Funding fest at the UT: ‘We are not losing momentum’

| Jelle Posthuma

With three Vici and two ERC Advanced Grants, UT scientists achieved an absolute top score in personal grants. According to Telma Esteves, Team Lead at the Grants Office, the achievement feels like a reassurance. ‘However, personal grants are by no means the only route for funding.’

Telma Esteves, Team Lead at the Grants Office of Strategic Business Development.

The Vici and ERC Advanced Grants are the most prestigious grants awarded to senior scientists, at the national and European levels respectively. According to Esteves, a good bottle was opened at the Grants Office after the news of the Advanced Grants and Vici's arrived. At Strategic Business Development, her team assists UT researchers in obtaining funding. ‘It should serve as reassurance to everyone. We are not losing momentum.’

In recent years, there has been little to celebrate for the UT in terms of the highest personal grants. According to Esteves, the difference between years can be well explained. 'As a small, technical university, it is natural that we have to deal with such fluctuations.’ Not all UT science is eligible for ERC Advanced or Vici grants, Esteves explains. According to her, it is very important that eligible researchers 'time' their applications well. That is why the number of applications per year is low. 'When we participate, like this year, we are often among the winners. Thirty percent of the UT's Vici applications were successful. The success rate on ERC Advanced was fifty per cent. These numbers are much higher than the Dutch and European average.'

Other routes

The Grants Office representative emphasises that a personal grant is by no means the only route for science funding. 'There are plenty of other vehicles. At our university, a lot of more applied research is done. As a result, funding through companies or consortia is also very feasible. What matters is that a scientist thinks strategically about the different routes. As Strategic Business Development, we also support them in this process. It makes sense to look as broadly and be as flexible as possible. If one funding stream dries up, it is good to be able to take another route.'

Esteves also stresses that personal grants are all about team effort. 'Perhaps media celebrate the success of one individual too much. The scientist who receives the grant leads a team. And it is team effort that makes success possible. This very team could be emphasised more, for instance in press releases about grants.'

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