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Professor Melanie Klinkner receives European Research Council Consolidator Grant

A BU research project to develop a comprehensive human rights framework around mass graves has been awarded over £1.6 million from the European Research Council (ERC).

Mass Grave Protection, Investigation & Engagement: a comprehensive universal human rights framework – or MaGPIE – will be led by Professor Melanie Klinkner, Professor of International Law at BU.

Professor Melanie Klinkner

Professor Melanie Klinkner

Mass graves exist across the globe on a shocking scale, with thousands of victims and families seeking answers. However, currently there are no global records for mass graves – meaning the scale and nature of the problem is not well understood.

There is also no universal framework for protecting and investigating mass graves to safeguard sites and human remains, as well as the rights and interests of survivors.

The MaGPIE project will respond to this significant knowledge and policy gap and develop a comprehensive human rights framework to inform the protection, investigation and stakeholder engagement around mass graves.

Professor Klinkner said: “I am grateful and honoured to have been given this opportunity by the European Research Council. Mass graves, the focus of my research, are a very sensitive topic: for each body concealed in a mass grave, there is a family or community suffering from anguish and grief.

“This five-year research project will explore how dignified, rights-compliant engagement with mass graves can be progressed, asking what and how we can do better for affected families and survivors.”

This work builds on Professor Klinkner’s research into the protection and investigation of mass graves.

This includes projects to examine when mapping of mass graves should be avoided or kept secret so that protection is not jeopardised, exploring how states deal with missing persons cases, and the publication of the international standard-setting Bournemouth Protocol of Mass Grave Protection and Investigation. It also continues a long-standing collaboration with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

Professor Einar Thorsen, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Media & Communication at Bournemouth University, said: “Receiving this prestigious and highly competitive award from the European Research Council is an outstanding achievement and testament to the quality of research being undertaken by Professor Klinkner and the team at Bournemouth University.

“Protecting mass graves and the rights of victims and their loved ones is an issue of international importance and this funding reflects our commitment to addressing global challenges and enriching society across research, education and practice.”

The funding of 1.9 million Euros (approximately £1.6 million) to support the MaGPIE project has been given as an European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant.

Professor Klinkner is one of 321 researchers from 37 countries across Europe to receive the funding, chosen from 2,222 applications through a rigorous review process.

The funding – worth €657 million in total – is part of the EU’s Horizon Europe programme. It will help excellent scientists, who have 7 to 12 years’ experience after their PhDs, to pursue their most promising ideas. Only 31 British researchers, including Professor Klinkner, have been selected.

President of the European Research Council Prof. Maria Leptin said: “ERC Consolidator grants support researchers at a crucial time of their careers, strengthening their independence, reinforcing their teams and helping them establish themselves as leaders in their fields. And this backing above all gives them a chance to pursue their scientific dreams.”

Update on ERC Starting Grant 2019 call opening

European Research Council has announced that the adoption of the 2019 ERC Work Programme, originally planned for mid-July, is expected in mid-September. The 2019 Starting Grant call, which was expected to be opened in mid-July, will open upon Work Programme adoption. It means that the Starting Grant call will be open for a shorter time than usual, as the call closure date is expected to be 17 October 2018.

The annual Work Programme for the European Research Council is the legal document which sets out how the ERC will allocate its funding for the corresponding year. It is established by the Scientific Council of the ERC and subsequently adopted by the European Commission.

Although, the new Work Programme will be similar to the Work Programme 2018, the Scientific Council has decided on the introduction of some novelties. Main changes expected in the ERC Work Programme 2019 relate to the following:

– evaluation criteria of Frontier Research Grants;
– calculation adjustments for Starting and Consolidator Grants eligibility windows;
– Open Access.

You may find more information on anticipated changes in this document.

According to the UK Research Office whilst none of these changes can be confirmed definitively until the publication of the 2019 Work Programme, applicants are encouraged to begin their development of proposals on this basis and to utilise the support documents available for the Starting Grant 2018 call as an initial guide.

If you are interested in applying to any of ERC grants, please contact your RKEO Funding Development Officer or Research Facilitator – International Ainar Blaudums for further information and support regarding ERC and other international funding opportunities.

ERC News

We have received an update from the European Research Council, which highlights….

  • The current ERC Starting Grants call has now closed with results due in the summer of 2018.  The ERC Work Programme has earmarked €581 million for an estimated 391 Starting Grants in 2018.
  • Ideas, the ERC newsletter, autumn issue is now available, with a focus on serendipity in research.
  • An agreement has been concluded between the EU and India to encourage research visits of Indian top researchers in teams funded by the European Research Council (ERC) in Europe. In line with the ERC global approach, this is the tenth international initiative of this kind, which comes at a time when the ERC also marks its tenth anniversary.  The first initiative of this kind was signed in 2012 with the USA (National Science Foundation, NSF) and agreements then followed with prestigious funding bodies in South Korea, Argentina, Japan, China, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and Canada.

Open Calls

BU staff considering applying for any of these calls and other international funding, should contact Emily Cieciura, RKEO’s Research Facilitator: International Funding, for further information and support.

Will you be applying to the ERC in 2017?

ercAre you at the right stage in your career to apply for a European Research Council Grant?

The indicative deadline dates for 2017 are:

Consolidator Grant – 9th February 2017 (see recent press release for the results of the last round)

Advanced Grant –  31st August 2017 (call expected to open on 16th May 2017)

Proof of Concept Grant – 19th January 2017, 25th April 2017 and 5th September 2017

To find out more about these opportunties, which fund the best of the best researchers in Europe, please take a look at the ERC website and the  2017 ERC Work Programme.

The ERC is celebrating 10 years in 2017 – it has funded almost 7,000 researchers and thereby has supported more than 40,000 team members.

If you are considering applying, please contact Emily Cieciura, RKEO’s Research Facilitator; EU & International, to discuss your plans and arrange support.

European Research Council – Consolidator Grants

ercWhat are ERC Grants?

The ERC Work Programme 2017 sets out the objectives and principles of ERC funding. ERC Starting and Consolidator Principal Investigators must demonstrate the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their scientific proposal. ERC grants are open to researchers of any nationality, who intend to conduct their research activity in any EU Member State or Associated Country .

The ERC’s frontier research grants operate on a ‘bottom-up’ basis without predetermined priorities. Applications can be made in any field of research with particular emphasis on the frontiers of science, scholarship and engineering6 . In particular, proposals of an interdisciplinary nature, which cross the boundaries between different fields of research, pioneering proposals addressing new and emerging fields of research or proposals introducing unconventional, innovative approaches and scientific inventions are encouraged.

The next call for the Consolidator Grant closes on 9th February 2017. Consolidator Grants can be up to a maximum of EUR 2,000,000 for a period of 5 years (pro rata for projects of shorter duration).

Are you at this stage?

  • Have you been awarded your first PhD > 7 and ≤ 12 years prior to 1 January 2017 – cut-off dates: PhD awarded from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2009 (inclusive)?
  • Can you demonstrate research excellence?
  • Are you starting or consolidating your own independent research team or programme?
  • Do you have several important publications as main author or without the participation of your PhD supervisor?

The ERC guidance for Starting and Consolidator grants guidance has recently been updated.

What next?

If you are considering applying to this scheme, please contact Emily Cieciura, RKEO’s Research Facilitator: EU & International, as soon as possible.


UK Research Office training opportunties

UKRO logoUKRO hold provides regular training events in their capacity as the UK National Contact Point for the European Research Council (ERC) and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions​ (MSCA).

Forthcoming events:

26th October 2016: ERC Consolidator Grants Information and Proposal Writing Event to be held at the University of Glasgow

Are you a researcher interested in applying for the 2017 ERC Consolidator Grants call?

The session is aimed at researchers based in, or moving to, the UK who are planning to submit a proposal to the ERC Consolidator Grants call. The 2017 Consolidator Grants call is expected to open on 20 October 2016 and close on 9 February 2017. Applicants are expected to be active researchers and to have a track record of excellent research. The scheme is designed to support Principal Investigators (PIs) at the stage at which they may still be consolidating their own independent research team or programme. To be eligible for the 2017 call, the PI must be 7-12 years from the date of award of their PhD on 1 January 2017, which is extendable in certain strict cases.

Another repeating event is being planned for a London location in November 2016.


12th October 2016: MSCA Innovative Training Networks (ITN) to be held at the University of West London

The ITN scheme supports joint research training and/or doctoral programmes, implemented by European partnerships of universities, research institutions, industry (incl. SMEs) and other non-academic organisations. The research training programmes are intended to provide doctoral students with excellent research skills, coupled with experience outside academia, hence developing their innovation capacities and employability prospects. The event aim to provide participants with an in-depth overview of the ITN scheme. Participants should gain a clear understanding of the proposal format for each scheme and the key issues relating to planning, writing and submitting proposals. There will also be ample opportunity to ask questions. Attendance will be free of charge, thanks to the support from the University of West London.

To attend staff should register, via BU’s subscription, on the UKRO website. Please ensure that you have approval within your Faculty to attend. You should also register with UKRO so that you receive announcements concerning EU funding direct to your own inbox – make sure that you hear first!

If you are considering applying, please contact Emily Cieciura, REKO’s Research Facilitator: EU & International, in the first instance.

UKRO – ERC Starting Grant Information and Proposal Writing Events

UKRO logo​​​In its capacity as UK National Contact Point for the European Research Council (ERC), the UK Research Office, in partnership with the hosting institutions, is holding two events for researchers who are interested in applying for the next ERC Starting Grants call. The events are scheduled as follows:

University of York, Monday 5 September 2016, 13:30 – 17:00

King’s College London​, Tuesday 6 September 2016, 10:00 – 13:00

​​The scheme is designed to support Principal Investigators (PIs) at the stage at which they are starting their own independent research team or programme. To be eligible for the 2017 call, the PI must have been awarded their PhD between two and seven years prior to 1 January 2017 (extendable in certain strict cases).

The next ERC Starting Grant call is not yet available on the Participant Portal but please refer to the ERC website for all information about this and other ERC calls.

BU staff can also register, via BU subscription, on the UKRO website to receive announcements concerning EU funding direct to your own inbox – make sure that you hear first!

If you are considering applying, please contact Emily Cieciura, REKO’s Research Facilitator: EU & International, in the first instance.

ERC Deadlines

ercThe deadlines for the European Research Council calls are quickly approaching.

Please contact Emily Cieciura, RKEO’s Research Facilitator: EU and International if you intent to apply for:

Why not sign up for ERC email alerts so that you keep up to date with ERC news and events?


European Research Council- Starting Grant and Consolidator Grant figures

ercHave you thought about applying to the European Research Council (ERC) for funding?  Although the funding calls are not yet open, it may be worth starting on your proposal now as calls are published every year.

Starting Grants: For 2015, a combined total of €429 million was given to 291 early-career researchers, with the greatest number (48) being awarded the UK and an overall success rate of 12%. For 2016, the ERC received 2935 applications (an increase of (+0.5%).  The highest number of applications were from Physical Sciences and Engineering (1299), followed by Life Sciences (854, a decrease of -3%), and Social Science and Humanities (782, an increase of +3%).

Starting Grants are for researchers who have 2-7 years of experience since the completion of a PhD and a track record of excellence, you may be eligible for up to €1.5 million for projects lasting up to five years.

Consolidator Grant: For 2015, the ERC gave a combined €585 million to 302 successful applicants for an overall sucess rate of 15%.  For 2016, the number of applicants increase by 12% from the previous call with the highest number of applications was submitted from Physical Sciences and Engineering (1075), followed by Life Sciences (713), and Social Science and Humanities (516).

The Consolidator Grant is a fund with up to €2 million available for researchers with 7-12 years of experience since the completion of a PhD who also have a demonstrable record showing scientific talent and excellence.

As part of the first phase of a two phase application process, evaluators will first judge the synopsis and CV of the applicant to see if the work is ground-breaking in nature, ambitious and feasible.  The evaluators will also judge the track record of the applicant to see if they have the proven intellectual capacity (through publication), creativity (novelty) and commitment (through a track record of managing previous projects).

If you are interested in applying to these funds, please contact Emily Cieciura, the Research Facilitator for EU & International funding or your relevant faculty Funding Development Officer.

European News (w/c 14/9/15)

Every week I receive an email from UKRO updating me on the EU-related activities including funding calls, info days, tenders and other news which helps keep me up to date with the EU. As this blog can be accessed externally, we cannot give you all the information that they email, but you can get the full subscriber experience by registering at the UKRO website.UKRO logo

Highlights from the most recent email are:

  • UKRO ITN (Innovative Training Network) event on 7/10/15 – please see the previous blog post about this event
  • ERC Consolidator Grant Information sessions – see University of Sheffield on 3/11/15 and  London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on 6/11/15 to register
  • Info Week for Societal Challenge 2 (Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, maritime and maritime inland water research and bio-economy) runs from 24/11/2015 to 27/11/2015
  • Experts are required for EC non-food Scientific Committees in the topic areas of Consumer Safety  and Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks – deadline 2/11/15
  • Did you miss the H2020 Co-ordinators’ Day on 8/9/15? You can see videos of the presentations to find out more about H2020 project management
  • The draft Work Programmes are being made available. Please note that they are still under review and should not be assumed to be finalised
  • EU and China have launched a new Co-Funding Mechanism for research and innovation

If you are looking for specific funding, please make use of BU’s subscription to ResearchProfessional or search on the Participant Portal. For tenders, please use TED – Tenders Electronic Daily.

Also being discussed on planet EU:

  • ResearchProfessional are reporting on changes to demand management within Horizon 2020 (log-in to our institutional account to read more)
  • There are concerns about a move to an increased emphasis on applied research and product development within the H2020 Societal Challenges Pillar, according to a freely available article from ResearchResearch.Research-Professional-logo

If you would like further assistance in developing your EU knowledge and engagement, please contact Emily Cieciura, Research Facilitator: EU & International


EU Radar – Excellent Science

The following calls have been announced on the Participant Portal, within the Excellent Science pillar of Horizon 2020:

ERC Advanced Grant – this call is open and closes on 2/6/15 at 17:00 (Brussels local time)

Advanced Grants are designed to support excellent Principal Investigators at the career stage at which they are already established research leaders with a recognised track record of research achievements. Applicant Principal Investigators must demonstrate the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their scientific proposal.

MSCA Individual Fellowship – this call is open with a deadline of 10/9/15 at 17:00 (Brussels local time)

The goal of Individual Fellowships is to enhance the creative and innovative potential of experienced researchers. Please see information about BU’s workshop and external training provided by UKRO

Future and Emerging Technologies (FET)

FET-Open – novel ideas for radically new technologies (Research & Innovation Action)  – this call is open with a closing date of 29/9/15 at 17:00 (Brussels local time)

Supporting a large set of early stage, high risk visionary science and technology collaborative research projects is necessary for the successful exploration of new foundations for radically new future technologies. Nurturing fragile ideas requires an agile, risk-friendly and highly interdisciplinary research approach, expanding well beyond the strictly technological disciplines. Recognising and stimulating the driving role of new high-potential actors in research and innovation, such as women, young researchers and high-tech SMEs, is also important for nurturing the scientific and industrial leaders of the future.

FET-Open – novel ideas for radically new technologies (FET Take-Up Coordination and Support Activities) – this call is open with a closing date of 29/9/15 at 17:00 (Brussels local time)

The challenge is to make Europe the best place in the world for collaborative research on future and emerging technologies that will renew the basis for future European competitiveness and growth, and that will make a difference for society in the decades to come, by actions for stimulating take-up of FET research results towards impact and innovation, in ways that are complementary to and beyond the capacity of single research projects. Examples include outreach to investors and entrepreneurs, use of unconventional channels (like NGOs or artists), or targeting of new audiences and purposes (e.g. for social innovation, global development or peace).

FET-Open – novel ideas for radically new technologies (FET Exchange Coordination and Support Activities)

The challenge is to make Europe the best place in the world for collaborative research on future and emerging technologies that will renew the basis for future European competitiveness and growth, and that will make a difference for society in the decades to come. Applicants should address structuring an emerging FET-relevant topic and the interdisciplinary communities around it. This shall include research roadmapping, stimulating learning and exchange (possibly with related initiatives worldwide) involving the appropriate range of disciplines and actors such as young researchers and high-tech SMEs, and broader stakeholder engagement.

ERC Proof of Concept – this call is open with two forthcoming deadlines – Intermediate deadline: 28/5/15 and Final deadline: 1/10/15, both due at at 17:00 (Brussels local time)

Frontier research often generates unexpected or new opportunities for commercial or societal application. The ERC Proof of Concept Grants aim to maximise the value of the excellent research that the ERC funds, by funding further work (i.e. activities which were not scheduled to be funded by the original ERC frontier research grant) to verify the innovation potential of ideas arising from ERC funded projects. Proof of Concept Grants are therefore on offer only to Principal Investigators whose proposals draw substantially on their ERC funded research.

COFUND Doctoral Programme – the call will open on 14/4/15 and has a deadline of 01/10/ 2015 at 17:00 (Brussels local time)

Doctoral programmes address the development and broadening of the research competencies of early-stage researchers. The training follows the EU Principles on Innovative Doctoral Training (http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/pdf/research_policies/Principles_for_Innovative_Doctoral_Training.pdf). Collaboration with a wider set of partners, including from the non-academic sector, which may provide hosting or secondment opportunities or training in research or transferable skills, as well as innovative elements of the proposed programme, will be positively taken into account during the evaluations. Each researcher must be enrolled in a doctoral programme. Attention is paid to the quality of supervision and mentoring arrangements as well as career guidance.

COFUND Fellowship Programme – the call will open on 14/4/15 and has a deadline of 01/10/ 2015 at 17:00 (Brussels local time)

Proposed fellowship programmes are encouraged to cover all research disciplines (“bottom-up”), but can also focus on specific disciplines. In this case the range of covered disciplines should allow reasonable flexibility for the researchers. Programmes that prioritise specific research disciplines based on national or regional Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3 strategies) will also be supported.

For further information on EU and International funding calls, please contact Paul Lynch or Emily Cieciura in the RKEO Funding Development Team

What is the ERC?

I tend not to blog too much about the European Research Council (ERC) grants within FP7 as they are so competitive and not really applicable for the overwhelming majority of researchers throughout the world, bit as I’m giving an update on Horizon 2020 and because the ERC budget is expected to go up massively, it seems important to cover it. The ERC is designed for the crème de la crème of the world’s researchers. This scheme has a budget of €7.5 billion which is used to fund frontier research projects, focusing in excellence and takes a bottom up approach. The scheme is open to researchers from anywhere in the world and they don’t have to have any partners or can have a whole team. There are 4 types of grant under the ERC:

1. Starting Grants: for researchers 2-7 years post-PhD looking for up to €2m funding for a maximum of 5 years

2. Advanced Grants: for researchers with a ‘significant track record’ of research achievements over a 10 year period looking for up to €3.5m over a maximum of 5 years

3. Synergy Grants: for 2-4 Principal Investigators looking for up to €15m for a maximum of 6 years

4. Proof-of-Concept: for ERC grant holders looking to bridge the gap between research and the earliest stage of marketable innovation, up to €150k

The budgets are high for individual projects and the topic flexible so on paper seems like a great scheme.  Indeed more than 2, 600 Principal Investigators based in 480 Host Institutions in 26 countries have received funds under this scheme since 2007. And the UK is in the top 5 in terms of success rates and we are the country where  the majority of ERC is hosted; with Cambridge and Oxford as the top 2 host institutions in the whole programme.

However the scheme is super competitive; it has an average 12% success rate. All schemes have reduced in their success rates over the last 2 years. It is also biased towards certain institutions, with 50% of Principal Investigators being based in just 50 institutions. And lastly, it is mostly geared towards the physical sciences, life sciences and engineering as it funds ‘risky’ research and is looking for competitiveness which social sciences and humanities often can’t offer.

So overall, despite the fact that for Horizon 2020 the budget will increase (as will the number of applications) unless you are one of the best researchers in the world (and can prove it), working in a uni popular with the ERC and if you have a truly blue skies research project based in the hard sciences and don’t mind a low success rate  then this scheme isn’t for you. If you do match this description then you will be pleased to hear there are no major reshaping plans for the scheme under Horizon 2020, just a recognition that the scientific governance of the scheme needs to be strengthened and links between this and other schemes also strengthened.