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Q: Under call ERC-2020-AdG, where should the applicant include the budget table and justification of resources?
A:

The budget table and description of resources are now part of the online submission form (Section 3 - Budget). All the resources have to be described and justified in the text box under the budget table (Section C. Resources). The applicant should NOT include any description of resources or budget table in Part B2.

Q: Under call ERC-2020-AdG, will ERC experts have access to the submission form (Part A) of my proposal in order to assess the budget table and justification of resources?
A:

Only Section 3 – Budget of the submission form (Part A) containing the budget table and description of resources (Section C. Resources) will be made available to the experts evaluating the proposal. The evaluators will have no access to the rest of the submission form.

Q: Under call ERC-2020-AdG, how can a researcher who was not continuously engaged in research or other professional activities during the previous ten years due to maternity/paternity leave, demonstrate their merit?
A:

When applying to the ERC Advanced Grant 2020 (ERC-2020-AdG) call, it is recommended that the researcher provides evidence of recent achievements of intellectual productivity and creativity. If a researcher returned to their original or new project(s) following a sabbatical leave, the reviewers are asked to take such circumstances into consideration. For maternity, the track record considered can be extended by 18 months for each child born before or during the last ten years. For paternity, the track record considered can be extended by the actual amount of paternity leave taken for each child born before or during the last ten years. For long-term illness, clinical qualification or national service the track record considered can be extended by the amount of leave taken for each incident which occurred during the last ten years. For more information, please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2020 or the Information for Applicants to the Advanced Grants 2020 call.

Q: Under call ERC-2020-AdG, can a Principal Investigator (PI), who holds a permanent position in a research organisation in the US, apply for an ERC Advanced Grant with a Host Institution located in Europe?
A:

Yes, a Principal Investigator (PI) engaged in the US or in a third country can apply for an ERC Advanced Grant 2020 (ERC-2020-AdG) call, as long as they will be engaged and hosted by a Host Institution based in an EU Member State or an Associated Country for the whole duration of the grant (see the ERC Work Programme 2020 for the eligibility conditions). Principal Investigators funded through the ERC Advanced Grants have to spend a minimum of 50% of their total working time in an EU Member State or Associated Country and a minimum of 30% of their total working time on the ERC project (see the ERC Work Programme 2020 for the Advanced Grant Profile).

Q: Under call ERC-2020-AdG, can a Principal Investigator, simultaneously engaged part-time by 2 different research organisations and leading a research group at both, apply for a ERC grant with both research groups executing the proposed project as one team?
A:

Yes, this is possible as long as the Principal Investigator (PI) is supported by one of the two research organisations as Host Institution (applicant legal entity) at least for the minimum time requirement of the call and for the full duration of the grant (see the ERC Work Programme 2020). Other research organisation(s), hosting team members, should be referred to as (an) additional partner(s) in the research proposal and their details should be given in the administrative proposal submission form in the Funding & Tenders Portal).

Q: Under call ERC-2020-AdG, are only PhD holders allowed to apply for an ERC Advanced Grant 2020?
A:

No, a PhD is not formally required to submit a proposal to the ERC Advanced Grant 2020 (ERC-2020-AdG) call. As specified in the ERC Work Programme 2020, excellence is the sole criterion for the evaluation of a proposal. However, a Principal Investigator (PI) is expected to have outstanding research results within the last 10 years. For more information, please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2020, or the Information for Applicants relevant for the call.

Q: Under call ERC-2020-AdG, can a Principal Investigator (PI), whose proposal was submitted to 2018 or 2019 ERC frontier research grants call and evaluated at the end of Step1 as of insufficient quality to pass to Step2 (C category), submit an application?
A:

No, a Principal Investigator (PI) whose proposal was evaluated as category C in the step 1 Starting (StG), Consolidator (CoG), Advanced (AdG) Grant or Synergy Grant (SyG) calls for proposals under ERC Work Programme 2018 and 2019 may not submit a proposal to the ADG call for proposals made under Work Programme 2020. For more information, please refer to the restrictions on submission of proposals in the ERC Work Programme 2020.

Q: Under call ERC-2020-AdG, can a researcher with less than ten years of research experience apply for an ERC Advanced Grant?
A:

A Principal Investigator (PI) can apply for an ERC Advanced Grant 2020 (ERC-2020-AdG) call even if they do not yet have ten years of research experience. However, applicants for the prestigious ERC Advanced Grant are expected to be active and established research leaders and have a track record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years which must be presented in the application. The emphasis lies on recent outstanding research results which are not older than 10 years. For more information on the expected profile of the Advanced Grant applicant, please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2020 or the Information for Applicants to the Advanced Grant call.

Q: Under call ERC-2020-AdG, can a researcher who is nearing retirement apply for an ERC Advanced Grant?
A:

Yes, an experienced researcher is welcome to apply to the ERC Advanced Grant 2020 (ERC-2020-AdG) call at any stage of their career if they can prove - independently of their age - that they are still active with recent outstanding results. As stated in the ERC Work Programme 2020, Principal Investigators (PIs) may be of any age and nationality and may reside in any country in the world at the time of the application. The commitment and official support of a Host Institution is nevertheless required for the whole duration of the grant. For more information, see the ERC Work Programme 2020 or the Information for Applicants to the Advanced Grant call.

Q: Related to the COVID-19 outbreak, how will ERCEA handle delays in the project implementation, including as regards the impossibility to fulfil the Principle Investigator (PI) time-commitment obligations under the Horizon 2020 ERC grants?
A:

Similar to the general H2020 grants, given the COVID-19 situation, maximum flexibility will be given on scheduled due dates for deliverables, milestones, scientific and financial reporting as well as to the implementation of the action whose performance was impacted by the confinement measures (see FAQs on delays in submitting reports or deliverables, on interim payments, on reorientation of the action).

As regards the time-commitments obligation for PIs, the normal rules of the grant apply. We remind our beneficiaries that the PI’s time-commitments obligations must be fulfilled for the overall action duration (NOT annually or per reporting period). Therefore, if due to COVID-19 the PI cannot fulfil the time-commitment obligations under the project in a reporting period, she or he may compensate for it in the next reporting periods once the confinement measures are lifted, and fulfil the time-commitments by the end of the action. If needed, beneficiaries may suspend the action implementation during the period where no work can be carried out (in line with Article 49 H2020 MGA). In addition, if the PI cannot fulfil the time-commitment obligations for the whole action, the beneficiary may request a suitable extension of the action that will be treated favourably and swiftly (see FAQ on extension of action duration). This extension will not count against another potential extension under H2020 ERC grants, which will follow the normal rules and procedures.

Q: What happens to costs in Horizon 2020 grants when there are difficulties in implementing the action due to the COVID-19 situation?
A:

For actual cost-based H2020 actions & MSCA actions

  • Given this unprecedented pandemic situation, maximum flexibility will be given in relation to the action implementation.
  • Whenever possible beneficiaries are encouraged to telework or to use other forms of remote working. Teleworking during the confinement and the subsequent transitional period will be accepted even if it is not the beneficiary’s usual practice to telework. Costs of hours worked for the Horizon 2020 action via teleworking during those periods are eligible under the same conditions than hours worked on-site. For actual cost-based grants, the beneficiary is also entitled to the 25 % indirect costs flat rate on the costs of those teleworked hours. Private costs incurred by the employee for its teleworking activities (e.g. electricity at home, internet connection fee, printer consumables, etc.) are not eligible as direct costs for the Horizon 2020 actions. The potential reimbursement of those costs by the beneficiary to the employee is covered by the 25 % flat rate for indirect costs.

Beneficiaries are also highly encouraged to shift their tasks whenever possible. For instance, tasks where physical presence is needed on the ground (e.g. experiments/lab work, etc.) may be postponed after confinement measures are over and meanwhile remote work could be done instead (desk work, drafting of reports, etc.) Costs will still be eligible for the work carried out under the action even if such shifting entails deviations from the initial timing set out in Annex 1.

Additional possibility for H2020 MSCA actions:

  • Beneficiaries are reminded that periods in which a researcher was absent for 30 consecutive days or less (for reasons other than normal annual leave) can STILL be charged to the action and the costs will be eligible.
  • Moreover, the budget is flexible on the use of the amounts received. Research, training and networking unit costs should be used primarily for the research, training and networking activities planned in Annex 1. Yet, beneficiaries may allocate some of these amounts to help maintaining the salary of the researchers that are prevented from implementing the action due to the COVID-19 situation.
  • Beneficiaries have the same flexibility on deciding how to spend the institutional unit costs in order to complete their research. The only condition is that the Research, Training and Networking costs must be spent in support of the implementation of the project, as outlined in the Annex 1 to the grant agreement.

Additional clarifications for ERC actions:

  • Telework arrangements are particularly recommended for Principal Investigators that are currently blocked from returning to the EU or Associated Countries. In such a case, specific arrangements need also to be anticipated and taken also for the team’s work supervision, and ERCEA must be notified accordingly.
  • The time teleworked by these PIs during the time they are prevented from returning to the EU or the Associated Countries may count as time spent on the ERC project and in the EU or the Associated Countries for the purpose of the Principle Investigator’s time commitments. However, time records for the PIs should be kept even if no personnel costs are charged for him/her to the project.
Q: Is it possible to apply to the ERC Synergy Grant (ERC-2020-SyG) call if the same PI also intends to apply to an ERC Starting (StG), Consolidator (CoG) or Advanced Grant (AdG) call?
A:

Similarly to other ERC frontier calls, a Principal Investigator (PI) may submit proposals to different ERC frontier research calls published under the same Work Programme, but only the first eligible proposal will be evaluated. Ineligible or withdrawn proposals do not count against this limit (ERC Work Programme 2020). Thus if a PI applies to the ERC-2020-SyG call and the proposal is eligible and evaluated, their other application to a StG, CoG or AdG call under the ERC Work Programme 2020 will not be evaluated.

It is important to note that the year of an ERC call refers to the ERC Work Programme under which the call was made and can be established by its call identifier. A 2020 ERC call is therefore one that was published under the ERC Work Programme 2020 and will have 2020 in the call identifier (for example ERC-2020-SyG).Example: A proposal submitted to ERC-2020-AdG call will not be evaluated if the PI had already applied to the ERC-2020-SyG call and the SyG proposal was considered eligible, even if the call deadlines are in two different calendar years (in 2019 for the SyG 2020 call and in 2020 for the AdG 2020 call). Note that it is possible to apply both to the ERC-2019-AdG call and to the ERC-2020-SyG call. In case the PI is selected for funding in the AdG 2019 call and the Grant Agreement is signed, the PI becomes ineligible in the 2020 SyG call, because a PI can hold only one ERC frontier grant at any one time.

Q: For ERC projects, are costs charged by journal publishers for the provision of immediate open access to publications (article processing charges, APCs) eligible costs?
A:

Yes, these 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.

Q: For ERC projects, if a grant is transferred from one host to another, which organisation is responsible for ensuring open access to publications based on work carried out at the first host institution?
A:

If the Grant Agreement contains a Special Clause 39 ERC, then the initial host institution is responsible for providing open access to those publications that have been published while it was the beneficiary. For any publication after the transfer of host institution, the new host institution is responsible as far as the deposit in a repository and the provision of open access is concerned, irrespective whether the publication is based on work carried out at the old or the new host institution.

Q: For ERC projects, why are the reporting periods for financial (every 18 months) and scientific (every 30 months) reports different and how are they linked?
A:

One of the specificities of the ERC Grant Agreement is the split of the reporting into two distinct sets of reporting periods, in order to diminish the administrative burden on the researchers:

-Scientific reports, usually after half of the project (30 months) and at the end of the project in Starting and Advanced Grants and two intermediate reports (usually every 24 months) and one at the end of the project in Synergy Grants. Scientific reports are submitted by the Principal Investigator on behalf of the Host Institution/beneficiary;

- Financial reports, usually every 18 months and at the end of the project. Financial reports are submitted by the Host Institution with a contribution from the Principal Investigator, as per 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.

Two different departments/units in the ERCEA follow the (two) separate reporting streams to independently ensure appropriate work progress, follow-up and monitoring of the project. The templates are sent via advance notice letter 15 days before the end of the reporting period (in order to ensure that the beneficiary uses the latest version available).

If the scientific report has been approved without conditions, the payment will be performed at the end of the next financial reporting period without the need of any additional scientific requirements (if no new scientific issues arise meanwhile). If the scientific report has been approved conditionally, at the end of the next financial reporting period, the payment will be subject to verification that the suggested scientific recommendations have been properly fulfilled in the meantime. If the scientific report has been rejected and a revised version of the report was requested, the payment at the forthcoming financial reporting period will be suspended, until a satisfactory revised scientific report is submitted and approved by the scientific department. 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 definitive.

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

Q: For ERC projects, is it possible to include the names of individual researchers in a Description of Work?
A:

ERCEA does not recommend, as a common practice, to include names of individual researchers. Exceptions can be requested and have to be motivated. However, a list of all team members will be requested together with each financial report.

Q: For ERC projects, how does the Guarantee Fund works?
A:

At the beginning of a ERC projects, 5% of the maximum contribution will be offset from the pre-financing and transferred to the Guarantee Fund as a financial contribution from the beneficiary. The Guarantee fund aims at covering financial risks and specifically non-reimbursement of amounts due by a beneficiary. At the end of a project, the beneficiary usually recovers its full contribution to the Guarantee Fund.

Q: Where can I find the European Research Council (ERC) logo and when can I use it?
A:
The European Research Council (ERC) logo and European emblem can be downloaded from the ERC website logos and banners page. The ERC logo can be used by beneficiaries of ERC funding support for the sole purpose of acknowledging that suppport. No explicit permission is necessary to use the ERC logo in this case.
Q: Under call H2020-HIA-Prize-2020, topic DEE-Prize-2020: Horizon Impact Award, in case an MSCA fellow and/or an ERC principal investigator has moved from the University where the original FP7/H2020 project was hosted, how should they apply?
A:

Under call H2020-HIA-Prize-2020, topic DEE-Prize-2020: Horizon Impact Award, applicants must apply by using the Participant Identification Code (PIC) of the legal entity which was one of the beneficiaries listed in the Grant Agreement of the FP7/H2020 project. If the project was hosted by University X, then the application must be submitted using the PIC of the beneficiary, which, in this case, would be University X. In the case of the ERC principal investigators or MSCA fellows, they can also apply as individuals in their own name by creating a PIC corresponding to a natural person or use the PIC of the legal entity which was one of the beneficiaries listed in the Grant Agreement.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, if the Principal Investigator goes on maternity / parental leave, does the project need to be suspended?
A:

In FP7, if the Principal Investigator is able to and wants to continue to supervise the project directly during the maternity/parental leave, they can do so, subject to the observance of applicable national law.The Principal Investigator shall inform the ERCEA when they go on maternity / parental leave and whether they intend to require a suspension of the grant for this period. The ERCEA will assess the suspension request.