Have you already received an ERC grant for your frontier research project and now want to explore the commercial or societal potential of your work? The ERC Proof of Concept Grant could be for you.
Who can apply?
All Principal Investigators in one of the ERC frontier research main grants (Starting, Consolidator, Advanced or Synergy) are eligible to participate and apply for an ERC Proof of Concept Grant. Principal Investigators in an ongoing main grant, or Principal Investigators in a main grant that has ended less than 12 months before 1 January 2023, are eligible to apply.
The Principal Investigator must be able to demonstrate the relation between the idea to be taken to proof of concept and the ERC frontier research project (Starting, Consolidator, Advanced or Synergy) in question.
A Principal Investigator may submit only one application per call.
A maximum of three Proof of Concept Grants may be awarded per main grant project, except for Synergy Grant, in which case a maximum of six Proof of Concept Grants may be awarded per ERC funded project.
Synergy Grant Principal Investigators are eligible to apply only with the written consent of all Principal Investigators in the same Synergy Grant project.
What proposals are eligible?
The ERC Proof of Concept funding is made available only to those who already have an ERC award to establish proof of concept of an idea that was generated in the course of their ERC-funded projects.
Frontier research often generates radically new ideas that drive innovation and business inventiveness and tackle societal challenges. The ERC PoC Grants aim at facilitating exploration of the commercial and social innovation potential of ERC funded research and are therefore available only to PIs whose proposals draw substantially on their ERC funded research.
Proof of Concept Grants aim at maximising the value of the excellent research that the ERC funds, by funding further work (i.e. activities which were not scheduled to be funded by the original ERC frontier research grant) to verify the innovation potential of ideas arising from ERC funded projects.
The objective is to enable ERC-funded ideas to progress on the path from ground-breaking research towards innovation.
Proof of Concept Grant would help among others:
- testing, experimenting, demonstrating and validating the idea;
- conducting research required to carry out the above activities and to address the weaknesses uncovered by them;
- establishing viability, technical issues and overall direction;
- clarifying IPR protection or knowledge transfer strategy;
- involving industrial partners, societal or cultural organisations, policymakers or any other potential stakeholder supporting the translation of research results into innovation;
- assessing potential “end users” of the expected innovation.
The Host Institution must engage the Principal Investigator for at least the duration of the Proof of Concept project.
The Host Institution must either be established in an EU Member State or Associated Country (AC) as a legal entity created under national law, or it may be an International European Interest Organisation (such as CERN, EMBL, etc.), the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) or any other entity created under EU law.
International organisations with headquarters in an EU Member State or AC will be deemed to be established in this Member State or AC. Any type of legal entity, public or private, including universities, research organisations and undertakings can host PIs and their teams. The ERC welcomes applications from PIs hosted by private for-profit research centres, including industrial laboratories.
The PI can submit the PoC proposal with a different HI than the one where the ERC main frontier research grant is currently (or was) implemented, provided that this other HI complies with the eligibility criteria described in the Work programme.
Work Programme 2023 will continue to award Proof of Concept Grants on the basis of a lump sum of EUR 150 000 for a period of 18 months.
The ERC expects that normally Proof of Concept activities should be completed within 12 months. However, to allow for those projects that require more preparation time, the grant agreements will be signed for 18 months. Extensions of the duration of Proof of Concept projects may be granted only exceptionally.
How to apply?
Applications can be submitted at any time from the opening date of the chosen call until the specified submission deadline.
For an ERC Proof of Concept grant application to be complete, it needs to include the administrative form, the proposal (part B) and the supplementary documents (Host Institution binding statement of support and if applicable ethics self-assessment, additional ethics documentation and letters of support or intent from the relevant stakeholders). The completed proposal should be submitted by the specified submission deadline of the chosen call.
Calls are published on this page, the European Commission’s Funding and Tenders Portal and in the Official Journal of the European Union.
How does the evaluation process work?
The Proof of Concept projects to be funded will have arisen from scientifically excellent ERC-funded research that has already been subject to rigorous peer review.
The Proof of Concept Grant is evaluated based on the sole criterion of excellence, which comprises the following three evaluation elements:
- Breakthrough innovation potential: Proposals will have to demonstrate that the proposed Proof of Concept activity has the potential to drive innovation and business inventiveness and/or tackle societal challenges, and that the proposed expected outcomes are innovative or distinctive compared to existing solutions.
- Approach and methodology: The proposed Proof of Concept activities and planning are feasible within the proposed timescales and resources , and are appropriate and effective to explore the pathway from ground-breaking research towards innovation.
- Principal Investigator - strategic lead and project management: The Principle Investigator needs to demonstrate a clear vision on how to organise the management of the project, the consolidation of information and data needed to take strategic decisions and implement the proposed plan, including risk and contingency measures.
Proof of Concept calls have a single-stage submission and single-step evaluation procedure.
External independent experts will evaluate independently each admissible and eligible proposal and mark it as “very good”, “good” or “fail” for each of the three evaluation elements. In order to be considered for funding, proposals will have to be awarded a pass mark (”very good” or “good”) by a majority of the experts on each of the three evaluation elements.
A Seal of Excellence will be awarded to proposals that have received a pass mark in all three of the evaluation elements set out in this Work Programme, but cannot be funded due to lack of budget available to the call. See all evaluation panels
Interested to learn more?
Watch our instructional video describing the grant application and evaluation process, step by step.