The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. It funds creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based across Europe.
The overall ERC budget from 2021 to 2027 is more than €16 billion, as part of the Horizon Europe programme, under the responsibility of the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel.
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, based on scientific excellence.
Being 'investigator-driven', or 'bottom-up', in nature, the ERC approach allows researchers to identify new opportunities and directions in any field of research, rather than led by priorities set by politicians. This ensures that funds flow into new and promising areas of research with a greater degree of flexibility.
By challenging Europe's brightest minds, the ERC expects that its grants will help to bring about new and unpredictable scientific and technological discoveries - the kind that can form the basis of new industries, markets, and broader social innovations of the future.
Ultimately, the ERC aims to make the European research base more prepared to respond to the needs of a knowledge-based society and provide Europe with the capabilities in frontier research necessary to meet global challenges.
Structure and Governance
The ERC is composed of an independent Scientific Council, its governing body consisting of distinguished researchers, and an Executive Agency, in charge of implementation.
The Scientific Council governs the ERC, and is responsible for setting the ERC's scientific strategy.
It consists of 22 eminent scientists and scholars. On behalf of the scientific community in Europe, the Scientific Council acts to promote creativity and innovative research.
The European Commission appoints the members, on the recommendations of an independent Identification Committee. The term of office of the members of the Scientific Council is four years, renewable once.
The Chair of the Scientific Council is the President of the ERC and the formal representative of the ERC to the European Commission and other bodies.
Maria Leptin took office as the President of the ERC from 1 November 2021.
The ERC Vice-Presidents are Eveline Crone (Social Sciences and Humanities), Andrzej Jajszczyk (Physical sciences and Engineering) and Nektarios Tavernarakis (Life Sciences).
ERC Executive Agency
The ERC Executive Agency (ERCEA), implements the ERC strategy as set by the Scientific Council, and is in charge of the day-to-day grant administration.
It is responsible for executing the annual work programme, implementing calls for proposals, providing information and support to applicants, organising peer review evaluation, establishing and managing grant agreements, providing assistance to the ERC Scientific Council and communicating about the ERC.
Laurence Moreau is the Director of the ERCEA since June 2022.
The ERC Board ensures the effective link between the 2 constituents of the ERC, namely the Scientific Council and the ERC Executive Agency. It prepares the plenary meetings of the Scientific Council and serves as platform for exchange of information and ideas.
It is composed of 5 members: the ERC President, the 3 Vice-Presidents and the Director of the ERC Executive Agency.
ERCEA Steering Committee
The ERCEA Steering Committee is the body that supervises the operations of the ERCEA. It adopts the agency's annual work programmes, administrative budget and annual reports.
It is composed of 5 members and 2 observers:
- Signe Ratso, Acting Director-General DG RTD, Directorate General for Research and Innovation (Chair)
- Joanna Drake, Deputy-Director-General DG RTD, Implementation, Impact and Sustainable Investment Strategies (Vice-Chair)
- Matthias Will, Director, Common Implementation Centre, DG RTD
- Kurt Mehlhorn, Member of the ERC Scientific Council
- Milena Žic Fuchs, Member of the ERC Scientific Council
- Maria Leptin, President of the European Research Council (Observer)
- Marco Umberto Moricca, Director, Careers and Staff Development, DG HR (Observer)
The European Commission appoints the members of the Steering Committee for a (renewable) period of 2 years.
- Budget: € 16 billion (2021-2027) - 17% of the overall Horizon Europe budget
- Since 2007, ERC funded more than 12 000 projects and over 10 000 researchers. It evaluated more than 100 000 research proposals.
- Each ERC grantee employs on average 7 team members. Currently over 75 000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff are working in their research teams.
- ERC projects have so far led to over 2 200 patents and other IPR applications and ERC grantees founded or co-founded over 400 start-ups
- More than 200 000 articles published in scientific journals
- 12 Nobel Prizes, 6 Fields Medals, 11 Wolf Prizes and dozens of important prizes awarded to ERC grantees
- Over 850 research institutions are hosting ERC grantees with more than 85 nationalities of grant