Jul 7, 2017
Founded in 2007, the European Research Council (ERC) is a public body that funds "investigator-driven" research conducted within the European Union (EU). The ERC is a key element of the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme, the EU's biggest ever research and innovation programme, with nearly 80 billion [euros] of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020). The main goal of the ERC is to encourage high quality research in Europe through competitive funding that is awarded on the basis of scientific excellence. The European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA) asked RAND Europe and Observatoire des sciences et des technologies (OST) to carry out a comprehensive scientometric assessment of the outputs of ERC grants — the first time that a full analysis of the ERC's funded research had been conducted in this way. The main, quantitative part of the study took a comparative approach: it compared ERC-funded researchers' performance before and after they received funding, as well as compared this group with a sample of unfunded ERC applicants and matched samples of researchers supported by other US and EU funding agencies. The evaluation delivered a robust framework which will allow for continuous updates of ERC scientific achievements in the future. The results were documented through a series of reports.