ERC Synergy Grants are intended to enable minimum two to maximum four Principal Investigatorsand their teams to bring together complementary skills, knowledge, and resources in new ways, in order to jointly address ambitious research problems.
The aim is to promote substantial advances at the frontiers of knowledge, to cross-fertilize scientific fields, and to encourage new productive lines of enquiry and new methods and techniques, including unconventional approaches and investigations at the interface between established disciplines. This should enable transformative research not only at the forefront of European science but also to become a benchmark on a global scale.
Applicants Principal Investigators must demonstrate the synergies, complementarities and added value that could lead to breakthroughs that would not be possible by the individual Principal Investigators working alone.
Size of ERC Synergy Grants
Synergy Grants may be awarded up to a maximum of EUR 10 000 000 for a period of 6 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 4 000 000 in total 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 Synergy Grant Principal Investigators
Groups applying for the ERC Synergy Grant must be made up of a minimum of two and a maximum of four Principal Investigators and, as necessary, their teams. One of the Principal Investigators must be designated as the Corresponding Principal Investigator.
Applications are expected from a group of innovative and active Principal Investigators and must present an early achievement track-record or a 10-year track-record whichever is most appropriate for their career stage (see Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grant profiles in the ERC Work Programme 2018). There is little prospect of an application succeeding in the absence of such a record.
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 Synergy Grant 2018 Call and the Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs).
List of countries and applicable rules for funding:
The conditions specific to the ERC are described in the ERC Work Programme 2018 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. However, Principal Investigators funded through the ERC frontier research grants shall spend a minimum percentage of their total working time in an EU Member State or Associated Country and a minimum percentage of their total working time on the ERC project.
The host institution(s) must either be established in an EU Member State or H2020 Associated Countryas 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.
The conditions specific to the European Research Council (ERC) 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 entails all parts or sections (see 'Proposal page limits and layout' 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 the ERC Work Programme 2018. A proposal will only be deemed ineligible on grounds of 'scope' in clear-cut cases.
Eligible Principal Investigators: Principal Investigators are expected to be active researchers and must present an early achievement track-record or a 10-year track-record whichever is most appropriate for their career stage (see Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grant profiles in the ERC Work Programme 2018).
Eligible Host Institution: The host institution(s) (Applicant Legal Entity(ies)) - up to four Host Insitutions - must engage 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 H2020 Associated Countryas 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: There are no restrictions for submission related to the outcome of the evaluation in previous calls but most probably there will be restrictions for the future calls in case your proposal has not been retained for funding and it will apply to all the PIs. For further details please consult page 20 of the ERC Work Programme 2018 or the Frequently Asked Questions.
A single submission of the full proposal will be followed by a three-step evaluation, including interviews of all the Principal Investigators (cf. ERC Work Programme 2018 on page 35).
The evaluation will be conducted by means of a structure of dedicated panels as listed in Annex 1 of the ERC Work Programme 2018. The panels may be assisted by independent experts working remotely.
The composition of the panels at each step is not predefined but will be decided dynamically in relation to the proposals received.
Applicant Principal Investigators can request during the electronic proposal submission that up to four specific persons should not act as an evaluator in the evaluation of their proposal.
- At step 1 : One panel formed from approximately 80 panel members and chairs will assess the extended synopsis (and not the full scientific proposal) and the Principal Investigators’ track records and CVs.
- At step 2 : Panel Members from step 1 will be divided in five panels of around 15 experts each having the best expertise for a group of proposals. They will assess the complete version of the retained proposals (including the full scientific proposal).
- At step 3 : the interview panels may be reconfigured to ensure the best expertise for the proposals. The most competitive of the retained proposals will be identified and their Principal Investigators will be invited for an interview to present their project to a panel meeting in Brussels.
For all ERC frontier research grants 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 Investigators.
Synergy Grant Principal Investigators applying as part of a group for a Synergy Grant will be evaluated according to their individual career stage.
The Peer reviewers will need to see that the collaborative working arrangements between the Principal Investigators can ensure scientific excellence. The detailed evaluation elements applying to the excellence of the research project and the Principal Investigators are set out in the ERC Work Programme 2018.
Guide to the submission and evaluation process:
Please refer to the ERC Rules for Submission and Evaluation. For more information on the peer review evaluation methodology, please refer to the ERC Frontier Research Grants Guide for Peer Reviewers.
Proposal page limits and layout:
A complete proposal is composed of:
- a) Administrative Proposal Submission form (including Ethics Review Table): available on this page under section 6 below and online via the Participant Portal Submission System (PPSS) – registration to Participant Portal is required first.
- b) The Research Proposal, Parts B1 and B2: templates are available as word-templates in PPSS. Both parts should be uploaded and submitted via PPSS as PDF files.
Proposal Part B1
Extended Synopsis: max. 5 pages (please note that 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 (please note that neither references nor the resources section that is included in the Scientific Proposal count towards the page limit).
- c) Host Institution Binding Statement of Support: 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 - available on this page under Section 6 below and as a word-template in PPSS.
- d) Ethics review self-assessment (if applicable) and supporting documentation.
The minimum font size allowed is 11 points. The page size is A4 (with single line spacing). Side margins should be at least 20 mm and the bottom and top margins at least 15 mm. Ensure that the font type chosen is clearly readable (e.g. Arial or Times New Roman). Experts will be instructed to disregard any excess pages.
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) of action(s) under this topic:
Specific provisions and funding rates: please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2018 under the headings 'Funding rates' and 'Synergy Grant profile'.
Information for the applicants of the Synergy Grants
SyG 2018 Proposal templates: ERC standard proposal template
ERC standard evaluation form for SyG: please refer to ERC Work Programme 2018 under the heading 'Evaluation procedure and criteria'.
Additional provisions: Horizon 2020 budget flexibility:
Please refer to the Work Programme 2018 under the heading 'Budget'
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.