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The ERC must strive to widen participation if it is to remain relevant

The European Research Council is often portrayed as the jewel in the EU’s research funding crown. Around the world, there is no other institution quite like it. From it, excellent researchers from the EU and beyond can obtain funding regardless of age, career status or topic. All they must do—admittedly more easily said than done—is prove their work is excellent.

Yet, from the start, the ERC’s role was a controversial one. When it launched in 2007, conversations abounded about what it should prioritise. Early career researchers perhaps? Or those who had failed to obtain funding from national outlets? Instead, it has focused on funding anyone who is deemed excellent, and has been led by researchers rather than outlining narrow topics it is willing to fund. 

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