To Professor Phoebe Koundouri, Athens University of Economics and Business the prestigious ERC Synergy Grant

Press Release

To Professor Phoebe Koundouri, Athens University of Economics and Business the prestigious ERC Synergy Grant


Greece secures the competitive Synergy Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). This is the first ERC Grant won by an Economics Researcher in a Greek University!

The Athens University of Economics and Business has secured the highly competitive ERC Synergy Grant program for the research project “Water-Futures”, worth a total of 10 million euros, with one of the four main researchers of the project, Professor Phoebe Koundouri, School of Economics, Director of Resees, Research Laboratory on Socio-Economic and Environmental Sustainability and President-elect European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.

The Athens University of Economics and Business is pleased to announce winning the highly competitive ERC Synergy Grant for the “Water-Futures” research project. This ERC Synergy Grant and the first ERC Grant in Greece including research in Economics. The research grant for the “Water-Futures” proposal from the European Union, amounts to a total of 10 million euros.

The ERC’s mission is to encourage the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and to support investigator-driven frontier research across all fields. The sole criterion for selection is scientific excellence. The aim here is to recognize the best ideas and confer status and visibility on the best brains in Europe, while also attracting talent from abroad.

ERC grants are one among the most prestigious research grants in the world.  ERCgranteeshavereceivedsevenNobelPrizes.

In the ERC Synergy 2020 program, out of the 440 proposals submitted, 34 research teams were selected to be funded for an equal number of research projects, which aim to address important problems that concern the world and that extend to many scientific disciplines.

On this occasion, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “The selected projects are excellent examples of bold scientific thinking. Many of these endeavours will tackle pressing issues in specific areas such as health, the environment and climate. Others will push the frontiers of knowledge, creating new opportunities in ways that we cannot fully predict today. I’m proud that the EU, while taking firm action to tackle the immediate challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, is also continuing to invest in our long-term future by supporting these exceptional researchers. By taking the long view, we are strengthening Europe’s position as a global research powerhouse.”

The President of the ERC, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, commented: “The ERC Scientific Council devised the Synergy Grants to offer a space where ambitious researchers could join forces to tackle multifaceted scientific challenges. Each of the new teams is aiming at nothing less than an important breakthrough. I am especially glad to see that so many European laureates look further afield to involve top scientists and scholars working in North and South America, Australia and Japan. Not only can this enrich ERC-funded projects, but it also gives a new dimension to global research cooperation involving European teams.”

The subsidized project, entitled “Smart Water Futures: Designing the Next Generation of Urban Drinking Water Systems” and the acronym “Water-Futures” is a collaboration between four internationally recognized researchers and their teams: Professor Marios Polykarpou of the University of Cyprus, who is also the Project Coordinator, Professor Barbara Hammer of Bielefeld University in Germany, Professor Phoebe Koundouri of the Athens University of Economics and Business in Greece, and Professor Dragan Savić of the KWR Water Research Institute in the Netherlands.

Prof. Phoebe Koundouri stated on the occasion of this important distinction: “The ERC grant is one of the most prestigious scientific distinctions for a researcher and his/her academic institution. I am proud that we were able to bring such a distinction to Greece. Our ambition is to produce interdisciplinary research with a strong scientific impact and social footprint.”

Smart Water Futures: Designing the Next Generation of Urban Drinking Water Systems (WaterFutures)

United Nations predicts that by 2050, 70% of the Earth’s population will be living in cities because of ongoing astyphilia. This will be a very big challenge and will put a significant strain on water supply systems and water supply organizations. Traditionally, changes and improvements in the infrastructure of water distribution networks have been made mainly when cities had to deal with a crisis or some urgent needs and were rarely the result of proper planning. Urban water supply designers could not predict in the long run those uncertain and dubious factors that would affect urban development and their actual water supply needs.

The key question, according to the experienced and interdisciplinary team of scientists in the project, is, “how can the provision of high quality water supply services be achieved in the future, given the climatic, economic and population pressures, as well as the deep uncertainty that characterizes them?” »

The Water-Futures project aims to develop a theoretical framework for decision-making and promotion of urban water supply systems. The main goal is to make these systems socially equitable, cost-effective and environmentally sound, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. These next-generation water systems will use new technologies to integrate real-time monitoring and control, with long-term robustness and flexibility.

The results of the “Water-Futures” project will provide the theoretical and practical basis to enable various stakeholders, policy makers and administrators of these systems to make socially acceptable and fair decisions, which will balance short-term decisions. taken algorithmically in real time, together with long-term decisions concerning the transition and planning of new infrastructure for the evolution of urban water distribution systems. In addition, the new scientific results will be applied to three exemplary studies presenting different types of systems: a mature and relatively stable system in the Netherlands, a mature and rapidly growing system in Cyprus and a relatively recent supply system in Mexico with high growth and specific challenges. , which contain limited resources, intermittent supply and significant water loss due to leaks.

Please read the Press Release below in both English and Greek

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