The “ERA Chairs” are intended to help develop research excellence in low performing research and innovation Member States and regions*. Universities or other eligible research institutions with currently low levels of participation in the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, which have a demonstrated potential and concrete plan for research excellence, will be selected by the Commission to appoint outstanding research leaders: the “ERA Chairs holder” and his/her research team.

Europe for research excellence

The EU needs to act urgently and coherently to achieve the scale of effort and impact needed to address grand challenges with the limited public research funds available. Strategic Research Agendas developed under the Joint Programming Initiatives show Member State commitment to addressing grand challenges as called for in the 2009 Lund Declaration25 and by Council. Joint Programming also has the potential for better anchoring co-operation with international partners. But implementation to date falls short.

Grants as well for foreigners

The crux is to enable transnational research and innovation by exploiting synergies between national and international programmes, strategically aligning different sources of national and other funds at EU level rather than cross-border funding per se. The level of alignment is presently too low to make a serious impression on big and complex challenges. This is due in part to differences between national funding rules and selection processes, but it is also a question of political will.

While researcher mobility contributes to excellence, several obstacles stand in the way of a genuine European research labour market. One of the most important is the lack of transparent, open and merit-based recruitment, which makes research careers less attractive and hampers mobility, Gender equality and research performance.

Giving non-nationals/ non-residents access to national grants and making them portable across borders would make mobility easier. In some cases, legal and administrative barriers prevent this. Initiatives such as ‘Money Follows Researcher’ show how those barriers can be removed and how Member States and research organisations can organise access to and portability of national grants, while upholding the interests of all parties.

Euroaxess and the way to move in Europe

Other obstacles include human resources policies which result in poor career prospects for young researchers, inadequate Gender equality practices, social security obstacles and, insufficient academia-business mobility with only one in six researchers in academia having experience in the private sector. Obstacles to the fair recognition of academic diplomas also persist. The “ERA Chairs” will permit to develop, in a particular field, the level of excellence required to compete internationally and effectively for talents. attracts young reserachers and academic talents from around the world to work under the best and most secure conditions: in Europe.