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For 2012 the ERC has introduced the 'Synergy Grant', which is intended to enable a small group of Principal Investigators and their teams to bring together complementary skills, knowledge, and resources in new ways, in order to jointly address research problems.
ERC Synergy Grants in brief
- Research proposal: pioneering frontier research in any field of science, engineering or scholarship
- Groups applying for the ERC Synergy Grant must be made up of a minimum of two and a maximum of four Principal Investigators (PIs) and, as necessary, their teams
- One of the PIs acts as the 'Corresponding PI' with the ERCEA on behalf of the group
- No specific eligibility criteria are foreseen for PIs applying for the ERC Synergy Grants, but only exceptional proposals are likely to be funded in what are expected to be extremely competitive calls
- It is expected that in most cases ERC Synergy Groups will be interdisciplinary, often using multidisciplinary approaches. However this is not a requirement and colleagues from the same or similar disciplines bringing together complementary approaches, expertise and resources can apply
- Similarly Synergy Groups are not required to be co-located but the PIs in the group will have to demonstrate their commitment to the group project including willingness to spend significant 'core time' together at the same physical location
- The Host Institution that engages the Corresponding Principal Investigator for the duration of the grant should be a legally recognised public or private research organisation situated in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries
- Funding: up to a maximum of €15 million for a period up to 6 years (pro rata for projects of shorter duration)
- Calls for proposals: published annually with one deadline (Notice regarding Call for Proposals 2014)
The aim is to promote substantial advances in the frontier of knowledge, and to encourage new productive lines of enquiry and new methods and techniques, including unconventional approaches and investigations at the interface between established disciplines.
The peer review evaluation will therefore look for proposals that demonstrate the synergies, complementarities and added value that could lead to breakthroughs that would not be possible by the individual Principal Investigators working alone.
Attractive long-term funding
Depending on the specific project and field, ERC Synergy Grants can be up to a maximum of €15 million for a period of up to six years (covering up to 100% of the direct project costs and a contribution corresponding to 20% of the direct costs towards indirect costs).
How will proposals be assessed?
Scientific excellence, being the sole criterion to assess and select proposals, will apply to the evaluation of both the Principal Investigators and their research project.
A single submission of an ERC Synergy Grant proposal will be followed by a two-step peer review evaluation. However, the evaluation process differs from the ERC Advanced and Starting Grants and also includes interviews.
The ERC Synergy Grant uses a panel-based system, similar to the ERC Starting and Advanced Grants. In step 1, the evaluation is conducted by five high level peer review panels of approximately 10 experts each, while in step 2, a single panel of around 15 experts will continue the proposals evaluation. In step 1, the panels are supported in the individual assessment of proposals by independent experts as necessary.
The names of the Peer Reviewers will be published by the ERC Scientific Council after the conclusion of the evaluation process.