Looking for one thing: finding another
Did you know that the Persian fairy tale “The Three Princes of Serendip” provided the inspiration for the first noted use of the word “serendipity” in the English language? In this story, the heroes are always making happy and surprising discoveries. Serendipity is indeed defined as the occurrence of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. The meaning for ERC grantees is rather simple: innovation isn't always where you look for it. Sometimes, breakthroughs in a field can come from research in an entirely different domain. This was the case of penicillin, the internet and even the everyday microwave. For the ERC, it's important for grants to provide sufficient flexibility for grantees to follow serendipitous discoveries wherever they may occur, without limiting their creativity and curiosity, and following their instinct for promising ideas. What started off with a fairy tale, ended up as a byword for an influential idea in research policy-making and even headlining a recent ERC-funded project.
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