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The European Research Council (ERC) – the first European funding body for frontier research, created by the European Union in 2007 – has two new Vice Presidents. The Scientific Council (the body responsible for the scientific strategy of the ERC) recently elected Professors Carl-Henrik Heldin and Pavel Exner as the new ERC Vice Presidents. Carl-Henrik Heldin, from Sweden, is the Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Uppsala, and a professor at Uppsala University, while Pavel Exner comes from Czech Republic, where he is the scientific director and professor at the Doppler Institute for Mathematical Physics and Applied Mathematics, in Prague. They are both among the founders of the ERC Scientific Council. The two are succeeding Professor Helga Nowotny, who moved to the position of ERC President in March 2010, and Dr. Daniel Estève, whose term as Vice President just expired. Their mandate will run until December 2013, i.e. until the end of the 7th Framework Programme for Research.
At the end of March, ERC also launched a new funding mechanism, designed to support the Innovation Union flagship initiative by facilitating the transfer of frontier research results to the market. The Proof of Concept initiative is open to ERC grant holders. It aims to support them in developing a ‘package’ of their research ideas and results for presentation to companies that might be interested in investing in these new discoveries, and generally to support these researchers in the early commercialisation phase. Up to EUR 150 000 are available per grant and can be used for activities such as technical validation, market research, clarifying intellectual property right position and strategy, or investigating commercial and business opportunities. The call has a total budget of EUR 10 million, with two application deadlines – one in June and one in November this year.