Wageningen researchers are usually good at getting lots of research funding from Europe. But they are not yet having much luck with the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants.
In the most recent allocation round in mid-January, Dutch universities were awarded 29 of the 312 European Consolidator Grants, initially a form of Starting Grant, with an average value of 1.84 million euros. However there was not one Wageningen scientist among the 29 successful applicants.
That is surprising, given Wageningen’s results in the past. For instance, last year the university took part in 216 European research projects and DLO was involved in no less than 255 EU projects. What is more, six Wageningen researchers got an ERC Advanced Grant in recent years. Twenty seven percent of the proposals submitted were awarded a grant, which is much higher than the Dutch average. But Wageningen’s score for the ERC Starting Grants is only 10 per cent, below the national average.
Why does the university do worse here? ‘These grants are for researchers who recently got their PhD,’ explains spokesman Simon Vink. ‘In Wageningen, they are often still publishing papers with their supervisor, but those publications don’t count in the application for a Starting Grant from the ERC. That reduces the chances of success.’ The requirement of international experience may also be to the disadvantage of the stay-at-home Wageningen scientists, suspects Vink.
The university is looking at ways to get more individual grants.