethe II’s Prize for Science

    The professor of chromatin biology will receive 100,000 DKK (13,500 €) for her work on epigenetics.