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Q: Should a Synergy proposal for the ERC funding (ERC-2019-SyG) be only a successful collaboration?
A:

Not only. The ultimate goal of the ERC Synergy (SyG) scheme is to allow for a close and genuine collaborative interaction that will enable transformative research at the forefront of science, capable of yielding unpredictable and ground-breaking scientific results and/or cross-fertilizing disciplines, leading to a result that is more than just the sum of Principal Investigators (PIs)' individual contributions.

More information about the ERC-2019-SYG Grant Call is available in the ERC Work Programme 2019 and the Information for Applicants to the Synergy Grant 2019 Call.

Q: How is synergy defined in an ERC Synergy grant (ERC-SyG-2019)?
A:

The term 'Synergy' cannot be defined in one single way. Synergy projects should generally involve composite teams that are capable of tackling bold new research themes that require novel approaches and unique fusions of researchers. Such teams are typically characterised by exceptional combinations of knowledge and skills, in which the 2,3 or 4 Principal Investigators hold a central role. Synergy projects require continuous interlinking, feedbacks and integration amongst the different research teams. A Synergy project could incorporate novel multi- or trans-disciplinary approaches or innovative combinations of knowledge and skills in a single discipline or research field. Each Synergy proposal must demonstrate that its objectives can only be achieved through the specific combination of knowledge and skills brought together by the participating PIs. In other words, a major scientific question of pressing significance, an integrated team and the transformative scientific potential are crucial elements in conceiving a Synergy proposal.

More information about the ERC-2019-SYG Grant Call is available in the Information for Applicants to the Synergy Grant 2019 Call.

Q: According to the conditions of the ERC Starting Grant 2019 call, how does the ERC treat the request to extend the eligibility time-window in the case of clinical training?
A:

For clinical training, the effective elapsed time since the award of the first PhD [for applicants whose first eligible degree is their MD such incidents can be considered from the date of the completion of their MD degree] will be considered reduced by the documented amount of clinical training actually received by the Principal Investigator after the award of the first eligible degree, and by up to 4 years maximum.

In case of part-time clinical training, the exact total training time will be calculated pro-rata to extend the eligibility window. Documented clinical training that has taken place between the award of the first eligible degree and the call deadline can be used to extend the eligibility window up to 4 years maximum.

Clinical training should be documented by an official signed testimonial from the employer indicating the start and end date of the training and preferably also the work pattern (full-time or part-time training).

Q: Are the open access related rules that apply to ERC grantee any different from those that apply to researchers funded under the rest of Horizon 2020?
A:

Indeed, although most of the rules applicable to other researchers funded under Horizon 2020 also apply in the same way to researchers funded by the ERC, there are a number of differences. In particular, in the case of the ERC the open access obligations described in Article 29.2 of the Model Grant Agreement apply not only to articles in scientific journals, but also to long-text publications such as monographs, edited volumes, or book chapters.

An overview of the open access related rules for ERC funded researchers can be found on the ERC website. Note that Article 29.2 of the ERC Model Grant Agreement is slightly different from the corresponding article in the general Horizon 2020 Model Grant Agreement. Details on the application of the article to ERC grants can be found in the ERC specific part of the Annotated Model Grant Agreement.

Q: Under FP7, what are eligible costs for ERC grants?
A:

Generally, costs are eligible if they are incurred during the lifetime of the project and provided that they are in line with the requirements for direct costs as listed in Article II.14 of the General Conditions of the ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary). Costs must be actual, incurred by the beneficiary and according to the usual accounting and management principles and practices of the beneficiary. They must also be identifiable and verifiable.

For more information, see also the rules of the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues.

 

In FP7 ERC grants, the following costs are eligible under certain conditions:

 

- Travel and subsistence allowances:Should the Host Institution use flat rates for the daily subsistence costs, in accordance with the above mentioned rules and if allowed in the respective Work Programme, this should be mentioned in the Description of Work to be considered eligible.

- Meals (lunch/evening) during travels:

If the team member already received a daily allowance for travel expenses from the Host Institution, meals are considered to be covered by this allowance; hence they are not considered eligible.However, if the general practice of the Host Institution is to reimburse costs separately, upon presentation of a receipt, and if costs do not constitute reckless or excessive spending, they can be claimed as direct costs.

- Recruitment of a replacement for a team member on parental leave:

While recruitment costs would generally be covered by the overheads, in the light of ERC's specificity some recruitment costs may be accepted as direct eligible costs if they are: justified, part of the general practice of the Host Institution, clearly attributable to the project, and in line with the general requirements.

 

- Maintenance and repair of equipment, of failures due to the general usage of the equipment:

Any services or other costs related to certain equipment, such as delivery, handling, installation, maintenance or repair of items that are not covered by separate subcontracts, are part of equipment purchase and can be charged accordingly. In case of a separate subcontract for specific services (after-sales service, maintenance), the general rules for subcontracting apply.

 

- Purchase of spare parts:

Spare parts are eligible for funding as long as they meet the general eligibility criteria for consumables.

 

- Payments for patent applications:

Intellectual property activities such as the process of applying for a patent, if complying with all general eligibility requirements are direct eligible costs.

- Travel and other costs for experts and regular visitors: Reimbursement of travel expenses for experts who are not employed by the Host Institution may be considered direct eligible costs to the extent that the general requirements for direct costs are fulfilled and that the participation of these experts/visitors is duly foreseen in the Description of Work.

 

- Scientific text books:

For these costs to be considered eligible, the link between scientific text books and the ERC project needs to be demonstrated for the purchase of these books. Funding must be used for the sole purpose of achieving the objectives of the project and its expected results, in a manner consistent with the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

 

- Translation costs:

Translation costs are not the same as publishing costs and should be included under subcontracting if the translation is to be done by an organisation or person external to the beneficiary.If, however, a set of translators is working directly on the core research funded by the project and under direct instructions and supervision of the Principal Investigator, the costs concerned can be considered as personnel costs under the ERC grant.

- Climate compensation fees in addition to travel/ticket cost:

If by climate compensation fee is meant a sort of ecological tax that is identifiable on the invoice, it is not an eligible cost. However, if the payment of this fee is required by an institution to be paid for every plane ride, they can be eligible if:1/ This cost is an airport tax, which is an ecological charge applicable to all the tickets and mandatory under national legislation. It lies in the responsibility of the beneficiary to prove the "non-tax" nature of the "charge"; or2/ If it is included in the overall price and thereof not identifiable, i.e. it is part of the airline ticket.

 

- Costs charged by journal publishers for the provision of immediate open access to publications (article processing charges - APCs):

These costs are eligible if they are incurred during the lifetime of the project and provided that they are in line with the general requirements for all direct costs.

 

In case the journal tallows 'green open access' with an embargo period of six months, but "gold open access" is chosen resulting in an article processing charge (ACP), the cost is still eligible provided that they have been incurred during the lifetime of the project and that they are in line with the general rules for eligibility of direct costs as described in the Grant Agreement.If 'gold open access' is chosen, the publication must still be deposited in a repository for scientific publications and open access must be provided immediately to that deposited version (no embargo period).

 

In case there are several authors, there is no requirement to split open access related costs between the authors. If the costs have been incurred during the lifetime of the project and they are in line with the general requirements for direct costs, then they are eligible in full, regardless of the number of co-authors. However, grantees should consider whether it would be appropriate to ask other authors for a contribution to the costs.

 

If a former team member of an ERC project publishes an article based on his/her work related to the project and wants to provide immediate open access to it by paying an article processing charge to the publisher, this cost can be considered an eligible cost if it incurred during the lifetime of the project and provided that it is in line with the general requirements for direct costs.

 

- Open access fees for monographs:

These costs are eligible if they are incurred during the lifetime of the project and provided that they are in line with the general requirements for direct costs.

 

- Attendance at Conference Costs:Normally researchers participating in a conference are expected to play an active part, e.g. present a paper or a poster.  As well as the usual documents needed to support the costs claimed (purchase orders, invoices and payment (conference, travel and hotel) and evidence of payments), an auditor would expect to see conference registration and conference agenda with names and roles. 

As a best practice it is recommended that a small note is produced by the researcher describing his/her role and the link to the project.

 

 - Costs for management of the project:

Management costs directly linked to the project and respecting the general eligibility criteria can be considered as direct eligible costs.See also Article 33.4 of the FP7 Rules of participation.

However, management costs such as administrative, technical or logistical costs are cross-cutting costs for all operations of the beneficiary and cannot be attributed in full to the project. These costs should be covered by the 20% flat rate of indirect costs.

- Membership fees of society publisher:

If the net effect of taking out a membership in the society is a reduction in the cost of the article processing charges (APCs) that is higher than the cost of the membership fee, then the membership fee (for the year concerned) is an eligible cost, provided that it is in line with the general requirements for direct costs.

 

- Costs for the deposit of research data in an open access data repository (run by an external organization):

Yes, these costs are eligible if they generated or collected as part of an ERC project and provided that they are in line with the general requirements for direct costs.

 

- Consumables for people formally not paid by an ERC grant (e.g. undergraduate students) :

They are eligible as long as they can be attributed directly to a project and are identifiable by the Host Institution as such, in accordance with its accounting principles and its general internal rules (i.e. there is a proven track record of each consumed amount).

 

- Redundancy payments:

Employment-related costs and termination/redundancy payments are considered eligible costs as long as they are in accordance with the usual accounting practice of the beneficiary, are fair and justified and recognised by national law. It is the Host Institution's duty to foresee possible project changes and include corresponding provisions in the (employment) contract. The ERCEA will examine each case individually.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, can the Principal Investigator sign timesheets for him/herself?
A:

A Principal Investigator should not validate his/her own timesheet because the person validating a timesheet should have an independent view of the work of the Principal Investigator within the Host Institution (e.g. the Principal Investigator's hierarchical superior).

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, does the Principal Investigator need to dedicate an equal proportion of his/her working time each year to the project?
A:

Under FP7, the Principal Investigator is not obliged to spend an equal amount of his/her working time each year on the project, as long as the distribution is in line with achieving the scientific objectives of the project. However, ERCEA encourages an even distribution throughout the duration of the project. Any special time arrangements need to be agreed with the ERCEA beforehand.Timesheets or other means of proof must reflect the actual productive hours spent on the project.

Q: In FP7 (ERC), if the Host Institution requests the reimbursement of the Principal Investigator's salary for less time that s(he) actually spent on the project, should the timesheet reflect the hours to be charged or the actual hours worked on the grant?
A:

In FP7, the Host Institution cannot charge more costs than the reimbursement for the time the Principal Investigator actually worked on the project, but it can charge less.

In such a case, timesheets should record the actual hours worked on the project for auditing purposes but it should be made clear in the breakdown table or in the explanatory text of the financial report that total actual hours worked were X but the charged hours are only X-Y.The hourly rate should be calculated based on the total hours (and not only based on the charged hours).

In brief, time charged to the project can always be less (but not more) than indicated in the timesheets.

Q: Under FP7, if a Principal Investigator's salary is not charged to the ERC grant, is (s)he expected to keep time records?
A:

Although in principle Principal Investigators do not need to keep time records if their salary is not charged to an FP7 ERC grant, they should be able to provide evidence of their compliance with the time commitment requirements provided in the corresponding Work Programme (see ERC Work Programmes here).

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, is the use of timesheets mandatory?
A:

In FP7, costs of actual hours worked should be substantiated by a time recording system or by alternative evidence providing the same level of reliability as to the reality, accuracy and completeness of the information provided, to allow auditors to verify the financial reports.If a person works 100% on a project and has a contract to this effect, in the absence of timesheets, other appropriate and sufficient alternative evidence to support the declared work arrangements should be provided, provided that it is compliant with the usual practices of the beneficiary.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, is there a minimum time to be spent on the office premises by the staff recruited for the project so that staff costs are eligible?
A:

For FP7 projects, the time necessary to be spent in the office by the staff recruited for the project depends on the rules of the Host Institution and the applicable national legislation. However, according to Article II.15.1 of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreements (Single and Multi-Beneficiary), only the costs of the actual hours worked by the persons directly carrying out work under the project can be charged.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, can expenses linked to the recruitment of project staff (such as relocation expenses, advertising and travel costs to interviews) be considered as recruitment costs?
A:

In principle, it is expected from the host institutions to have the human resources necessary for the action at the start of the project.However, for ERC grants in FP7, recruitment costs may be eligible as direct costs.

To be eligible, expenses linked to the recruitment of project staff have to be in line with the general management practice and rules of the Host Institution/beneficiary and comply with the eligibility criteria of Article II.14 of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary), being directly traceable to the ERC project.

Q: Under FP7, can a retired researcher be paid out of an ERC grant? Which form can the payment take?
A:

In FP7, payments for retired researchers can be charged to the project if they are in line with applicable national law and practice, as well as with the specific rules applicable to and in the Host Institution.

Costs must also be compliant with the eligibility criteria of Article II.14 of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary).

The payments should be made via the Human Resources Payroll system.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, how many hours make a person-month?
A:

For ERC projects under FP7, the number of hours that makes a person-month can vary between different Host Institutions.  Beneficiaries must calculate their specific productive hours according to the general practice in the Host Institution.

In case different categories of personnel have different working conditions, individual productive hours may be calculated. For the calculation method and examples, please refer to Part 2 B, section 1 on art.II.15 of ECGA, sub-section 1.(a), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues.The benchmark is 1680 hours based on 210 workable days and a 8 hour working day (Guide to financial issues Part 2B, section 1 on article II.15 of ECGA, sub-section 1.(a.2), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues).

Q: Under FP7, are tuition fees for PhD students working in an ERC project eligible costs?
A:

Academic fees may be due by post-graduate students back to their respective universities. In FP7, sometimes, in cases of work performed by the student for the university, the student may be exempt to pay (part of) the fee. This predetermined income for the university is eligible as personnel cost when there is a labour contract with the student in which the amount is indicated.

The other conditions of Article II.14.1 of the ECGA (Single and Multi-Beneficiary) have to be fulfilled as well.

See also in this regard Part 2B, section 1 on art II.15 ECGA, sub-section 1.(a.4), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues.

Q: Under FP7, which staff/personnel costs are eligible and therefore covered by the ERC Grant Agreement ? In addition, where should these costs be included?
A:

In FP7, the following costs related to the staff/personnel are covered by the ERC Grant Agreement:                                                                                                                                 - Salary of Principal Investigator:

According to Article II.15.1 of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary), the salary costs of the Principal Investigator can be covered by the ERC Grant Agreement. The amount charged can only represent the costs of the actual hours worked by the Principal Investigator on the ERC project (pro-rata to the Principal Investigator's involvement).

- Salary or costs of team members  These costs can  be covered, including for staff of HI   and  from third parties. At the time of the submission of the interim financial reports, costs should be declared for each staff member in the table "breakdown of direct costs" (Annex I to the Grant Agreement).

Any increase of salary (relating to indexations, years of service, steps in grades, increased responsibilities etc.) during the lifetime of a funded project.

However, the maximum contribution to the costs of the project is fixed in the Grant Agreement and cannot be increased (see Article II.18.4 of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement, Single and Multi- Beneficiary, and Part 1 on art. 5.1 of ECGA in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues.

- Stipends/ Scholarships: Typically, a scholarship or stipend has the purpose that the awardee works on its own project. However if the person works on an ERC project, stipends or scholarships may be eligible pro rata provided that:• The stipend/scholarship is paid according to the general management and accounting practices of the Host Institution, which awards the stipend to the student.• The beneficiary has a written agreement with the stipend holder defining the work to be carried out on the ERC project and the amount of the stipend to be paid (letter of engagement, contract, or other official document).• The amount can be attributed directly to the project.• The conditions of the stipend/scholarship meet the general eligibility criteria of Article II.14 and Annex II General conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary).• The stipend/scholarship is not being reimbursed by another party.

- Bonus:Bonuses have to comply with all of the following criteria to be eligible:

  • be provided by internal regulations and/or practices of the organisation (calculation method, category of employees falling under this scheme, maximum amount, etc.);
  • apply to all projects (EU and non-EU projects, national and international) of the same kind; i.e. the bonus must be given to all international (EU and non EU) or to all national projects;
  • not result in a level of remuneration inconsistent with the current market conditions for a worker of the same category/grade/experience;
  • be recorded in the accounts as personnel costs and be subject to taxes and social security charges applicable to salaries or be specifically exempt from such taxes and/or charges;
  • and, finally, bonuses can only be paid as part of the employee's gross remuneration and only be reimbursed pro-rata according to the time spent on the project (e.g. If the researcher works only part of his/her working hours on the project, then only the part of the bonus related to the remuneration charged to the project will be eligible).

The criteria (qualitative or financial targets, research activities carried out, contractor's profitability, etc.) used to calculate the amount of the bonus can be accepted provided they are of general application within the beneficiary's organisation and are objective. 

Q: Under FP7, can projects that have more than one partner institution be funded by an ERC grant?
A:

Yes, in FP7, multi-beneficiary Grant Agreements are possible.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, in case of a change of Host Institution, under which conditions does the Host institution have the right to terminate the Grant Agreement as well as the Supplementary Agreement?
A:

In FP7, if the Principal Investigator permanently moves to a third country which is not associated to FP7 and he/she is no longer in the position to continue leading an ERC funded research project, the Host Institution has the right to terminate the Supplementary Agreement with the  Principal Investigator.

The termination of the Supplementary Agreement compels the Host Institution to initiate the procedure of termination for the Grant Agreement.

The termination remains at the discretion of the ERCEA, following an evaluation of the situation on a case-by-case basis. Alternatives to the termination may be considered.

Q: Under FP7, on what grounds can ERCEA decide to terminate a Grant Agreement?
A:

In FP7, the cases where the ERCEA may terminate the Grant Agreement as per text law are outlined in Article II.35 (Single) and Article II.37 (Multi-Beneficiary) of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, what is the procedure if a Principal Investigator leaves (for whatever reason) the Host Institution?
A:

In FP7, if the Principal Investigator leaves the Host Institution, the participation of the Host Institution in the grant shall be terminated. Articles II.33 (Single) and II.35 (Multi-Beneficiary) of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement are applicable.The Host Institution is strongly advised to contact the ERCEA by sending a request to ERC-C2-AMENDMENTS@ec.europa.eu to receive a tailor made response and further guidance.

Q: Under FP7, what happens if team members do not move to the new Host Institution but remain part of the project team in case an ERC grant is transferred to a new Host Institution?
A:

In FP7, the initial Host Institution can be included in the grant as a second/additional beneficiary or, if the required conditions are met, as a third party carrying out part of the work (Special Clause 30, Article 7 of the ERC Grant Agreement).

In certain cases, a single-beneficiary grant would become a multi- beneficiary grant, in which the new Host Institution would be the principal beneficiary and the initial host an additional beneficiary.

Q: Under FP7, how are costs accounted for if the two Host Institutions have different depreciation practices in case of a change of Host Institution? For instance, what happens to equipment that has been partially financed by an ERC grant?
A:

In FP7, each Host Institution applies its own accounting/depreciation practice (See Part 2B, section 1 on art II.15 of ECGA, sub-section 1.(b), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues).                                                                                                      

In case of equipment purchased for the purposes of carrying out an ERC project, its cost can be charged as a direct cost to the project, according to the beneficiary's usual accounting practice. Depreciation is charged in each relevant periodic report. (See Part 2B, section 1 on art II.15 of ECGA, sub-section 1.(b), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues).Purchased equipment is the property of the Host Institution, irrespective if the whole piece of equipment or only part of it or was financed by the ERC grant.

If there is a change of Host Institution, the initial and the new Host Institutions will need to agree on the terms of transfer of equipment (i.e. the new Host Institution could eventually pay the book value of the equipment to the initial Host Institution).

The VAT on purchased equipment is not considered as an eligible cost for the ERC grant.

From 2012 onwards a Special Clause 40 is included in the grant agreement, in cases when equipment is charged to the ERC project budget. The principles of the Special Clause 40 are:

  • The new Host Institution is to reimburse the initial HI for the non- depreciated costs of transferred equipment.
  • This reimbursement as well as the cost of dismantling / transferring /installing the equipment can be declared by the new Host Institution under conditions of Article II.14 of the ERC GA.

The following criteria should be met in order to include Special Clause 40 in the Grant Agreement:

  • transportability of the equipment;
  • exclusive use for the ERC project;
  • at least one piece of equipment has a significant value/importance.
Q: For ERC projects under FP7, how are the funds transferred if a project is transferred to a new Host Institution and how is the budget determined for the new Host Institution?
A:

In FP7, the initial Host Institution submits a periodic financial report covering the period from the last report prepared for the

The initial Host Institution calculates and, where necessary, estimates the costs incurred until the date of transfer. The remaining funding is distributed between the remaining reporting periods, according to the project needs and taking into account the Description of Work and the usual accounting and management principles of the new Host Institution.

The ERCEA will reimburse the eligible costs of the initial Host Institution as follows:- If the limit of 90% of the maximum Union contribution to the Grant Agreement has not been reached: The full eligible amount will be reimbursed to the initial Host Institution. At the same time the Host Institution is requested to transfer the full amount of the pre-financing received (pre-financing minus the amount transferred to the guarantee fund) to the new Host Institution.- If the limit of 90% of the maximum Union contribution to the Grant Agreement has been reached: Only the costs up to 90% of the maximum Union contribution to the Grant Agreement can be reimbursed to the initial Host Institution. The initial Host Institution has to transfer the remaining balance to the new Host Institution (as per Article II.6.2 of the General Conditions tothe ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary). 

The remaining amount/balance is transferred by the initial Host Institution after the financial report has been assessed by the ERCEA. The initial Host Institution has 30 days from the date of the assessment confirmation/ balance payment by the ERCEA to transfer the EUR amount due to the new Host Institution.

The new Host Institution can claim the costs as of the effective transfer date indicated in the amendment to the Grant Agreement.

Q: Under FP7, if the Principal Investigator's salary was not included in the budget funded by the ERC grant, can it be included at a later stage if the project will be transferred to another Host Institution during its implementation?
A:

Yes, in FP7, the Principal Investigator's salary can be included in the budget of an ERC grant at a later stage. However, the maximum Union financial contribution cannot be increased and a new budget breakdown will be requested during the amendment of change of Host Institution.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, is there a template for the private law agreement between the Host Institutions if an ERC grant is transferred to a different Host Institution?
A:

In FP7, there is no template provided. It is up to the Host Institutions to agree on appropriate private law arrangements. However, the ERCEA will give advice based on its experience with other cases if requested.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, what is meant by 'portability' of a grant?
A:

In FP7, portability means the transfer of the entire project or part of it to a new beneficiary. Like the initial Host Institution, the new Host Institution must comply with the requirements of the Rules for participation and be established under national law in an EU Member State or Associated Country. Exceptions from the establishment requirement apply for the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, for International European interest organisations and for entities created under EU law.

A transfer of the project may happen before signature of the grant agreement or during the implementation of the project.

  • For a transfer of the project proposal before signature of the grant agreement:

The project officer should be informed as indicated in the invitation letter. The change of Host Institution must be formally accepted by the ERCEA.

  • For a transfer of the project during the implementation of the project:

The new and the initial Host Institution will need to agree on the transfer of the project and all the related aspects so that the project can be pursued. The total Union contribution will not be adjusted.The Principal Investigator has to explain the nature and reasons for the move of the project to another institution, as well as the added value of the move to the scientific output of the project or their career.

The initial Host Institution must introduce the request for the amendment of the Grant Agreement by the ERCEA (Articles II.2.d).vii) and II.34.3 (Single Beneficiary) and II.2.3.vii) and II.36.3 (Multi-Beneficiary) of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement).

Once the amendment has been approved, the initial Host Institution must transfer documentation/ foreground and the part of the pre-financing received for the grant, depending on the case, to the new beneficiary.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, is an amendment needed if the contribution/ time commitment of the Principal Investigator changes during the implementation?
A:

In FP7, the need for an amendment of the Grant Agreement is assessed by the ERCEA on a case-by-case basis.

All changes of the Principal Investigator time commitment on the project or/and in total working time spent in an EU Member State or Associated country have to be previously agreed with the ERC Executive Agency. Otherwise there may be a risk for some costs to be declared ineligible or even the grant to be terminated.

For instance, for Synergy Grants from the Ideas Work Programme 2012 onwards:

Principal Investigators should devote at least 30% of their working time to the ERC-funded project, while spending at least 50% of their total working time in an EU Member State or Associated Country. 

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, is it possible to change the authorised representative for several projects with one request?
A:

In FP7 ERC projects, the request can be grouped per grant type, but only if the former authorised representative, the new authorised representative and the contact person are the same in all the projects of the amendment request.

Further advice can be provided via the ERCEA amendments functional mailbox (ERC-C2-AMENDMENTS@ec.europa.eu ).

Q: Under FP7, is it possible to reduce the duration of the project in order to allow the Principal Investigator to apply for another ERC Grant?
A:

In the context of FP7 and according to the Ideas Work Programme 2013, a Principal Investigator may hold only one frontier research grant from the ERC at any one time. In particular, a PI may not submit a proposal for another ERC frontier research grant, unless the existing project ends no more than two years after the call deadline.

A request for a reduction of the duration of the project entails the following consequences:

  • Once a project's duration was reduced, it cannot be extended afterwards (even in case of failure in the application/evaluation process), unless force majeure, maternity or parental leave;
  • A request for the reduction of the duration of a project has to be approved by the Scientific Department. It will evaluate if the goals of the project can be reached in a shorter time;
  • Shortening of the project duration might trigger a reduction of the maximum Union contribution.

Nevertheless, it is possible that an ERC grantee (Starting/Consolidator/Advanced/Synergy Grant) also holds a Proof of Concept Grant.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, if for any substantive and justified reason the effective start date of the project is delayed from the start date specified in the grant agreement, does it require an amendment?
A:

In FP7, unless a fixed start date is indicated in the grant agreement, ERC frontier research grants are required to start on the first day of the month following the signature of the grant agreement by the ERCEA.

Exceptionally, for duly justified reasons and with the acceptance of the ERCEA, the project start date can be delayed (see the FP7 Guide for Amendments and the ERC Guidance Notes for preparing the Grant Agreement).  Such a delay might require an amendment.

If a delay in the start date is accepted without an amendment, such delay is expected to be caught up during the implementation of the project (no automatic extension).

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, are changes/amendments possible and how can they be implemented in the Grant Agreement?
A:

In FP7, changes in an ERC project can be requested via direct communication with the Project Officer or sending an email to ERC-C2@ec.europa.eu

For questions related specifically to amendments, you can use: erc-c2-amendments@ec.europa.eu. An amendment officer will be attributed to your request and you will receive a template for the request letter and a list of supporting documents that are needed.Changes to the original proposal can be introduced both:

1/ during the preparation phase of the Grant Agreement; and2/ during the implementation of the action.

Both types of changes require the ERC Scientific Department's approval.If the change comes after the signature of the grant agreement, usually an amendment is required (cases of amendments are listed in the FP7 Guide for Amendments).

An amendment of the Description of Work (Annex I) is always needed for:

  1. A change in the scientific work or a change in the project's objectives;
  2. The removal/addition of tasks, or substantial changes in the distribution of the work between beneficiaries (in case of multi-beneficiary grants);
  3. The introduction/ removal of third parties and/or subcontractor (exception for subcontracting of minor tasks);
  4. The addition or removal of a beneficiary (including change of host institution).

Other changes require only an information letter, such as requests for sabbatical leaves or a change of authorised representative of the Host Institution. With regard to this last case, a change in the Participant Portal (NEF) is no longer required from the beneficiary; this is done directly by the ERC Amendment Officer. The specimen signature of the new authorised representatives will be included in the template for the request.

Other changes do not require any amendment, such as changes in budget breakdown in between costs categories or in between reporting periods, etc. The Project Officer should be informed.

When in doubt whether an amendment is needed, beneficiaries are encouraged to contact the ERCEA via the amendments functional mailbox: ERC-C2-AMENDMENTS@ec.europa.eu.  

General information about amendments can be found in the Amendment Guide for FP7 Grant Agreements and in the Guide for ERC Grant Holders.    

Q: Under FP7, in the ERC financial reporting, what are "receipts" in Point 2 of the Financial Statement (Form C)?
A:

There are three kind of receipts in the ERC financial reporting under FP7 (Article II.17 of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary) and Part 2B, section 1 on Art II.17 of ECGA, in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues):

  • Financial transfers or their equivalent from third parties to the beneficiary;

  • Contributions in kind, free of charge from third parties, if they are specifically to be used for this ERC-project only;

  • Income generated by the project, excluding the cases when it was generated from the use of foreground.

Receipts are to be taken into account at the moment of the final payment (see Part 2B, section 1, on Article II.17 of ECGA (specific mention of Article II.18.3), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues).

Beneficiaries must take into account and declare receipts which are established (revenue that has been collected and entered in the accounts), generated or confirmed (revenue that has not yet been collected, but which has been generated or for which the beneficiary has a commitment or written confirmation) at the time of the submission of the last financial statement.

 

Q: Under FP7, what are the financial reporting requirements for an ERC grant and how are they submitted?
A:

In FP7, the financial reports shall be submitted by the Host Institution in consultation with the Principal Investigator. (See the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement, Article II.3.1.b for Single, or Article II.3.bis.1.b for Multi-Beneficiary Grant Agreements.)The financial reports provide the following parts:

- a declaration of honour;

- a description to which extent the objectives have been reached;

- information about how the project has been managed during the reporting period; and

- a chapter on the description of the scientific implementation of the project.

 

The financial reports also contain several annexes:

- Financial Statements;

- a breakdown of direct costs table; and

- a Budget follow-up table.

 

Depending on the amount of the costs claimed (cumulated amounts equal or superior to €375.000) the report also includes a Certificate on Financial Statements.In Proof of Concept Grants, given the shorter length, the project's reports will normally be required only once, at the end of the project. This report will combine the technical and financial aspects in one single document.

Article 4 of the ERC Grant Agreement defines the reporting periods and the language that has to be used for the reports.For submission of the Financial Statements (Form C) of the financial report, it must be distinguished whether grants that do have electronic submission and those that do not have electronic submission:- Grants with electronic submission (those signed from 01/01/2013 onwards plus those which were signed before and that opted-in through an amendment): the Financial Statements need to be introduced via the FORCE application only.- Grants without electronic submission: the Financial Statements need to be introduced via the FORCE application in addition to the paper file that has to be provided to the ERCEA.

 

 

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, how does the verification of the scientific reports take place and what are the possible consequences?
A:

In FP7, the scientific reports are analysed by the ERC scientific department, while the financial reports are analysed by the ERC grant management department, in collaboration with the scientific department.The PI receives an advance notice letter at the end of the reporting period to upload the scientific report and publications with links to the Participant Portal; a visual guide on how to create and submit scientific report; and the open access policy.There are four possible consequences resulting from the verification of the mid-term scientific reports by the ERCEA:(i) If the scientific report has been approved without conditions:At the end of the next financial reporting period, the payment will not need any additional scientific requirements (unless new scientific issues arise in the meantime).(ii) If the scientific report has been approved under certain conditions:At the end of the next financial reporting period, the payment will be subject to the fulfilment of the suggested scientific recommendations.(iii) If the scientific report has been rejected (e.g. because of missing publications, or inconsistencies with the current Description of Work) and a revised version of the report had been requested:The payment will be suspended at the forthcoming reporting period, until a satisfactory revised scientific report is submitted and approved by the scientific department.

(iv) If the scientific report has been rejected:The ERCEA may start the procedure for termination of the Grant Agreement. Final reports submitted within the framework of the termination will be due 45 days after the decision on termination became effective.

When evaluating the scientific reports, the ERCEA Scientific Department may require a review by additional experts. In these cases, the time to evaluate the reports and disburse payments can be suspended till the review is satisfactory.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, in the cases where the Host Institution has given a large contribution without cost charged to the project (lab or equipment), does this need to be documented and reported on?
A:

In FP7, the "Description of Work" should mention that the project team will use the respective facility without claiming any costs.

Q: Under FP7, what is the best practice for communication between the Host Institution, the Principal Investigator and the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA)?
A:

In the context of FP7, all official letters have to be sent to the address defined in Article 8 of the Grant Agreement.During the project implementation phase, the ERCEA can be contacted for any kind of questions related to the project through the functional mailbox ERC-C2@ec.europa.eu , as mentioned in Article 8 of the Grant Agreement.

For financial reports, in case the host institution does not have electronic signature agreement, the financial statement (form C) and the Certificate on Financial Statements (CFS) should be also submitted in paper version.

For questions relating to possible changes to the ERC Grant Agreement or amendments, please contact the ERCEA amendments functional mailbox:ERC-C2-AMENDMENTS@ec.europa.eu

For communicating EU Research & Innovation, a guide for project participants is destined to FP7 funded projects to help to better communicate your projects and results.

For any other questions, the beneficiaries can also contact the ERCEA directly by email through the functional mailbox, in particular for questions related to the management of the grants.

A specific helpdesk exists for question from PIs only:ERCEA-C2-PI-HELPDESK@ec.europa.eu

Q: For FP7 ERC Project what does a Principal Investigator (PI) need to indicate in the publications section in the scientific report?
A:

The box "Open access has been or will be provided?" should be ticked if: 

  • The publisher has provided immediate open access, possibly after payment of an article processing charge (APC); or
  • The publication has been deposited in a repository for scientific publications and open access has been or will be provided through this repository either immediately or after the elapse of an embargo period.

If the Grant Agreement contains Special Clause 39 ERC, then in principle the box should be ticked for all publications related to foreground from the project. In this case, if for some reason open access has not been provided to a publication related to foreground from the project and will not be provided within six months from publication, a justification must be included in the report, explaining the best efforts that have been made to provide open access to the publication, in line with the details explained in section 7.3 of the Guide to Intellectual Property Rules for FP7 projects.

Q: Do Principal Investigators (PIs) need to have a PhD degree to apply to an ERC Synergy Grant (ERC-2019-SyG) call for proposals?
A:

The ERC Synergy Grant (SyG) funding scheme imposes very little eligibility constraints on applicants. A PhD degree is not formally required. However, please be aware that this is an extremely competitive call.

More information about the ERC-2019-SYG Grant Call and eligibility requirements is available in the ERC Work Programme 2019 and Information for Applicants to the Synergy Grant 2019 Call.

Q: For an ERC Synergy Grant (ERC-2019-SyG), should the core of the research be organised in the corresponding Host Institution?
A:

There are no specific constraints in this respect. The corresponding Host Institution is the one hosting the corresponding Principal Investigator (PI). As this PI is the 'primus inter pares' for the project as is the main administrative contact. The Principal Investigators are considered equal regardless of their Host Institution.

More information about the ERC-2019-SYG Grant Call is available in the ERC Work Programme 2019 and Information for Applicants to the Synergy Grant 2019 Call.

Q: For an ERC Synergy Grant (ERC-2019-SyG) call for proposals, should all Host Institutions involved submit a support letter?
A:

No, only a support letter from the corresponding Host Institution (HI) is required at the time of submission, i.e. from the institution hosting the corresponding Principal Investigator (PI).

Grants are awarded to the Host Institution with the explicit commitment that this institution offers appropriate conditions for the Principal Investigator(s) to independently manage the ERC funded research.

In case of Synergy Grants, where different Principal Investigators are hosted by more than one HI, each of the HIs shall offer their support to the PIs hosted by them for at least the duration of the grant. At submission stage, however, only the corresponding HI must provide the host support letter for the corresponding Principal Investigator.

The conditions offered by the Host Institutions, including the 'portability' of the grant, are the subject of a supplementary agreement between the Principal Investigator(s) and their respective Host Institution(s).

More information about the ERC-2019-SYG Grant Call is available in the ERC Work Programme 2019 and Information for Applicants to the Synergy Grant 2019 Call.