Crue and the European Research Council discuss research funding in Europe

Madrid, 17 November 2023. This Friday, 17 November, Crue Spanish Universities organised a meeting in Madrid with the President of the European Research Council (ERC), Maria Leptin, to discuss the future Framework Programme for multiannual research funding in Europe. This meeting, led by the President of Crue’s Sectorial Commission for Internationalisation and Cooperation and Rector of the UNED, Ricardo Mairal, and attended by vice-rectors of internationalisation and research of Spanish universities, was held in the Assembly Hall of the Faculty of Psychology of the UNED, in Madrid. 

Rector Ricardo Mairal

Mairal highlighted the opportunity provided by this meeting to learn from the President of the ERC about the content of the debates that have begun in Europe to define the next framework programme for research as of 2027. He also explained that the European Commission is currently working on an ex-post evaluation of Horizon 2020 and on the mid-term evaluation of Horizon Europe, the results of which will contribute to defining the Commission’s proposal for the 10th Framework Programme to be published, presumably, before mid-2025. “The conclusions of this meeting are enormously beneficial for defining our research policies,” he added. 

For her part, Crue’s R&I representative for international affairs and Vice Rector of Research at the University of Murcia, Senena Corbalán, explained that Spain was the fifth country in Europe with the highest participation in Horizon 2020 calls, behind only the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. She also indicated that, of the ten Spanish institutions with the highest return in this programme, seven were universities, a fact that, according to Corbalán, reveals that these “are in line with research excellence and are able to compete at the highest international level”. 

Senena Corbalán

Regarding the next framework programme for research, which is currently being discussed at European level, Corbalán indicated that it represents an “enormous opportunity” for Spanish universities to promote research and innovation and once again demonstrate “the quality of the science they do”. 

“Brilliant” projects that need funding 

The president of the ERC, Maria Leptin, has assured Rectors and Vice Rectors of Spanish universities that this European body “needs” their contributions and support “to convince the governments of Europe that more funding is needed” for research. “We need at least twice as much money as we have now,” she said, adding that there are “many brilliant projects by researchers all over Europe, which, if they could be funded, would contribute to the health, to the wealth of society and to solving many problems”.

Maria Leptin

The ERC, established by the European Union in 2007, is Europe’s leading funding organisation for excellent research. It supports researchers of any nationality and age to carry out projects across Europe. The current funding framework (2021-2027) has a budget of 16 billion Euros, 17% of the total Horizon Europe budget. Since 2007, the ERC has funded more than 12,000 projects and more than 10,000 researchers. 

The ERC offers four main grant programmes: Starting Grants, Consolidation Grants, Advanced Grants and Synergy Grants. With its additional proof-of-concept grant programme, the ERC helps grantees explore the innovation potential of their ideas or research results.