The European Commission has appointed French mathematician Jean-Pierre Bourguignon as the next President of the European Research Council (ERC). He steps into the post on 1 January 2014, at a time when the ERC is growing in stature and budget, with €13 billion - a boost of 60 per cent - to spend over the next seven years under Horizon 2020.
“Just six years since its launch, the ERC has won a global reputation for funding the best curiosity-driven research,” said EU R&D Commissioner, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. Bourguignon’s task will be to provide “strong leadership and imagination to elevate its standing further,” she said.
Bourguignon said that he was “a bit overwhelmed” by the responsibility of running the research council given its “fantastic success” in such a short space of time. He moves up from the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, and says one of his main objectives in his new role is to develop the next generation of researchers in Europe, despite the cuts in funding at national level.
The appointment was welcomed by Bourguignon’s predecessor, Helga Nowotny. But she warned he “will need to be vigilant to safeguard the unique specificity of the ERC in the years to come.”
Bourguignon will hold the position of ERC President for a term of four years, renewable once, and will be the first ERC President to be based in Brussels. This means he will also fulfil the role of the current ERC Secretary General, Donald Dingwell, who has acted as the ERC Scientific Council's permanent representative in Brussels.