Frontier research often generates unexpected or new opportunities for commercial or societal application. The ERC Proof of Concept Grants aim to maximise 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. Proof of Concept Grants are therefore on offer only to Principal Investigators whose proposals draw substantially on their ERC funded research.
All proposals will be subject to ethics review as with proposals for the ERC's frontier research grants.
Maximum size of grant and grant assessment
The financial contribution will be up to a maximum of EUR 150 000 for a period of 18 months. The ERC expects that normally, proof of concept projects should be completed within 12 months. However, to allow for those projects that require more preparation time, projects will be signed for 18 months. Given this initial flexibility, extensions of the duration of proof of concept projects may be granted only exceptionally.
The overall level of the funding offered will be assessed during the evaluation. The funding requested by the applicant will be judged against the needs of the proposed activity before award. The funding requested by the Principal Investigator must be fully justified by an estimation of the actual costs for the proposed activities.
The Union financial contribution will take the form of the reimbursement of up to 100% of the total eligible and approved direct costs and of flat-rate financing of indirect costs on the basis of 25% of the total eligible direct costs (excluding the direct costs for subcontracting and the costs of resources made available by third parties which are not used on the premises of the host institution.). The level of the awarded grant represents a maximum overall figure – the final amount to be paid must be justified on the basis of the costs actually incurred for the project.
The indicative budget for this call for 2018 is EUR 20 000 000 (approximately one-third of which will be for each of the three evaluation rounds following three specific cut-off dates - proposals submitted before each cut-off date will be evaluated with the proposals submitted before the same cut-off date).
Profile of the ERC Proof of Concept Grant Principal Investigator
All Principal Investigators in an ERC frontier research project, that is either on going or has ended (where the duration of the project fixed in the ERC Grant Agreement has ended) less than 12 months before 1 January 2018, are eligible to participate and apply for an ERC Proof of Concept Grant.
For further information please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2018.
Topic conditions and documents
Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application (for more detailed information please refer to the Information for Applicants to the Proof of Concept Grant 2018 Call and the Frequently Asked Questions -FAQs).
1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding:
The conditions specific to the ERC are described in the ERC 2018 Work Programme under the heading 'Eligibility criteria' and in 'Annex 3'. An overview is provided below:
The ERC actions are open to researchers of any nationality who intend to conduct their research activity in any EU Member State or H2020 Associated Country. Principal Investigators may be of any age and nationality and may reside in any country in the world at the time of the application. ERC Principal Investigators do not have to be based full-time in Europe.
The host institution must either be established in an EU Member State or H2020 Associated Country 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.
Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.
2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions:
The conditions specific to ERC grants are described in the ERC Work Programme 2018 under the heading 'Eligibility criteria' and in the ERC Rules for Submission and Evaluation under Section 2.4. An overview is provided below:
Eligible proposals: All proposals must be complete and submitted before the relevant call deadline. A complete proposal needs to include all parts or sections (see “Proposal submission and description” below). Incomplete proposals may be declared ineligible. The content of the proposal must relate to the objectives and to the grant type set out in the call, as defined in ERC Work Programme 2018. A proposal will only be deemed ineligible on grounds of ‘scope’ in clear-cut cases.
Eligible Principal Investigators: All Principal Investigators in an ERC frontier research project, that is either on going or has ended (where the duration of the project fixed in the ERC Grant Agreement has ended) less than 12 months before 1 January 2018, are eligible to participate and apply for an ERC Proof of Concept Grant.
Principal Investigators may submit only one proposal under Work Programme 2018. If multiple submissions are made at different cut-off dates under the ERC Work Programme 2018 only the first eligible proposal will be considered.
A Principal Investigator whose proposal was rejected on the grounds of a breach of research integrity in the calls for proposals under Work Programmes 2016 or 2017 may not submit a proposal to the calls for proposals made under the ERC Work Programme 2018.
Eligible Host Institution: The host institution (Applicant Legal Entity) must engage the Principal Investigator(s) for at least the duration of the project, as defined in the grant agreement. It must either be established in an EU Member State or Associated Country 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. Any type of legal entity, public or private, including universities, research organisations and undertakings can host Principal Investigators and their teams.
The conditions specific to ERC are described in the ERC Work Programme 2018 under the heading 'Evaluation procedure and criteria' and in the ERC Rules for Submission and Evaluation. An overview is provided below:
3.1 Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold:
A single-stage submission and single-step evaluation procedure will be used. The evaluation will be conducted by independent experts. These experts may work remotely and may if necessary meet as an evaluation panel as set out below on the application of the evaluation criteria.
Proof of Concept Grants are awarded in relation to an existing ERC-funded project which has already been evaluated on the basis of excellence as the sole criterion. The evaluation criteria for selection of proposals for Proof of Concept Grants are excellence in innovation potential, impact and quality and efficiency of the implementation.
The detailed evaluation elements applying to the proof of concept project and the Principal Investigator are set out in the ERC Work Programme 2018.
3.2 Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:
Please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2018 under the heading 'Indicative summary of main calls from the 2018 budget'.
3.3 Guide to the submission and evaluation process:
Please refer to:
The Information for Applicants to the ERC Proof of Concept Grants 2018 Call
The ERC Rules for Submission and Evaluation.
For more information on the Peer review evaluation methodology, please refer to the ERC Guide for Peer Reviewers applying to the Proof of Concept call.
4. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms:
These templates and instructions are for information only and will be updated for the opening of the call (06 September 2017).
Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part A and Part B of the standard proposal template.
A complete proposal is composed of:
• Administrative Proposal Submission forms (Part A) (including Ethics Review Table): available on this page below and online via the Participant Portal Submission System (PPSS) – registration to Participant Portal is required first.
• The Proposal (Part B) and any supporting documentation should be uploaded and submitted via Participant Portal Submission System as PDF files.
Part B (7 pages + Budget Table):
• The Idea and Demonstration of Innovation Potential : max. 2 pages
• Expected Impact of the proposed Innovation : 2 pages
• The proof of concept plan : 2 pages
• Budget Table and Budget justification: 1 page (+ Budget Table)
• The Supplementary Documents:
• Host Institution Binding Statement of Support (available on this page below and as a word-template in PPSS). Only the host institution of the Corresponding Principal Investigator must confirm its association with and its support to the project and the Corresponding Principal Investigator, listing the other participating Principal Investigators.
• Ethics review self-assessment (if applicable) and supporting documentation.
Proposal templates are provisional and will be available after entering the submission tool below.
- ERC proposal template for POC (administrative forms and structure of technical annex)
- ERC standard evaluation form for POC: please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2018 under the heading 'ERC Proof of Concept Grant Evaluation'.
Horizon 2020 budget flexibility: please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2018 in the Proof of Concept grants section, under the heading 'Maximum size of grant and grant assessment'.
H2020 ERC MGA PoC - Multi-Beneficiary
H2020 ERC MGA PoC - Mono-Beneficiary
H2020 Annotated Grant Agreement
5. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged.
The ERC supports the principle of open access to the published output of research, including in particular peer-reviewed articles and monographs, as a fundamental part of its mission. It also supports the basic principle of open access to research data and data related products such as computer code. The ERC considers that providing free online access to all these materials can be the most effective way of ensuring that the fruits of the research it funds can be accessed, read and used as the basis for further research.
Under Horizon 2020, beneficiaries of ERC grants must ensure open access to all peer-reviewed scientific publications (including journal articles, monographs, book chapters, edited volumes, etc.) related to the results of the project as set out in Article 29.2 of the ERC Model Grant Agreement.