The ERC was formally inaugurated at a meeting in Berlin attended by the German Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel....
In Europe, public research is funded by individual national agencies as well as the EU's Framework Programme; but the latter has often been criticised as being over-bureaucratic, skewed towards big, complex collaborations, and subject to political pressures.
The ERC is therefore a marked departure from all that has gone before it.
Research projects will not have to be collaborative - they do not have to be pan-European even. There will be no specification of research areas or themes. There will be no "juste retour" which sees member states get back a "fair proportion" of the monies they put into the funding pot.
The ERC has really simple guiding principles: the types of projects it funds must be at the "frontiers" of knowledge. It is looking for "excellence"....
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.