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Netherlands awarded 44 starting grants, of which six go to UU

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The European Research Council (ERC) has allocated 400 starting grants averaging 1.5 million euros. Dutch institutions snatched 44 of those grants – an exceptionally good number. Three of the grants are going to Utrecht University, two are going to the Hubrecht Institute and one is going to UMC Utrecht.

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The ERC is similar to the Dutch Research Council (NWO), which funds research in the Netherlands. Researchers can submit proposals, then the committees make a selection and allocate the funds. The starting grants are meant for researchers who obtained their PhD no more than seven years ago.

Germany is way ahead in the country ranking, with 72 grants. Then come France, Great Britain and the Netherlands with 53, 46 and 44 grants, respectively. The fifth place is shared by Switzerland and Italy, with 28 grants each.

By no means all of the recipients in the Netherlands are Dutch. In fact, only 27 researchers with Dutch nationality have been awarded a starting grant. In the list of nationalities, the Netherlands comes in the fourth place, well behind the Germans (67), Italians (58) and French (44).

The lucky UU winners are social scientist Valentina di Stasio, biologist Edwin van Leeuwen, and the physical geographer Michelle van Vliet. Matilde Galli and Juan Garaycoechea, from the KNAW institute of developmental biology and stem cell research, were also awarded prizes. At UMC Utrecht, the winner is pediatrician-researcher Sabine Fuchs.

Missing out
Fewer than ten percent of the applicants obtained a grant. One of the most common criticisms this type of grant gets is that the application process is a waste of researchers' time and effort, as so many of them end up missing out.

Another problem is that the support base for European grants is eroded if the leading countries always get the funds and other countries are left out. It is reasonable to assume that researchers from other countries have just as much talent as researchers from the most successful countries.

That's why there ought to be more international cooperation, says Eveline Crone, Vice-President of the Dutch ERC, back in May 2021. Researchers from other European countries can then learn from their colleagues in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain and France.

The research conducted by the Utrecht-based winners (according to ERC's website): 

Valentina Di Stasio: What Makes People Targets: A Multi-Actor Study of How Ethnic Discrimination is Perceived, Tackled and Avoided

Sabine Fuchs: Prime editing to Repair Inherited Metabolic Errors: in vivo gene correction for human genetic disease

Matilde Galli: Timing cell cycles in multicellular development

Juan Garaycoechea: Mechanisms of proliferation-independent mutation

Edwin van Leeuwen: The evolutionary origins of human culture: a primatological perspective

Michelle van Vliet: Balancing clean Water and Energy provision under changing climate and eXtremes

How many grants each Dutch institution received

 

Leiden University

5

NWO

5

TU Delft

4

Tilburg University

4

Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

3

Groningen University

3

Twente University

3

Utrecht University

3

TU Eindhoven

2

Erasmus MC

2

Maastricht University

2

Radboud MC

2

KNAW

2

UvA Amsterdam

2

UMC Utrecht

1

Wageningen University

1

 

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