If, as a young scientist, you're interested in making the transition from working under a supervisor to becoming and independent investigator, the ERC is here to help. ERC Starting Grants are designed to encourage young talented research leader to gain independence in Europe and to build their own careers. The scheme targets promising researchers who have the proven potential of becoming independent research leaders.
ERC Starting Grants in brief
- Eligibility: researchers of any nationality with 2-7 years of experience since completion of PhD (extensions are possible– see the latest ERC Work Programme for details), a scientific track record showing great promise and an excellent research proposal
- Location: research must be conducted in a public or private research organisation (known as a Host Institution/HI). It could be the HI where the applicant already works, or any other HI located in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries
- Funding per grant: up to € 1.5 million
- Duration: up to 5 years
- Sole evaluation criterion: scientific excellence of researcher and research proposal
- Calls for proposals: published once a year
For research talents with proven potential only
Applicants for the ERC Starting Grants - called Principal Investigators (PI) - must have already shown the potential for research independence and evidence of maturity.
For example, by having produced at least one important publication without the participation of their PhD supervisor.
Applicants should also be able to demonstrate a promising track-record of early achievements appropriate to their research field and career stage, including significant publications (as main author) in major international peer-reviewed multidisciplinary scientific journals, or in the leading international peer-reviewed journals of their respective field.
They may also demonstrate a record of invited presentations in well-established international conferences, granted patents, awards, prizes etc.
Attractive long-term funding
Normally grants will be € 1.5 million for a period of 5 years (pro rata for projects of shorter duration). However, an additional € 0.5 million can be made available to cover eligible “start-up” costs for researchers moving from a third country to the EU or an associated country and/or the purchase of major equipment and/or access to large facilities.
An ERC grant can cover up to 100% of the total eligible direct costs of the research plus a contribution of 25% of the total eligible costs towards indirect costs.
Grants are awarded to the host institution with the explicit commitment that this institution offers appropriate conditions for the Principal Investigator independently to direct the research and manage its funding for the duration of the project.
Any type of legal entity, including universities, research centres and undertakings can host the PI and his/her team. Legally the host institution must be based in one of the EU Member States, or one of the associated countries.
The PI does not necessarily need to be working at the host institution at the time when the proposal is submitted. However, a mutual agreement and the host institution’s commitment on how the relationship will be established are necessary, should the proposal be successful.
See also 'Host Institution' for a map of all current ERC host institutions.
In the hands of distinguished peers
Proposals are evaluated by selected international peer reviewers evaluate proposals on the basis of excellence as the sole criterion. It will be applied to the evaluation of both the research project and the Principal Investigator in conjunction.
Peer reviewers are in charge of assessing and scoring the proposals. Those who pass the quality threshold are ranked. Depending on the call budget available, a budgetary cut-off applies to the ranking list and only the highest ranked proposals are offered an ERC grant until the call's budget has been used.
See also 'Evaluation panels' for more information.
ERC grants support projects carried out by an individual researcher ('Principal Investigator') who can employ researchers of any nationality as team members. It is also possible to have one or more team members located in a non-European country.
Vacancies for team members interested in joining an ERC led research project, can be published on the Euraxess-Jobs portal.
Initiatives, under the form of 'Implementing Arrangements', exist for ERC-funded teams in Europe to host non-European talented scientists. Find out more about the agreements.