The European Research Council (ERC) has a mission to cultivate a sense of adventure. The best scholars are natural risk takers. They play with ideas, ask questions and don't always know where they are going. The ERC is seeking excellent researchers who are driven by that endless curiosity and can up with brilliant intuitions and ideas.
The ERC wants to encourage the highest quality research in Europe trough competitive funding and to support investigator-initiated frontier research across all fields of research, on the basis of scientific excellence through a bottom-up, individual-based, pan-European competition.
Being "investigator-driven", or "bottom-up", in nature, the ERC approach allows researchers to identify new opportunities and directions in any field of research, rather than being led by priorities set by politicians. This approach ensures that funds are channelled into new and promising areas of research with a greater degree of flexibility.
Founded in 2007, the ERC works hard to incubate top level research that might help transform tomorrow's world. After 5 years of existing, it can be said that the ERC is a success story with more that 2600 funded proposals in more than 480 different host institutions in 26 different countries. Given that it is highly competitive, the success rate is of 12%, because "excellence attracts excellence".
It is composed of an Executive Agency and a Scientific Council. The latter sets the ERC scientific strategy and consists of 22 top scientists and scholars. The ERC is led by President Prof. Helga Nowotny and the Scientific Council is represented in Brussels by Secretary General Prof. Donald Dingwell. The ERC Executive Agency implements the "Ideas" Specific Programme and is lead by Director (ad int.) Pablo Amor.
Individual applicants from outside Europe are also welcome. The ERC is looking for the best people, EU national or not, to work in Europe. The ERC is a first pan-European organization with an average of €1 billion a year on grants. Its budget for the period 2007-2013 is €7.5 billion, which is €1.1 billion per year. ERC grant holders can work a significant amount of time per year outside Europe, which opens the possibly to maintain an affiliation with their countries of origin if wished. Since 2007, six researchers of South American origin have been awarded ERC grants (four Argentines, one Brazilian and one Venezuelan).
Starting with 2012, the ERC begins campaign that aims global awareness of the ERC funding opportunities and attracts top research talent to Europe. The global campaign targets over 15 countries and runs until 2014. It was launched in Canada in February this year and the ERC Secretary General has since also visited South Africa.
The Secretary General of the ERC, Prof. Donald Dingwell, visited Latin America from 23 to 28 May 2012, as part of the awareness raising campaign "ERC goes Global". He met key representatives and researchers from various research institutions in Brazil (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília) and Chile (Santiago de Chile), with a view to foster relations and to encourage more top talent to apply for ERC funding.
"South America is a dynamic region for addressing the fortunes of top researchers. This is a good match to the ERC…South Americans understand mobility", Prof. Dingwell said.
In Brazil, his visit was focused at São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília. In São Paulo, he met with representatives of FAPESP, and public and private Universities of the state of São Paulo (USP, UNIVERSIA, MACKENZIE, UNICAMP, UNESP), as well as with the Brazilian Agency for Financing of the Research. In Rio de Janeiro, Prof. Dingwell met with representatives of Centre for Research of Petrobrás (CENPES), the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) and the Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute for Graduate Studies and Research in Engineering (COPPE). In Brasília, the round table with representatives of Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), Ministry of Education (MEC), Coordination for Improvement of Highly Educated Personnel (CAPES) and National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPQ) was a part of the visit, as well as the meeting with S&T Counsellor from the EU Delegation to Brazil.