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ERC distinguished 4 Portuguese projects in the Proof of Concept Grants

The European Research Council (ERC) announced today the results of the Call of Concept Grants. Proof of Concept Grantsin which 4 projects of Portuguese researchers were selected. Each project will receive funding in the order of 150 thousand euros, which translates into a total of 600 thousand euros allocated to Portuguese research in this Call.

The ERC approved a total of 166 projects that applied to this edition of Call of the Proof of Concept Grants, corresponding to around 25 million Euros of investment in European science, of which Portuguese researchers managed to capture 2.4% of the available funding.

The Portuguese researchers who saw their projects approved for funding by the ERC, in the Proof of Concept Grants, were: Manuela Gomes from the Research Institute in Biomaterials, Biodegradables and Biomimetics (3B's) of the University of Minho, with the project: "BioCHIPS - Biofabricated microfluidic CHIPS based on self assembling of CNCs to recreate the hierarchical fibrillar structure of human tissues ECM"; Elvira Fortunato from the Materials Research Center (CENIMAT-i3N) of the New University of Lisbon, with the project: "From Forest to Electronics: Green Graphene"; João Barata from the Institute of Molecular Medicine (iMM) of the University of Lisbon, with the project "A microRNA-regulated cell death-inducing gene therapy for T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia"; and Cecília Roque from the Unit of Applied Biomolecular Sciences - Institute for Health and Bioeconomics (UCIBIO - i4HB), with the project "Non-invasive follow-up of urinary tract cancers".

The Proof of Concept Grants are an extension of the financial support provided to projects previously selected for one of the ERC's other research Studentships . They aim to facilitate the exploitation of the commercial and social innovation potential of scientific research by providing the means for further exploration and testing of ideas and the establishment of partnerships to enable the translation of research results into concrete application.

Overall, 54% of the selected European projects come from the physical sciences and engineering, about a third work in the life sciences, and 11% in the social sciences and humanities. Also noteworthy is the fact that of the selected principal investigators, 48 are women.

In the words of the president of the ERC, Maria Leptin, "frontier research has the ability to generate discoveries that can be rapidly put into practice", and "applied research cannot exist without the basic research that feeds it", which is why the Proof of Concept Grants, in association with the other Studentships of the Horizon Europe program, are essential to foster the development and applicability of innovative scientific research in new areas and new themes. In Portugal, FCT is the coordinator of support to the scientific community for the Horizon Europe program, renewed last year for the period 2021-2027, through Delegates and the National Contact Points (NPCs).