Seven of them going to Utrecht

Netherlands awarded 36 Consolidator Grants by European Research Council

charissa de bekker en zombiemieren
Charissa de Bekker is one of the Utrecht researchers who received an ERC grant. She conducts research into zombie ants. Photo: Mastodon

More than 2,100 scientists competed for the Consolidator Grants, which the ERC awards to experienced researchers. In the end, only 308 applications were approved: that’s 14.5 percent, or one in seven.

Winning 66 grants in total, Germany tops this year’s ranking far ahead of the rest of the field, but there’s less daylight between the UK (43 grants) and the Netherlands (36). France comes in at number four, with 23 grants. In total, the ERC is distributing 627 million euros in funding. 

Last year, the Netherlands managed to secure only 20 scholarships and had to settle for seventh place. In the years before that, the country consistently came in fourth. Meer dan 2.100 onderzoekers deden een gooi naar de beurzen die de ERC onder ervaren onderzoekers verdeelt. Slechts 308 zijn er uitgekozen: dat is 14,5 procent, oftewel één op de zeven.

The winners from Utrecht
The Utrecht-based researchers who were awarded a grant to carry out their research are Chaissa de Bekker, from the Faculty of Science; Susanne Knittel and Ozan Ozavci from the Faculty of Humanities; Flor Avelino from Geosciences; Jeroen de Ridder, Hugo Snippert and Pieter Vader from UMCU. UU's website has a description of their lines of research. 

Larger grants
The ERC is also awarding Starting Grants of up to 1.5 million euros and Advanced Grants of 2.5 million euros. These amounts are higher than comparable grants from the Dutch Research Council’s Talent Programme. After a recent increase, Veni and Vidi grants can now go up to 320,000 and 850,000 euros respectively, while the Vici grant has been raised to 1.5 million euros.

The success rate for grant applications is low, both in Europe and the Netherlands. In some cases, research proposals that meet the requirements for approval are rejected due to budget constraints. Critics say the competition for grants contributes to the high workload in science.

Scientists sometimes hedge their bets by submitting their research proposals to both the ERC and the Dutch Research Council. Last year, the Council’s president, Marcel Levi, suggested that recipients should give back their Dutch grant if they also receive European funding shortly after. “That would show solidarity with researchers who have missed out on a grant. In any event, we want to get that debate going.”

2023 Consolidator Grants  
University of Amsterdam 6
Utrecht University 4
KNAW institutes 4
University Medical Centre Utrecht 3
Twente University 3
TU Eindhoven 3
Radboud University 2
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 2
Leiden University 2
Groningen University 2
TU Delft 1
Wageningen University 1
Maastricht University 1
Erasmus University Medical Centre 1
NWO Institutes 1
Total 36