Science|Business has a long chat with Fotis C. Kafatos, the president of the European Research Council, about how the young funding agency is doing and his hopes that it will relatively soon have a budget approaching the $30 billion or so that the U.S. National Institutes of Health spends annually. That's ambitious given that the ERC has a budget of just around $1 billion this year.
Here's Kafatos comparing the ERC to an airplane:
“We are now in flight,” he said. “In the first call (for grants in 2007) we were on the runway. We were testing our engines, as we were about to take off. We did take off in the second year and now we are quite confident that we can ramp up to the larger budget and operate on the appropriate scale. The directorate of the Commission, that was entrusted with implementing the strategic decisions of the ERC Scientific Council, has been transformed now into a 400-people executive agency that will be able to handle the calls when the numbers become significantly higher.”