The establishment of the European Research Council (ERC) in 2007 was an important step in strengthening basic research in Europe. As a bottom-up funding agency bound solely by the criterion of scientific excellence in its funding decisions, the ERC is similar in orientation to the FWF. The funding instruments developed by the ERC essentially aim to support large-scale research projects at the highest international level, thus covering a specific segment of research funding. The FWF regards the ERC's programmes as a complement to its own programmes or, where programmes are similar in orientation (e.g. the FWF's START Programme and the ERC's Starting Grants), as a welcome addition to the opportunities available to the Austrian scientific community. Past experience has shown that successful ERC grant applicants at Austrian research institutions who did not come to Austria through an ERC Grant have also generally received funding from the FWF. The FWF and ERC can therefore be regarded as links in a chain which work together to create the conditions necessary for outstanding research.

ERC Grants

One of the key innovations in the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme for research and technological development (2007 to 2013) was the establishment of the European Research Council (ERC). Under the guidance of its Scientific Council, which includes world-renowned figures from the field of research, the ERC is dedicated to funding competitive scientific research from the bottom up. The ERC's funding programmes are intended for individual research teams, and projects are selected solely on the basis of scientific merit. Proposals are evaluated by means of a peer review process. The European Commission has allocated a budget of EUR 11.9 billion for the ERC's activities.

The FWF welcomed the establishment of the ERC, especially as it reflects the increased importance attached to scientific research in Europe. With regard to the actual design of the ERC's funding programmes, the FWF emphasises the importance of delineating the tasks of the ERC and those of national funding agencies as clearly as possible on the basis of the subsidiarity principle.