First president of the ERC Fotis Kafatos, former director-general of UNESCO Federico Mayor and European Commissioner Janez Potocnik all received the award, which ACER president and Director of ICFO Lluis Torner described as a way to “honour and appreciate people who have used their excellence and influence to help others”. He outlined how the winners all contributed to the ERC’s founding and development into the crucial and prestigious research funding body that it is today: Mayor by chairing the early ERC Expert Group, which described how the ERC might take shape; Commissioner Potocnik by supporting it through the European Parliament; and Kafatos with his presidency of the newly-formed council.
ERC Vice-President Prof Núria Sebastián Gallés summed up the appreciation of the winners by saying “If this was California, they would be making a movie about these three. They are true heroes of science”. The Keynote lecture at the ceremony, which was held at La Pedrera, was given by Nobel Prize-winning climate change scientist and ex-US Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu.