UofG research projects to share in €540m EU funding boost

Published: 28 March 2019

University of Glasgow-led research projects are set to benefit from a major injection of European funding.

University of Glasgow-led research projects are set to benefit from a major injection of European funding.

Three new projects from the University’s College of Science and Engineering and College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences will receive €7.5m from the European Research Council’s Advanced Grant initiative.

Advanced Grants are presented to accomplished principal investigators and their teams undertaking groundbreaking, high-risk research projects in the fields of social sciences and the humanities, life sciences, and physical and engineering sciences.

Each principal investigator can apply for up to €2.5m in research funding for periods of up to five years. The latest annual round of Advanced Grants, announced today (Thursday 28 March), will total €540m and could lead to the creation of up to 2,000 new jobs.

The University of Glasgow’s Professor Klaas Wynne, Chair in Chemical Physics in the School of Chemistry, will head a new project called ‘Laser control over crystal nucleation’, or CONTROL. The project, which has received €2.49m in funding from the ERC, will use sophisticated light sources to “pull” crystals out of solution, control their properties, and thereby enable new applications in the pharmaceutical industry and elsewhere.

Professor Neil Metcalfe, of the University’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, will lead a €2.45m project called MitoWild, in collaboration with Professors Colin Selman and Richard Hartley. It will aim to apply novel methods of measuring the performance of mitochondria to animals living in natural environments. The mitochondria are the powerhouses that provide the energy used by the cells of the body; this project will reveal how variation among individual animals in the way that their mitochondria work influences their ability to cope with changing environments.

Professor Stephen Brewster, of the University’s School of Computing Science, has received €2.4 for a project to investigate motion sickness, social acceptability and interaction in virtual and augmented reality passenger experiences called ViAjeRo. It will harness the benefits of fully autonomous vehicles, and will greatly reduce time and effort wasted during journeys, by developing new ways for passengers to use virtual and augmented reality technologies for entertainment, work and collaboration on the move.

Professor Miles Padgett, Vice-Principal for Research at the University of Glasgow, said: “It’s fantastic to see these three exciting projects receive the backing of the European Research Council. Each of them is set to break new ground in very different areas of science, which is a testament to the strength of knowledge and spirit of invention which makes the University of Glasgow such a great place to work and learn. It also demonstrates the continuing benefits of European funding and collaboration for higher education here in the UK.”

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “The ERC Advanced Grants back outstanding researchers throughout Europe. Their pioneering work has the potential to make a difference in people’s everyday life and deliver solutions to some of our most urgent challenges. The ERC gives these bright minds the possibility to follow their most creative ideas and to play a decisive role in the advancement of all domains of knowledge.”

The President of the European Research Council (ERC), Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, said: “Since 2007, the European Research Council has attracted and financed some of the most audacious research proposals, and independent evaluations show that this approach has paid off. With this call, another 222 researchers from all over Europe and beyond will pursue their best ideas and are in an excellent position to trigger breakthroughs and major scientific advances.”

ERC competitions are open to any nationality and, in this round, researchers of 29 nationalities received funding. The grantees will carry out their projects at universities and research centres in 20 countries across the EU and Horizon 2020 Associated countries.

 Demand for ERC grants remains very high: 2,052 research proposals were submitted this time, out of which almost 11% were selected for funding. Female researchers submitted more than 19% of proposals and some 20% of grants were awarded to women.

The grants will not only allow top researchers to execute their best ideas at the scientific frontiers, but will also lead to job creation as an estimated 2,000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff could be employed in the grantees' research teams.

First published: 28 March 2019

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