University of Bern: Proposals by two Bernese researchers receive positive evaluation for EU funding

Proposals by plant scientist Matthias Erb and astrophysicist Brice-Olivier Demory for the coveted “Consolidator Grants” with the European Research Council ERC have received positive evaluation. As they will carry out their research projects at the University of Bern, they will not be funded by the EU but by the State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation, SERI.

An ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) provides funding to outstanding researchers to establish or maintain a research team at a public or private research institution within the EU or an associated country. The grants, which are part of the EU research framework program “Horizon Europe”, are each endowed with approximately 2 million euros and awarded for a period of five years. Currently in the program, the European Commission (EC) treats Switzerland as a non-associated country. In principle, it is not possible for researchers from non-associated, non-EU countries to participate in European Commission projects. However, there was an exception made for the ERC Starting and Consolidator Grants in 2021. These grants were specially evaluated by the EC, as Switzerland was still classified by the EC as a “country to be associated” at the time of the deadline for applications. If the researchers decide to carry out their project at the institution in Switzerland where they are based, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI will provide funding instead of the EC.

Successful projects in plant science and space research
At the University of Bern, the CANWAS project of Prof. Dr. Matthias Erb from the Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) and the SenseLife project of Prof. Dr. Brice-Olivier Demory from the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) received successful reviews in the current call for applications. Both Matthias Erb and Brice-Olivier Demory have decided to stay in Switzerland and conduct their projects at the University of Bern.

“I am extremely pleased that these two top scientists have decided to stay at the University of Bern,” says Hugues Abriel, Vice Rector for Research at the University of Bern. “However, it worries me that Switzerland continues to be classified as a non-associated country by the European Commission, because research is dependent on networking and international cooperation.”

Also receiving positive evaluation is a grant proposal by particle physicist Pier Monni, who is employed at CERN. Two doctoral positions in his project will be based at the University of Bern if his project is carried out in Switzerland.

Comments are closed.