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The European Research Council (ERC) said it was “no reason for concern” that the proportion of female recipients of its prestigious Advanced Grants has fallen for the first time in seven years.

The new grants, worth almost €652 million (£558 million) in funding, are among the European Union’s most competitive.

The ERC said that the 2023 funding round will be shared out between 255 “outstanding research leaders”, giving them the opportunity to pursue ambitious, curiosity-driven projects that could lead to major scientific breakthroughs.

Of this year’s grants, 195 (76.5 per cent) went to male applicants and 60 (23.5 per cent) to female researchers – down from a peak of 27.5 per cent the year before.

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