ERC Starting Grants are designed to support excellent Principal Investigators at the career stage at which they are starting their own independent research team or programme. Applicant Principal Investigators must demonstrate the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their scientific proposal.
Size of ERC Starting Grants
Starting Grants may be awarded up to a maximum of EUR 1 500 000 for a period of 5 years (The maximum award is reduced pro rata temporis for projects of a shorter duration. This does not apply to ongoing projects).
However, up to an additional EUR 500 000 can be requested in the proposal to cover (a) eligible "start-up" costs for Principal Investigators moving to the EU or an Associated Country from elsewhere as a consequence of receiving the ERC grant and/or (b) the purchase of major equipment and/or (c) access to large facilities (As any additional funding is to cover major one-off costs it is not subject to pro-rata temporis reduction for projects of shorter duration. All funding requested is assessed during evaluation).
Profile of the ERC Starting Grant Principal Investigator
The Principal Investigator shall have been awarded their first PhD at least 2 and up to 7 years prior to 1 January 2018. The effective elapsed time since the award of the first PhD can be reduced in certain properly documented circumstances.
A competitive Starting Grant Principal Investigator must have already shown the potential for research independence and evidence of maturity, for example by having produced at least one important publication as main author or without the participation of their PhD supervisor. Applicant Principal Investigators 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.
For further information please see the ERC Work Programme 2018.
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.
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 Investigator: Principal Investigators may be of any age and nationality and may reside in any country in the world at the time of the application. All Principal Investigators funded through an ERC grant shall spend a minimum of 50% of their total working time in an EU Member State or Associated Country and a minimum of 50% of their total working time on the ERC project.
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.
Restrictions on submission of proposals: The restrictions for submission are related to the outcome of the evaluation in previous calls and are designed to allow unsuccessful Principal Investigators the time necessary to develop a stronger proposal. For futher details please consult page 19-20 of the ERC Work Programme 2018 or the Frequently Asked Questions.
Proposal page limits and layout: A complete proposal is composed of:
Proposal Part B1
Extended Synopsis: max. 5 pages (references do not count towards the page limits)
Curriculum Vitae: max. 2 pages for each Principal Investigator
Funding ID: no page limits
Track Record: max. 2 pages for each Principal Investigator
Proposal Part B2
Scientific Proposal: max. 15 pages (references do not count towards the page limit).
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.
A single submission of the full proposal will be followed by a two-step evaluation. The evaluation will be conducted by means of a structure of high level peer review panels as listed in Annex 1 of the ERC Work Programme 2018. The panels may be assisted by independent experts working remotely.
For all ERC frontier research grants scientific excellence is the sole criterion of evaluation. It will be applied in conjunction to the evaluation of both: the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of the research project; and the intellectual capacity, creativity and commitment of the Principal Investigator. The detailed evaluation elements applying to the excellence of the research project and the Principal Investigator are set out in ERC Work Programme 2018.
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'.
Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) if action(s) under this topic:
ERC Starting Grant
Specific provisions and funding rates: please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2018 under the headings 'Funding rates' and 'Starting Grant profile'.
Information for Applicants to the the Starting and Consolidator Grant 2018 Calls.
Proposal templates are available after entering the submission tool below.
ERC Guide for Peer Reviewers – STG, COG, ADG
H2020 ERC MGA – Multi-Beneficiary
H2020 ERC MGA – Mono-Beneficiary
H2020 Annotated Grant Agreement
Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
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.
In addition, for the first time under Horizon 2020, beneficiaries of ERC frontier research grants funded under this Work Programme will automatically be covered by the provisions on research data sharing as set out in Article 29.3 of the ERC Model Grant Agreement unless they specifically decide to opt-out.
Beneficiaries that do not opt-out should also ensure appropriate management (including preservation and curation) of the research data they generate in order to ensure its sustainability. These provisions are designed to facilitate access, re-use and preservation of research data generated during the ERC funded research work. For more guidance, please see the related ERC guidelines and ERC Template for the Data Management Plan (DMP).
Beneficiaries should carefully check the additional obligations related to open research data contained in Article 29.3. They may opt-out of the provisions of the previous paragraph at any stage, thereby freeing themselves retroactively from the associated obligations.