Thibaut David, head of the Fostering Science program

Categorie(s) : Interviews, Life @ MINATEC, News, Research

Published : 1 October 2019

“Grenoble has very high ERC grant success rates”


The Fostering Science program helps scientists with their ERC grant applications. What kind of assistance do you provide?

We start by making sure that applicants understand how ERC grants work and what type of grant to apply for depending on whether they have two, five, or ten years’ experience or more. They often want to know if they have to give an oral presentation, who should lead the project, and who to have on their team. We also make sure that the research topic is appropriate. ERC grants are for breakthrough concepts, not incremental innovations. Finally, we help scientists write their proposals and practice their oral presentations.


How many scientists have you helped over your seven years in operation?

We have met with more than 300 researchers—either based in Grenoble or affiliated with a team based in Grenoble—since 2012. The average overall success rate for ERC grants is 12%; our applicants’ success rate is 24%. Plus, the scientists we help tend to use what they have learned to apply for other grants. So, the investment, which is ideally over a six-month period, generates returns over the long term.


So, Grenoble’s scientific community is doing well. But how can we do better?

By applying more. Far too many scientists fail to apply simply because they don’t have accurate information. Sometimes they underestimate the value of their work. And then there’s the misconception that winning an ERC grant is somewhere between being published in Nature and winning a Nobel Prize. There are rules that you have to follow, but if you do, ERC grants are well within reach. And the several million euros in funding can completely change the trajectory of an exploratory research project.


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