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Ten ERC Starting Grants to Norway

Ten young researchers at Norwegian institutions have won Starting Grants from the European Research Council (ERC). This is the highest number of grants Norway has ever won in a single funding round.

“This is an excellent result,” says Per Magnus Kommandantvold, one of the Research Council’s National Contact Points (NCP) for the ERC. Last year, seven Norwegian applicants received Starting Grants.

“The number of applicants from Norway is on the rise as well. We are very pleased about that, since we believe that many more of our early-career scientists have a strong enough scientific track record and good enough project ideas to obtain ERC funding. But there is keen competition for ERC grants. Only 13 per cent of applicants receive funding, which is why it is so meaningful that this many candidates from the Norwegian pool of applicants have been successful in this round.”  

Mr Kommandantvold points out that the submission deadline for the next round of Starting Grants, planned to be October 17, is fast approaching, although the funding announcement has not yet been published. Consult the ERC website for updates.

ERC grant recipients set Norway’s record for number of wins: Upper row, from left: Krishna Agarwal, Johannes Hov, Siri Leknes, Aike Peter Rots and Elana Wilson Rowe. Lower row, from left: Heidi Østbø Haugen, Randi Bertelsen, Paolo Giovanni Piacquadio, Scott Bremer and Lars Tjelta Westlye. (Photo: UiO - UiB - UiT - NUPI)

Vital support from institutions

“One reason for this recent success,” continues Mr Kommandantvold, “may be that the institutions themselves are taking more active steps to encourage young, talented researchers to apply, and are introducing targeted efforts to promote up-and-coming scientists and support them through the entire application process. Given the tough level of competition among researchers from all of Europe, the way institutions organise and help out during the application process, providing interview coaching and other support, can be the deciding factor between winning and not winning ERC funding for Norwegian applicants.”

Over EUR 600 million allocated

A total of 3 170 applicants competed for Starting Grants in this funding round, with 403 applications awarded funding. EUR 603 million was allocated, with a maximum EUR 1.5 million to each grant recipient. Close to 40 per cent of the grant winners are women. Among the Norwegian winners, half are women and half are men.

The grants are allocated within three scientific domains: Social sciences and Humanities (SH), Life sciences (LS) and Physical and Engineering Sciences (PE). Seven of the new Norwegian grants are in the SH domain, two are in LS and one in PE.

Of the ten Norwegian awardees, six work at the University of Oslo (UiO), two at the University of Bergen (UiB), one at The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) and one at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). They have been given Starting Grants are for the following projects:

  • Heidi Østbø Haugen, UiO: Brokering China’s Extraversion: An Ethnographic Analysis of Transnational Arbitration (Social sciences and Humanities)
  • Johannes Hov, UiO: Recurrent disease in the liver transplant: window to identify and stop gut signals driving autoimmunity (Life sciences)
  • Siri Leknes, UiO: How distress alters opioid drug effects and abuse liability (Social sciences and Humanities)
  • Paolo Giovanni Piacquadio, UiO: Value Judgments and Redistribution Policies (Social sciences and Humanities)
  • Aike Peter Rots, UiO: Whales of Power: Aquatic Mammals, Devotional Practices, and Environmental Change in Maritime East Asia (Social sciences and Humanities)
  • Lars T. Westlye, UiO: Brains and minds in transition: The dark side of neuroplasticity during sensitive life phases (Social sciences and Humanities)
  • Randi Bertelsen, UiB: Oral bacteria as determinants for respiratory health (Life sciences)
  • Scott Bremer, UiB: Co-production of seasonal representations for adaptive institutions (Social sciences and Humanities)
  • Krishna Agarwal, UiT: Label-free 3D morphological nanoscopy for studying sub-cellular dynamics in live cancer cells with high spatio-temporal resolution (Physical and Engineering Sciences)  
  • Elana Wilson Rowe, NUPI: The Lorax Project: Understanding Ecosystemic Politics (Social sciences and Humanities)
Written by:
Brita Skuland. Translation: Darren McKellep/Carol B. Eckmann
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