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News Release 12-127

National Science Foundation and European Commission Establish New Collaboration Opportunities for Early Career Scientists

Leaders sign agreement to promote research collaborations between European and U.S. researchers

July 13, 2012

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The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the European Commission (EC) today signed an Implementing Arrangement to provide opportunities for NSF-funded early career scientists and engineers to pursue research collaborations with European colleagues supported through the European Research Council (ERC) awards. The agreement supports collaborations on specific projects while leveraging research funding and fostering lasting collaborations between European and U.S. researchers.

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and NSF Director Subra Suresh signed the arrangement today at the European Science Open Forum in Dublin.

At the signing ceremony Geoghegan-Quinn said, "This agreement is a great addition to the strong transatlantic cooperation in the field of research, and recognition of the strength of the ERC brand just five years after its founding. This new initiative will in particular boost the circulation and exchange of talent between our two continents. This is good for global science and therefore good for all of us, as we seek to find answers to so many important questions."

"Connecting U.S. and European researchers with shared interests and complementary strengths will advance the frontiers of science and engineering and address societal challenges," Suresh said. "We appreciate the European Commission's and the ERC's enthusiastic support for this significant opportunity for U.S. early career scientists and engineers to gain international experience and exposure for their research.

The program draws upon the goals and objectives of the NSF Science Across Virtual Institutes program, which recognizes that scientific excellence exists around the world and connects researchers with common interests and goals across international borders. Under this new agreement, ERC-funded researchers will host U.S. scientists and engineers, initially those supported by NSF's CAREER awards for junior faculty and recipients of NSF's Postdoctoral Research Fellowships.

Under the terms of the Implementing Arrangement, the ERC will identify researchers wishing to host NSF funded investigators, and NSF will solicit proposals from its CAREER awardees and Postdoctoral Research Fellows for these potential collaborative opportunities. This agreement will allow US scientists to be incorporated in the ERC-funded teams and will be supported as any other ERC team members. NSF will cover travel costs for the US scientists. NSF will release further details through an upcoming Dear Colleague Letter.

"The ERC is very pleased about this new initiative with the NSF, which can stimulate young talent in the US to gain experience in Europe," said ERC President Helga Nowotny. "This agreement is a first, but we have indications that more countries may follow suit, and the ERC welcomes this. The recently launched Global Research Council can be the appropriate forum for such developments."

Set up in 2007 by the European Commission, the European Research Council aims to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by encouraging competition for funding between the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age.  It is composed of an Executive Agency and a Scientific Council. The latter sets the ERC scientific strategy and consists of 22 top scientists and scholars. The ERC is led by President Prof. Helga Nowotny and the Scientific Council is represented in Brussels by Secretary General Prof. Donald Dingwell. The ERC Executive Agency implements the "Ideas" Specific Programme and is led by Director (ad int.) Pablo Amor.


Media Contacts
Dana Topousis, NSF, (703) 292-7750, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2019, its budget is $8.1 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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