Share article:
Share article:

EU awards top researchers from 17 countries

© ERC

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded grants to 55 researchers from 17 countries to explore the commercial or societal potential of their research results. A spin-off of one of the projects is a tool to detect bacteria and viruses in water.

The grants, which are worth €150,000 each and are part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, can be used to explore business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts.

“The ERC grants announced today is yet another means of EU support to our brightest scientists that will enable them to advance our knowledge across a broad front for the benefit of our societies and economies,” said Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation and Research (27 April).

“Moreover, the coronavirus crisis we are faced with today prompts us to rethink the vital role of science and research in Europe and beyond,” she added. “They are our best hope for progress and best insurance policy against the unexpected.”

The awarded projects cover a variety of topics, for example a faster and cheaper approach to detect disease-causing microorganisms; low-power, energy-harvesting hearing implants; or developing a sustainable social business to manage and ethically distribute donated DNA data to scientists.

The new grants were awarded to researchers working in 17 countries: Austria (1 grant), Switzerland (2), Cyprus (1), Germany (9), Spain (5), Finland (1), France (3), Israel (5), Italy (4), Luxembourg (1), Netherlands (3), Norway (1) Poland (1), Portugal (1), Sweden (3), Turkey (1) and the UK (13).

The ERC, set up by the EU in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects in Europe. The ERC also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to work in Europe.

Among the awarded researchers is Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a professor at the Technical University Berlin, where he leads the Astrobiology Research Group and searches for extraterrestrial life. In the course of his research he developed instruments to detect life on Mars. This included tools to spot microbes and their behavior in the natural environment.

His new Portable Device for Detecting Pathogens (PortPath) for applications on Earth is a spin-off of this work. An easy-to-use software together with low-cost hardware will indicate whether pathogens are present in a water sample. Infectious diseases are caused by pathogens, which include among others bacteria and viruses.

The device promises to be faster and cheaper than previous detection methods, and could be used also by non-medical laypersons. The device will first focus on cholera pathogen, which kills some 140,000 people per year in developing countries. Later, its potential will be tested for detection of other pathogens, as well as in food safety applications.

The Brussels Times

Latest news

Efficacy of vaccines against new variant known in a few weeks, virologist says
The efficacy of the current coronavirus vaccines against the new Omicron variant will be clear in one to two weeks, Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst ...
Scientists could have communicated better during pandemic, survey shows
The majority of Flemish people continue to trust scientists, however, only half of them feel scientists communicated understandably during the ...
Closing borders and new travel restrictions: Countries react to Omicron variant
As more cases of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus are being reported across the world, more and more countries are imposing tougher travel ...
Several rush hour train services to be scrapped from Monday
Up to ten peak time trains to and from Brussels will be temporarily cancelled starting from Monday, Belgian railway company SNCB announced this ...
Europe’s largest vintage clothes store is in Ghent this weekend
Europe's largest pop-up store for second-hand clothes is once again setting up shop in Ghent on Sunday, offering more than five tonnes of vintage ...
Animal welfare in EU’s pig meat sector: What’s wrong?
EU has put into place legislation to ensure that animal welfare conditions are respected in its agricultural policy but the breaches of its ...
‘Not feasible’: Doctors refuse to follow new testing strategy
Doctors have warned they will not follow the government's adapted testing strategy which would see vaccinated people who were in close contact with a ...
Flanders introduces ‘invisible’ speed cameras
New digital speed cameras that are essentially invisible to the road user are being introduced on various roads and motorways in Flanders, Flemish ...
Warnings issued for slippery roads across Belgium
Drivers have been asked to watch out for slippery roads from Saturday afternoon until Sunday evening, as snow and cold temperatures are expected ...
Testing rules following high-risk contact eased for vaccinated people
The coronavirus testing policy following a high-risk contact has been eased, meaning a vaccinated person who was in contact with an infected person ...
New measures announced for Belgian schools
Stricter rules are being implemented across a variety of sectors in Belgium to curb the rising number of infections and limit the damage as a result ...
Majority of booster doses should be administered by March 2022
Invitations will be sent out in the following days for the general population in Belgium to receive a coronavirus booster vaccine, and most adults ...