The European Research Council (ERC) has announced 90 new Proof of Concept Grants, concluding the final round of the 2022 competition. This brings the total number of grantees who received this innovation top-up funding, in two separate calls under the ERC last year’s work programme, up to 366.

The grants – each worth 150.000 euro – help researchers to bridge the gap between the discoveries stemming from their frontier research and the practical application of the findings, including early phases of their commercialisation. The funding is part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe.

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: The ERC Proof of Concept Grants aim to enable innovations, stemming from EU investments in frontier research, reach society and the market faster. We are supporting big ideas turn into true innovation and building a system whereby innovation develops into valuable products and services for citizens”.

President of the European Research Council Prof. Maria Leptin said: “These Proof of Concept grants are set to help ERC grantees take results from their curiosity-led research towards market. We need to keep investing in such research: it truly feeds commercial or social innovation. Europe needs more of it!”

Researchers use this type of funding to verify the practical viability of scientific concepts, explore business opportunities or prepare patent applications. The recent rounds of funding will support researchers working in a wide range of disciplines.

For example, a media economist in Spain plans to build a web browser extension to help raise people’s trust in quality news media; an astrophysicist in Germany is set to develop a better way to predict solar flares and other dangerous Sun activity; a biologist in Czechia proposes to put in practice a cheaper and more effective method to produce cancer-killing cells for immunotherapy.

The ERC’s 2022 work programme included two calls for proposals for Proof of Concept grants with the total budget of €55 million to make up for that there was no such funding in 2021 due to transition to the new Horizon Europe programme. The largest share of the Proof of Concept projects in these two calls went to researchers in Netherlands, Israel, France, Spain, Germany and Italy.  The largest number of project originate from the research in Physical Sciences and Engineering, followed by Life Sciences. More detailed statistics will be available when all grant agreements have been signed.

The Proof of Concept grant scheme is open only to researchers who are or have previously been awarded ERC frontier research grants). These top-up grants help to explore the commercial or societal potential of the findings researchers made through their ERC projects. The objective is to enable ERC-funded ideas to progress on the path from ground-breaking research towards innovation. Recently, a new study concluded that more than 40% of the projects funded by the ERC generated findings that were subsequently cited in patents.

Source: European Research Council I News (