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 an 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 currently secured 50 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.

ERC POC Grant 2020-2022 


Hydrogen could replace fossil fuels, and electrolytic water splitting using renewable energy sources is a promising way to obtain it. The most active hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) electrocatalysts to date are the expensive platinum group metals (PGM).
Our project focuses on PGM based catalysts, but with solutions that reduce the amount of noble metal and that ensure catalyst stability.

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.

ERC Synergy Grant 2019-2025

Natural BionicS

Natural Integration of Bionic Limbs via Spinal Interfacing

“Natural BionicS” is a project dealing with the development of the latest-generation bionic prostheses, combining robotics, software and surgery, in order to obtain “natural” limbs to be connected to the central nervous system. The new bionic prostheses will be connected to the spinal cord, allowing almost unlimited intuitive movement control and perception. The project will be carried out by three partners, with different expertise, Antonio Bicchi in IIT, Dario Farina at London Imperial College, and Oskar Aszmann at Medizinische Universitat in Vienna.

ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2019-2020


Commercial feasibility of an integrated soft robotic system for industrial handling

Within the ""SoftHandler"" ERC Proof of Concept project, we propose to develop new industrial-grade systems, comprised of end-effectors based on the ""SoftHands"" technology, integrated with a novel manipulator, for automated picking and placing of objects of heterogeneous dimension, shape, weight, position and strength./p>

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 Proof of Concept 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.

ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2019-2021



Paolo Decuzzi

Paolo Decuzzi

ERC Consolidator 2014-2020


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.

ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2019-2020


tPA-Nanoconstructs for Treating Acute Ischemic Stroke: a Technical and Commercial Analysis

Based on WHO reports, stroke affects 17M people per year worldwide, with 6M deaths and 5M survivors suffering long-lasting disabilities. This project aims at developing and validating more effective and less toxic therapies via the combination of the clinically approved molecule tPA and rationally-designed, discoidal polymeric nanoconstructs.

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.

ERC Consolidator Grant 2020-2025


ELFO will provide the foundations of new enabling technology for disruptive edible electronic systems, with applications in advanced biomedical devices for continuous monitoring of the health status within the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract, as well as in electronic tags for food monitoring, serving public health and providing at the same time a very powerful tool against counterfeiting. These systems will be unperceivable and mass produced mainly with mask-less, printing and direct-writing methods.

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 2016-2020


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.

ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2020-2021


This project aims at the scale-up production, characterization, future commercialization and clinical translation of magnetic iron oxides nanocubes of high magnetic and structural quality and the design and production of an in-flow set up for the further functionalization of the nanocubes with a thermo-responsive (TR) polymer shell.

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.

ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2019-2020


Advanced in vitro physiological models: Towards real-scale, biomimetic and biohybrid barriers-on-a-chip

The project is focused on the design, production, and proposal for commercialization of the first 1:1 scale 3D printed realistic model of the brain tumor microenvironment, with its associated blood neurovasculature. The proposed model can be easily adopted as multi-compartmental scaffold for the development of advanced co-culture systems.

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 Starting 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 13386

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.




Giandomenico Iannetti

Giandomenico Iannetti

ERC Consolidator Grant 2018-2020


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

ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2020-2022


SpinRec aims to create a new wearing device able to register spinal cord activity. The device, worn during common activities, will monitor electrical stimuli generated by natural movements. The results collected can be useful to diagnose cord damages or chronic pain.

Giuseppe Vicidomini

Giuseppe Vicidomini

ERC Consolidator Grant 2019-2024


Multi-Parameter Live-Cell Observation of Biomolecular Processes with Single-Photon Detector Array

Understanding how biomolecules behave - in a structural and dynamics sense - is the holy grail of cell biology research. The cell is a crowed and ever-changing environment where biomolecules jostle around, interact, concentrate, change in structure and organize in a hierarchical way to carry out all the process that regulate life. Deciphering the bimolecular processes underlying the physiology of a cell is fundamental to understand human health, ageing, and diseases. The overall objective of the BrightEyes project is to develop a set of innovative and non-invasive imaging and spectroscopy tools able to observe a single-biomolecule at work in a living multi-cellular system. Specifically, by exploring novel single-photon detectors arrays, the BrightEyes project will implement an optical system able to continuously (i) track in real-time a biomolecule of interest; (ii) measure its nano-environment and its structural changes; (iii) observe its interactions with other biomolecules; (iv) visualize its sub-cellular micro-environment with nanometre resolution.

Alessandro Gozzi

Alessandro Gozzi

ERC Starting Grant 2019-2024


Neural drivers of functional disconnectivity in brain disorders

The DisConn project aims to study and understand the mechanisms under brain disease and psychic disorders, such as autism or schizophrenia. The project combines genetic studies and state-of-art neural imaging methods, in order to create a detailed map of the central neural system organization and to understand the cerebral spots affected by neural diseases.

Alessandra Sciutti

Alessandra Sciutti

ERC Starting Grant 2019-2024


investigating Human Shared PErception with Robots

wHiSPER aims to study mechanisms of human space and time perception and its changes during human-human or human-robot interactions.






Maria Rosa Antognazza

ERC Starting Grant 2019-2024


Light INduced Cell control by Exogenous organic semiconductors

LINCE will develop light-sensitive devices based on organic semiconductors (OS) for optical regulation of living cells functions. The possibility to control the activity of biological systems is a timeless mission for neuroscientists, since it allows both to understand specific functions and to manage dysfunctions. Respect to traditional electrical methods, optical modulation provides unprecedented spatio-temporal resolution, lower invasiveness, and higher selectivity.

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

ERC Starting Grant 2019-2022


The project focus on decomposing heterogeneity in the autisms







Antonio Ambrosio

Antonio Ambrosio

ERC Consolidator Grant 2019-2024


Shapeshifting Metasurfaces for Chemically Selective Augmented Reality

The project proposes to realize the first shapeshifting optical metasurface that changes its functionality on-demand and adapts to changing external conditions. The metasurface may work as a chemically selective lens that allows transmission only of the spectral fingerprint of a specific molecule in the mid-IR wavelength range. The same metasurface can later be turned into an adaptive lens for focusing and detection under the skin. For such an ambitious goal, a radically new approach is needed.

Arash Ajoudani

Arash Ajoudani

ERC Starting Grant 2019-2024


Ergo-Lean aims to study human ergonomics during complex human-robot-environment interactions, and investigate methods to anticipate the effect of worker actions in the short, middle and long term. It explores the potential of collaborative robotics technology to deliver an original set of anticipatory behaviours that contribute to the improvement of human physical factors during interaction.



Francesco Di Stasio

ERC Starting Grant 2020-2024


This project will develop methods for fabricating light-emitting diodes, with micrometric or lower dimensions, able to generating single photon in a controlled manner, to be applied in future quantum technologies.

Ilka Kriegel

ERC Starting Grant 2020-2024


The project aims for an innovative solution to directly store the solar energy in a new type of nanomaterial, based on nanocrystals and two-dimensional materials. The new solution will change the way solar energy is stored, even when it is present in a discontinuous way, and to be released to power electronic devices.

Velia Siciliano

ERC Starting Grant 2020-2025

Synthetic T-rEX

The project combines biotechnology with medicine to enhance immunotherapies based on the use of genetically modified T cells, the so called CAR-T cells. CAR-T cells, which are currently used for the treatment of blood cancers and which have also being tested for solid tumors, in some cases may lose their effectiveness, becoming exhausted.

Giancarlo Ruocco/Irene Bozzoni/Gian Gaetano Tartaglia

ERC Synergy Grant 2020-2026


The project, which is the result of a collaboration between Sapienza University and the Italian Institute of Technology, will focus on understanding the molecular causes of neurodegenerative pathologies, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. 

Michele Tamagnone

ERC Starting Grant 2021-2026


The project will explore the use of a new nanofabrication method to achieve structures with sizes in the order of few nanometers to less than one nanometer based on 2D materials to create devices such as modulators and with unprecedented performances in terms of speed (reaching modulation bandwidths beyond 100 GHz) and miniaturization.

Francesca Santoro

ERC Starting Grant 2021-2026


The project aims to upgrade to the next level biohybrid devices to couple biological neuronal networks to organic artificial neurons.

Monica Gori

ERC Starting Grant 2021-2025


The project aims to identify the specific developmental periods when visual experience is crucial in establishing multisensory associations between vision and other modalities and how this process is affected in blind children and adolescents.

Under Negotiation

Ferruccio Pisanello

ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2020

Annamaria Petrozza

ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2020

Giacomo Novembre

ERC Starting Grant 2020

Barbara Mazzolai

ERC Consolidator Grant 2020

Andrea Toma

ERC Consolidator Grant 2020

More projects have been won by Valentina Cauda, Iwan Moreels and Stefano Palagi respectively:


  • 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.
  • ERC Starting Grant 2020 won by Stefano Palagi. The project is hosted by another research institute.