A new deal between Canada and the European Union was concluded to encourage talented Canadian researchers to join European Research Council (ERC) teams in Europe. Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas and President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Dr Ted Hewitt signed the agreement at an event in Brussels, with ERC President Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon as host. Also in attendance was the President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Dr B. Mario Pinto.
On the occasion of the signing, Commissioner Moedas commented: “With this initiative we say again, loud and clear, that European science is open to the world. Bright minds from Canada will join European Research Council research teams across Europe, which in turn will gain from this influx of talent. They will perform cutting-edge science together, which is a win-win for Europe and Canada. Global science cooperation is essential to push top research further.”
ERC President Bourguignon also welcomed the initiative: “I am both pleased and proud that this new agreement with Canada has been kicked off to foster cooperation between top Canadian and European scientists. The agreement comes just weeks after a similar deal was signed with Brazil and with other countries in the pipeline. Top research is a truly global endeavour and one that resonates with the European Research Council’s mission and international mind-set. It is also about making Europe more attractive to bright minds. Knowledge exchange of the highest level provides an excellent basis for scientific progress.”
President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Dr Ted Hewitt said: “Both Canada and the EU recognize that science and innovation are key to defining the parameters of a better, healthier and more prosperous planet, and that collaboration between our researchers is essential to our mutual long-term economic growth and prosperity.”
This year marks twenty years of Science and Technology cooperation and forty years of diplomatic relations between the European Union and Canada.
Set up by the European Union in 2007, the European Research Council (ERC) is the first European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it funds the very best, creative researchers to run five-year-projects across the European Research Area (ERA)1 . To date, the ERC has funded over 6,500 individual researchers at various stages of their careers.
With grants open to talent of any nationality, the ERC strives to attract more top researchers as grantees from around the world. So far, some 60 Canadian researchers were awarded ERC grants. It also encourages more non-European scientists to join teams, led by ERC grantees. On average, grantees employ around six team members as part of their ERC projects. An estimate shows that some 18% of these team members are non-European nationals. The agreement with Canada (so called ‘implementing arrangement’) is an example of these efforts and resonates with the overall “ERC – Open to the World” strategy.
The agreement signed encourages Canadian researchers to undertake research visits in Europe, temporarily becoming part of an ERC-funded team in Europe. It will thus enhance cooperation between Canadian and European scientists. (There are no costs involved for the ERC/European Union.)
The first initiative of this kind was signed in 2012 with the USA (National Science Foundation, NSF) and agreements then followed with the prestigious funding bodies in Korea, Argentina, Japan, China, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil.
In line with its ambition to widen participation in its competitions, the ERC also encourages talent from around Europe to apply for grants. The latest initiative in this direction are the fellowship programmes, set up by a number of countries, to allow ERC applicants to visit research teams of current ERC grantees.
The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council, and, since January 2014, the ERC President is Prof. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. The ERC has a budget of over €13 billion and is part of the EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, for which European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas is responsible.