Today the European Research Council (ERC) is awarding via the ‘Proof of Concept’ scheme a total of €9.3 million (62 projects of €150,000 each) to top scientists in order to explore the commercial or societal potential of their frontier research discoveries. The 1000th project to receive Proof of Concept funding since the scheme started in 2011 will be run by engineer Miguel González Herráez, based in the Spanish University of Alcalá. His project aims to provide a low-cost, permanent solution for sensing earthquake activity in remote areas of the ocean. It will work by creating a method to retrofit the extensive existing networks of underwater telecommunication fiber optic cables and transform them into powerful seismic sensing arrays. Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, said: “Europe excels in turning money into great science, but still has to improve its ability to turn excellent science into money and benefits to society. For the past eight years, ERC Proof of Concept grants have helped top researchers progress in the world of entrepreneurship. I am confident that the new European Innovation Council will also be able to provide follow-up support to help turn proofs of concept into successful innovations.” The ERC ‘Proof of Concept’ grants awarded today can be used for example to help researchers explore new business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts. The grants cover research on a variety of topics. Rewarded projects include one to create an application to test children for synaesthesia, another to automate bug removal from computer networks and a third to design personalised doses of medication. The grants, awarded three times a year, are part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.
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