From healthy lives to sustainable cities, from food security to equal societies – frontier research is often credited to have the potential to produce paradigm-shifting discoveries with economic, societal and policy impacts.
With almost 10,000 researchers supported all over Europe, the European Research Council (ERC) is a key component of the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.
But while the main objective of frontier research is to fund multi-disciplinary, pioneering projects allowing scientists to follow their curiosity, critics of the concept consider there should be more control over the research process to avoid ethical drawbacks.
Just days before the inspirational scientist will receive the Nobel Prize in Stockholm, he underlines that it is "important that scientists are allowed to derive knowledge for its own sake”.
New interdisciplinary research on nanotechnology and cancer biology is taking us one step closer to developing personalised care plans for cancer, but this tiny technology poses a huge challenge for EU regulation due to its small size and fast-paced evolution.
Instead of funding 'business as usual'-research, the need to take a long-term perspective is crucial for innovative solutions, but that is often difficult to accept for policymakers, the head of a top European research agency told EURACTIV.com in an interview.
Serious challenges in the energy and transport sectors could be solved, or at least mitigated, by a step-change in storage capabilities, supported by EU funding.