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Top performing countries in ERC grant acquisition – Denmark, Finland and Norway on the rise

June 28 2018

Last year we published our analysis of the top performing countries in ERC grant acquisition over a decade. We found that the Netherlands, Switzerland and Israel were top performers while countries such as Poland, Greece, Czech Republic and Slovakia were underperforming. Another year of ERC grants has passed, have things changed?

As ERCs are only granted to excellent researchers who are leaders in their field, with exceptionally strong and competitive profiles, and with high scientific output that can guarantee scientific excellence in the future, it is interesting to see how each country has performed in acquiring the grants.

Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland remain top ERC performers

Previously, we had classified countries into high, medium, and low performing. Unsurprisingly, the same three countries remain top performers as found in the 2017 analysis, where they led the ranking with 20 ERC grants per year more compared to the closest runner up (figure 1). However, the Netherlands passed Switzerland to take the second spot in the ranking, due to an increase in the number of ERC grants (neither had a change of # of universities in the top 1000). These countries still show great superiority at >58 ERCs per university (g/U). Belgium (38 g/U) is now leading the medium performing group as it has surpassed France (34 g/U).

Figure 1: #ERC gramts per top university in each country (2017 and 2018)

Finland and Norway show the strongest year in growth

Within the medium performing group, Denmark advanced the most in the past year at 22% increase g/U (figure 2). Interestingly, Finland and Norway, which were previously classified as underperforming, are now considered medium performing. They have experienced a growth of 26% and 24%, respectively, creating a gap with the country next in line: Italy.  The growth of aforementioned countries is solely due to an increased amount of ERCs granted.

Figure 2: % growth ERCs per country from 2017 to 2018

Lessons to learn

In the 2017 analysis, we already concluded that while there is a strong correlation between the number of top-ranking universities and the number of ERC grants acquired, some countries perform relatively well while others perform below expectations. Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland are efficient at making use of their resources. Especially France, Austria, Spain and Greece should take note as their number of top-ranked universities has increased this year, while their g/U ratio has not (yet) improved. This has led them to underperform compared to the expected growth rate this year. Therefore, there are many opportunities for these countries to exploit their full potential and acquire more ERC grants in the coming years.

Download the complete document

You can download methods, extra analyses, conclusions, raw data and all graphs in HD for free by filling in the form below.

Questions you can find answered there include:

  • Which countries can we expect to improve ERC grant acquisition in the near future?
  • How have countries performed relative to their number of universities?
  • Which countries have performed best when taking university size into account?
  • How is Europe performing in the Times Higher Education ranking?

Sources  (update April 2018)

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Jost de Bruin, MSc
+31 (0)30 73 70 779