Foto Bax Lindhardt

Two ERC Starting Grants for young researchers

Wednesday 12 Jan 22


Sophie Beeren
Associate Professor
DTU Chemistry
+45 45 25 21 23


Andrea Crovetto
Assistant Professor
DTU Nanolab
+45 81 91 53 17
Two young DTU researchers have each won an ERC Starting Grant for independent basic research of EUR 1.5 million or just over DKK 11 million.

After this news item was published, one more DTU researcher received an ERC Starting Grant. Associate Professor Luca Laraia from DTU Chemistry received a grant, which will be used to better understand cholesterol transport proteins' importance in relation to health and disease.

Starting Grants from the European Research Council (ERC) are awarded to talented young researchers. According to the ERC, inventiveness, a willingness to take risks, and ground-breaking research ideas are vital in receiving funding.

With the grants, the researchers can build their own research teams and—together with a group of postdocs and PhD students—go on to create ground-breaking research results.

Seven early-career scientists based in Denmark won European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants this year. In total, 397 young researchers across Europe have won Starting Grants, and the total investment from the ERC is 619 million euros.

The two researchers from DTU are Sophie Beeren and Andrea Crovetto.

Sophie Beeren is an associate professor at DTU Chemistry.

Her project – ENZYME-DCC - will explore a conceptually new approach to using enzymes for chemical synthesis that combines tools and concepts from synthetic chemistry with enzymology. In this new methodology, enzymes catalyze reversible reactions and generate complex dynamic mixtures of interconverting products. So-called template molecules are then added to recognize and select desired products from the mixtures.  

In nature, biomolecular templates define the outcomes of enzymatic reactions in some of the most fundamental biological processes, such as DNA replication, transcription and translation.

This project investigates the possibility of using synthetic (artificial) templates to direct enzymatic reactions and access different products to what is formed in nature.

Read more about Sophie Beeren’s research.

Andrea Crovetto is currently a Marie Curie fellow at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin in Germany and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US. Come April, Andrea Crovetto will move to DTU Nanolab.

In his project – IDOL - Andrea Crovetto will tackle the fundamental question: Where can we find a material with precisely the desired functionality from the vast pool of more than a trillion possible materials? 

The central tool to attack the question will be an on-demand experimental database of material properties. The database will be loaded with  high-throughput combinatorial experiments designed and interpreted by a mix of human and artificial intelligence.

The insights generated by this project will lead to the development and testing of a new solar cell material containing sulfur and phosphorus. This material could overcome some issues relating to the current generation of solar cells.

Read more about Andrea Crovetto’s research.

Aboout ERC Starting Grant

ERC Starting Grants are designed to support excellent Principal Investigators at the career stage at which they are starting their own independent research team or programme.

  • Applicant Principal Investigators must demonstrate the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their scientific proposal.
  • Starting Grants may be awarded up to a maximum of EUR 1.500.000 for a period of 5 years.
  • However, up to an additional EUR 500 000 can be requested in the proposal to cover (a) eligible "start-up" costs for Principal Investigators moving to the EU or an Associated Country from elsewhere as a consequence of receiving the ERC grant and/or (b) the purchase of major equipment and/or (c) access to large facilities.
  • The Principal Investigator shall have been awarded their first PhD at least 2 and up to 7 years prior to 1 January 2019.
  • A competitive Starting Grant Principal Investigator must have already shown the potential for research independence and evidence of maturity, for example by having produced at least one important publication as main author or without the participation of their PhD supervisor.
  • Applicant Principal Investigators should also be able to demonstrate a promising track record of early achievements appropriate to their research field and career stage, including significant publications (as main author) in major international peer-reviewed multidisciplinary scientific journals, or in the leading international peer-reviewed journals of their respective field. They may also demonstrate a record of invited presentations in well-established international conferences, granted patents, awards, prizes etc.

Source: European Commission.

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