News - April 5, 2019

Three big European grants for WUR

Albert Sikkema,Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

Professors John van der Oost, Lourens Poorter and Dolf Weijers have bagged European grants worth 2.5 million euros. They have each won an advanced grant from the European Research Council (ERC).

Lourens Poorter ©WUR

These three grants put Wageningen among the highest scoring universities in the Netherlands. The University of Twente has got three ERC grants too, while Nijmegen comes out top with six grants. In total, Dutch universities have won 23 advanced grants.


These grants for individual scientists, awarded once a year, consist of 2.5 million euros intended for experienced researchers, who can do five years of research with the funding. This year, the ERC handed out 540 million euros to 222 scientists.

Dolf Weijers
Dolf Weijers
John van der Oost
John van der Oost

Wageningen has been remarkably successful this year. Seven WUR researchers submitted a proposal, and three of them were honoured, says Henrieke de Ruiter of the Strategic Accounts department. Wageningen did not get an advanced grant last year, and the year before it got one.

Spinoza Prize

But this year’s grants have not come out of the blue. Personal professor of Microbiology John van der Oost won a Spinoza Prize last year, while chair-holding professor of Biochemistry Dolf Weiners won an ERC starting grant in 2011. Personal professor of Forest Ecology Lourens Poorter, one of the most published WUR researchers, got an NWO Veni grant 17 years ago.

The United Kingdom scored the best again this year, with 47 grants, followed by Germany (32) and France (31). The Netherlands, although much smaller, is in fourth place with 23 grants. European scientists submitted 2052 research proposals to the ERC, and just under 11 per cent of these were honoured.