The European Commission has appointed Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon as the next President of the European Research Council (ERC), the EU’s premier funding body for investigator-driven frontier research.
Professor Bourguignon, a mathematician and French national, will take over in his new role as of 1 January 2014, replacing Professor Helga Nowotny. He will be the first ERC President to be based in Brussels, in a new reinforced role.
€13 billion to spend
Bourguignon will take the helm of the ERC at the start of the next EU Framework programme, Horizon 2020, under which the council is set to receive a significant budget boost. Over the seven-year Horizon 2020 programme, the ERC will receive 17 per cent of the total budget – which equates to €13 billion in constant prices. Under Framework 7, the ERC received €7.5 bn.
European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “Just six years since its launch, the ERC has won a global reputation for funding the best curiosity-driven research. It now needs continued strong leadership and imagination to elevate its standing further. Professor Bourguignon is the right choice for this task, given his distinguished academic career, international renown, and proven record of leadership. I am confident that he will defend the ERC principles of excellence and independence. I also pay tribute to outgoing President Professor Helga Nowotny, who has led the ERC from strength to strength.”
Honoris causa in China and Japan
Jean-Pierre Bourguignon was the Director of the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHÉS) from 1994 till 2013. This international research institute located near Paris, France, was built as the European counterpart of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He was also the first ERC Panel Chair in Mathematics, for Starting Grants. A mathematician by training, he spent his whole career as a fellow of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). He held a Professor position at École polytechnique from 1986 to 2012. From 1990 to 1992, he was President of the Société Mathématique de France and President of the European Mathematical Society from 1995 to 1998.
In 2005, he was elected honorary member of the London Mathematical Society and has been the secretary of the mathematics section of the Academia Europaea. In 2008, he was made Doctor Honoris Causa of Keio University, Japan, and, in 2011, Doctor Honoris Causa of Nankai University, China.
Retain the best brains
The European Research Council was established under the European Union’s FP7 research programme. It awards grants through open competitions to projects headed by starting and established researchers, irrespective of their origins, who are working or moving to work in Europe. The sole criterion for selection is scientific excellence. The aim is to recognise the best ideas, retain the best brains in Europe, and attract talent from abroad. Under the next, seven-year EU research funding programme, Horizon 2020 (2014-2020), the ERC’s budget will rise to over €13 billion, a nearly 60% increase over the current period.
In this vimeo, professor Bourguignon describes a beautiful formula