News archive - ERA Chairs boosting research excellence in the WBC

The European Commission recently announced 11 universities and technical institutes in less developed regions in Europe are to receive up to €2.4 million each in EU FP7 funding to boost their research capacity though the appointment of the first ever "ERA Chairs". The Chairs will permit these institutions to develop, in a particular field, the level of excellence required to successfully compete internationally for research funding and effectively widen participation in EU programmes. 
The University of Zagreb in Croatia, the Institut Jozef Stefan in Slovenia, and the Institut Za Nuklearne Nauke Vinca in Serbia are among these 11 institutions. Around 15 more ERA Chairs are expected to be announced next year following the first Horizon 2020 call published in December.

The initiative has generally aimed to bridge Europe's innovation divide by attracting top academics to organisations so that they can compete with centres of excellence elsewhere in the European Research Area (ERA). The first pilot call was open to research organisations located in less-developed EU regions or similar areas in countries associated to the EU's seventh research framework programme (FP7). A total of 111 proposals were submitted for evaluation, including 55 proposals from Member States that joined the EU after 2004. This number exceeded expectations and, due to the high number of excellent proposals received, the original budget foreseen in the Work Programme was doubled from €12 to €24 million.

Once recruited, the ERA Chairs and their teams will undertake research in a wide spectrum of scientific fields, such as aquaculture, environmental chemistry, veterinary medicine, human computer interactions and low carbon emission in cities (see table).

List of projects to be funded under ERA Chairs FP7 Pilot Call



Area of research


Université de Mons

Energy efficiency in cities


University of Zagreb -Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Molecular veterinary medicine

Czech Republic

Masarykova univerzita

Life sciences


Tallinna Tehnikaulikool

Chemistry and biomass treatment


Instytut Genetyki Roślin Polskiej Akademii Nauk

Plant biology


MITI – Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute Associacao

Human computer interactions

Republic of Serbia

Institut Za Nuklearne Nauke Vinca



Zilinska Univerzita v Ziline

Transport systems and communication technologies


Institut Jozef Stefan

Food analysis through radioactive isotopes


Universidad de las Palmas de Gran Canaria


The United Kingdom

Falmouth University

Digital games design

Around 15 more ERA Chairs are expected to be announced next year following the first Horizon 2020 call published in December. Under Horizon 2020, ERA Chairs will be funded as a core scheme under the actions on "Spreading excellence and widening participation". The first Horizon 2020 call launched on 11 December 2013 (IP/13/1232) included a budget of €34 million for the next round of ERA chairs and the deadline for applications is 15 October 2014. Details of the new call and eligible regions are available on the Participant Portal.

Fore more information on next ERA Chairs, read below a selection of FAQ published by the EC:

What will happen to ERA Chairs under Horizon 2020, the new EU research framework programme?

Together with teaming and twinning, ERA Chairs are part of a set of measures in Horizon 2020 to tackle Europe's research/innovation divide and to encourage wider participation in EU-funded research. Issues such as the availability of research funding, institutional rigidities and access to resources hamper the mobility of outstanding researchers to promising institutions in low performing regions. ERA Chairs actions will create the appropriate conditions and opportunities for high quality researchers and research managers to move and engage with willing institutions to improve the excellence of their research and thereby modify their research and innovation landscape.

Which research themes are eligible?

Proposals from all areas of scientific and technological research as defined in the Horizon 2020 Work Programme are welcome. There are no pre-defined priority areas. However, regions cannot do everything in science, technology and innovation. According to the 'smart specialisation' strategy, a key element of the Europe 2020 Strategy, Member States and regions should play to their strengths.

Which institutions are eligible to apply for an ERA Chair under Horizon 2020?

To apply for an ERA Chair, a university or research organisation must be a legal entity located in one of the regions detailed in Chapter 15- Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation of Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014-2015, which focuses in particular on new Member States. Eligibility is based on a composite research indicator which identifies countries with a deficit in innovation and research.

What is the total budget for ERA Chairs in Horizon 2020?

The budget allocated for ERA Chairs under Horizon 2020 is expected to be €240 million (subject to the approval of the budgetary authorities). This should allow for the creation of more than 100 ERA Chairs during the course of the programme.

When will the first call on ERA Chairs under Horizon 2020 be published?

The first call was opened on 11 December 2013 and the deadline for submission of proposals is 15 October 2014. The total budget is €34 million and the maximum EU contribution per ERA Chair is €2.5 million for up to five years. This should allow funding around 15 new ERA Chair projects.

The criteria of a maximum of one successful ERA Chair per country applied to the pilot stage. Is also applicable in H2020?

No, this was specific to the pilot call. The new call does not have this restriction.


Source: EC press release

Geographical focus
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • General

Entry created by Desiree Pecarz on February 14, 2014
Modified on February 14, 2014