The European Research Council (ERC) – the first pan-European funding body for frontier research - aims to enhance the dynamic character, creativity and excellence of European research at the frontiers of knowledge. Born in 2007, ERC consists of a Scientific Council, the decision-making body setting the scientific funding strategy, and  an Executive Agency (ERCEA) which implements the ERC strategy. The ERC operates with the autonomy and integrity guaranteed by the European Commission.

ERC grants are awarded through open competition launched on projects headed by starting and/or established researchers, irrespective of their origins, who are working or moving to work in Europe. The sole selection criterion is scientific excellence. The aim here is to recognize the best ideas and confer status and visibility to the best brains in Europe while at the same time attracting talents from abroad.

IIT secured 25 ERC grants thanks to the following researchers:

Liberato Manna

Liberato Manna

ERC Starting Grant 2009-2013 


Assembly of Colloidal Nanocrystals into Unconventional Types of Nanocomposite Architectures with Advanced Properties.

The unconventional assembly of nanocrystals towards functional materials is the area where this project aims at providing a key contribution. The main objectives are: i) the advanced synthesis of nanoscale building blocks; ii) the assembly of these building blocks into superstructures in solution and on substrates using a novel nano-soldering approach; iii) The structural, mechanical, collective transport and catalytic study of these ensembles

ERC Consolidator Grant 2014-2019 


Advancing the Study of Chemical, Structural and Surface Transformations in Colloidal Nanocrystals.

This project embarks on an ambitious investigation of post-synthetic transformations in solution-grown NCs: by advancing the understanding of various aspects of chemical, structural and surface transformation of NCs, we will uncover new fabrication techniques that will employ such nanostructures as the key ingredients. This in turn will have a strong impact in nanoelectronics, as several electronic components entirely made of NCs will be delivered.

Antonio Bicchi

Antonio Bicchi

ERC Advanced Grant 2012-2017


A Theory of Soft Synergies for a New Generation of Artificial Hands.

SoftHands studies the grasping and manipulation behaviours in humans to develop a new generation of artificial hands. To do this, we leverage on recent neuroscientific concepts regarding sensorimotor synergies and human motor control. The translation of such concepts in engineering uses new technologies, such as soft robotics, to build hands that move in a natural way and adapt to the environment, with an unprecedented level of performance, robustness, and intuitiveness of control. The new SoftHands have wide applications both in industrial and service robotics, and in prosthetics and rehabilitation.

ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2017-2018

SoftHand Pro-H

A Soft Synergy-based Hand Prosthesis with Hybrid Control

In this project we want to apply the SoftHand robotic technology to develop a new generation of work-oriented prostheses. The working hypothesis is that the inspiration of SoftHands to human motor control principles is key in meeting hard requirements as high grip power, grasp versatility, resilience, resistance to water, dust, and temperature, durability, power autonomy and low cost, together with simplicity and intuitivity of the patiente interface.

Cristina Becchio

Cristina Becchio

ERC Starting Grant 2013-2018


Intention-from-MOVEment Understanding: From moving bodies to interacting minds.

From observing other people’s movements, humans make inferences that go far beyond the surface flow of motion: inferences about unobservable mental states such as goals and intentions. I.MOVE.U intends to provide the first comprehensive account of how intentions are extracted from observed body motions during interaction with conspecifics.

ERC POC Grant 2018-2019


A low-cost KInematic Detector to assist early diagnosis and objective profiling of ASD

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a heterogeneous set of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by deficits in social communication and reciprocal interactions, as well as stereotypic behaviours.Recent identification of atypical kinematic patterns in children and infants at increased risk for ASDs provides new insights into autism diagnostic and objective profiling. KiD intends to help move these insights into the development of a low cost, easy-to-use, yet reliable wearable tracking system, designed to assist detection and classification of ASDs. The main use of the devices will be to assist clinicians to achieve expedited diagnosis, ensuring early and timely access of children at risk of autism to evidence-based intervention programs.

Francesco De Angelis

Francesco De Angelis

ERC Consolidator Grant 2014-2018


The project aims at developing hybrid interfaces between living neuronal networks and optical and electronic nano-devices. It may give significant advances in the development of brain-machine interfaces and into understanding the neuronal code, namely how our brain processes and stores information.



Paolo Decuzzi

Paolo Decuzzi

ERC Consolidator 2014-2019


Engineering Discoidal Polymeric Nanoconstructs for the Multi-Physics Treatment of Brain Tumors.

The ERC Project Potent deals with the development of novel nanomedicines for the imaging and treatment of Glioblastoma Multifome – the most common and deadly form of primary brain cancer. Engineers, biotechnologists, physicists, chemists, pharmacologists, computational scientists and medical doctors work in a highly interdisciplinary environment for tackling such a challenging quest.

Mario Caironi


Mario Caironi

ERC Starting Grant 2015-2020


High-frequency printed and direct-written Organic-hybrid Integrated Circuits.

The project aims at developing a next generation of printable, lightweight flexible and large-area electronics which can operate at High Frequency, therefore drastically expanding the possible applications of such technology. From low speed sensors and microelectronics applications which are targeted today, the project aims at developing printed electronics building blocks, such as transistors, operating in the GHz range, thus envisioning advanced electronics for high resolution, full color flexible displays and for real time plastic imagers, up to enabling technologies for all printed and plastic wireless smart tags and local area networks of distributed and/or wearable sensors for healthcare, domotics and automation.

Tommaso Fellin

Tommaso Fellin

ERC Consolidator Grant 2015-2020


How neuronal activity patterns drive behavior: novel all-optical control and monitoring of brain neuronal networks with high spatiotemporal resolution.

NEURO-PATTERNS will unravel the language the brain uses to process and interpret information coming from the outside world. To this aim, we will produce a new technology for stimulating and monitoring neurons in the brain with single-cell specificity that can be adapted to explore cellular dynamics in a variety of biological media.

Teresa Pellegrino

Teresa Pellegrino

ERC Starting Grant 2016-2019


Colloidal Inorganic Nanostructures for Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy

Radio and chemotherapy are the major clinical treatments for cancer. However, these treatments lack cell specificity and can have severe side effects against healthy cells, especially when used in combination. This project aims at developing a nanocrystal (NC) platform to merge radio and chemotherapy into a single entity that is more specific towards tumor cells.

Ferruccio Pisanello

Ferruccio Pisanello

ERC Starting Grant 2016-2021


Multipoint Optical DEvices for Minimally invasive neural circuits interface

MODEM strives at developing new technologies for interfacing with the brain: a generation of devices able to better study the extreme complexity and diversity of brain topology and connectivity.




Agnieszka Wykowska

Agnieszka Wykowska

ERC Starting Grant 2017-2022


Intentional stance for social attunement.

Project InStance is dedicated to human social cognition in interaction with artificial agents. In particular, InStance examines conditions enabling social attunement between a human and a humanoid robot, and whether adopting intentional stance towards the robot plays a role in engagement of mechanisms of social cognition. The aim is not only to understand human social cognition, but also to provide guidelines on how to design robots well tuned to the workings of the human brain.



Gianni Ciofani

Gianni Ciofani

ERC Starting Grant 2017-2022


Magnetic Solid Lipid Nanoparticles as a Multifunctional Platform against Glioblastoma Multiforme

The SLaMM project aims at the development of multifunctional lipid-based nanovectors for the delivery and the targeting of drugs to the brain, in the treatment of extremely aggressive brain tumors. The nanovectors will be tested on a specifically developed in vitro model, before their final validation in vivo.

Laura Cancedda

Laura Cancedda

ERC Consolidator Grant 2017-2022


Rescuing Cognitive Deficits in Neurodevelopmental Disorders by Gene Editing in Brain Development: the Case of Down Syndrome.

The project aims at investigating whether gene editing in a subpopulation of neuronal progenitors in the developing central nervous system can ameliorate cognitive impairment in mouse models of Down syndrome. Investigations on innovative in vivo delivery systems for the gene editing tools at higher translational value will complete the project.

Barbara Caputo

Barbara Caputo

ERC Consolidator Grant 2017-2020


Robots learning about objects from externalized knowledge sources

The project aims develop a new generation of robots able to acquire perceptual and semantic knowledge about object from externalized, unembodied resources, to be used in situated settings. By enabling robots to use knowledge resources on the Web that were not explicitly designed to be accessed for this purpose, RoboExNovo will pave the way for ground-breaking technological advances in home and service robotics, driver assistant systems, and in general any Web-connected situated device.

Annamaria Petrozza

Annamaria Petrozza

ERC Consolidator Grant 2018-2023


The role of Softness in the Physics of Defects: Probing Buried Interfaces in Perovskites Optoelectronic Devices

SOPHY will develop tools and knowledge to probe optoelectronic processes at buried interfaces delivering a long time pursued target in many fields of nanotechnology. Semiconducting metal halide perovskites, and devices based on them, will be the primary technology under investigation, given its potential to represent the merging point between the efficient inorganic and the chameleonic organic electronics. These materials have a characteristic structure prone to a wide set of defects, sensitive to the device operating conditions. The control of structure-properties relationship, especially at interfaces, is elusive, and the prediction of device operation, necessary to engineer reliable systems, is not possible without an “in vivo” approach. SOPHY addresses the above challenge by putting in place an experimental tool which will film the physical processes of an optoelectronic device in action.

Sauro Succi

Sauro Succi

ERC Advanced Grant 2018-2022


Computational Design of Mesoscale Porous Materials

COPMAT targeted the full-scale simulation at nanometric resolution of microfluidic devices for the design and synthesis of new tunable porous materials mostly, but not exclusively, for biomedical applications.




Paolo Melchiorre

ERC Consolidator Grant 2018-2022


Light-Driven Asymmetric Organocatalysis

Visible light photocatalysis and metal-free organocatalytic processes are powerful strategies of modern chemical research with extraordinary potential for the sustainable preparation of organic molecules. However, these environmentally respectful approaches have to date remained largely unrelated. The proposed research seeks to merge these fields of molecule activation to redefine their synthetic potential.

Giandomenico Iannetti

ERC Consolidator Grant 2014


Novel neurophysiological techniques to quantify pain and stratify patients

In the last 15 years the advances in understanding the molecular mechanisms of pain have been spectacular. However, despite the >200 genes identified and the dramatic insights on transduction and transmission of nociceptive signals, very little has changed in the diagnosis and treatment of pain, at least in terms of analgesic drugs. The project has two main objectives: developing neurophysiological biomarkers of pain perception and developing neurophysiological biomarkers of the susceptibility to develop chronic pain

Under Negotiation

Alessandro Gozzi

ERC Starting Grant 2018

Maria Rosa Antognazza

ERC Starting Grant 2018

Alessandra Sciutti

ERC Starting Grant 2018


More projects have been won by Valentina Cauda and Iwan Moreels respectivelly:

  • Starting Grant 2015: TROJANANOHORSE - Hybrid immune-eluding nanocrystals as smart and active theranostic weapons against cancer. The project is hosted by another research institute with whom IIT collaborates.
  • Starting Grant  2016: PHOCONA - Photonics in Flatland: Band Structure Engineering of 2D Excitons in Fluorescent Colloidal Nanomaterials. The project is hosted by another research institute.