Friday, 4 February 2011

New ERC 'Proof of Concept' Grant

UKRO have found out more about the new ERC 'Proof of Concept' (PoC) scheme. As many of you will know, the ERC currently runs two schemes: the Starting Grant and the Advanced Grant. The PoC will be a third string to their bow. It was mooted in October, and is intended to provide translational funding to speed outcomes of research on to the market place. The PoC will only be available for those who already have an ERC award, although it doesn't have to be on exactly the same subject. UKRO gives this example: the PoC grant could be looking at commercialising discoveries made during an ERC grant such as a marker for cancer, even if the orginal grant was not about cancer, but the researchers happened to find a cancer marker when researching something else. The outcome of a PoC grant will be a package that can then be presented to venture capitalists.

UKRO believe that the first call could be launched on 15 March 2011, with closing dates on 15 June and 8 November 2011. The budget for the calls is expected to be €10m overall. This will be split between the two deadlines. However, if they're inundated at the first deadline they may cancel the November round. The intention is that applicants will be able to resubmit to future rounds.

From this pot roughly 66 projects may be funded (each project being worth up to €150k). There are currently about 1,600 ERC grant holders who may apply, but many of these grants are in the early stages, so it is hard to estimate how many proposals will be received.

UKRO believe the proposal format will be:
  • a 7 page application long, with additional attachments such as 'letters of support', which will include the following sections:
  • A short description of the idea and its relation to the previous ERC grant (although this is not specifically judged during peer review, it is still likely to be checked by the ERC Executive Agency staff);
  • Outline an early-stage innovation strategy for the idea;
  • Outline a reasonable and plausible plan of the activities; and
  • Budget: list of requested resources and proper justification.
UKRO go on to give more info on the assessment criteria and the peer review process. To find out more, go to the UKRO site, which is restricted to subscribers (of which the University of Kent is one).

Do note, however, that this is early information, and details could well change, so treat with caution.

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