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

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)?

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?

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?

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

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.