The European Research Council (ERC) has announced its 2018 grant competitions with a total budget of around €1.86 billion, most of which earmarked for early- to mid-career researchers. In addition, the ERC is reintroducing Synergy Grants, the funding scheme for groups of two to four scientists who jointly address ambitious research problems. Two grant competitions – for Starting Grants and for Synergy Grants – are now open for application.
The Work Programme includes all the well-known and established ERC funding schemes: Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grants, as well as Proof of Concept Grants for ERC grantees who wish to explore the innovation potential of their research results.
The Synergy Grants scheme, building on the experience of the 2012 and 2013 pilot, proposes grants for groups of two to four excellent principal investigators. The grants may be awarded for up to €10 million for 6 years. The ultimate goal of the scheme is to give support to close collaborative interactions that will enable transformative research, cross-fertilizingdisciplines and capable of yielding ground-breaking scientific results.
The first 2018 grant competitions are now open:
Starting Grants competition with an application deadline of 17 October 2017;
Synergy Grants competition with an application deadline of 14 November 2017.
Some 900 new grantees are expected to benefit from ERC funding next year across all schemes. They will employ an estimated 6,000 post-docs, PhD students and other members as part of their research teams. The Work Programme foresees that the ERC will continue to qualitatively analyse the scientific output of its funded projects with a particular focus on any potential breakthroughs and discoveries.
The European Research Council, set up by the European Union and celebrating its tenth anniversary, is the first European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. It now offers four core grant schemes: Starting Grants (up to €1.5 million each), Consolidator Grants (up to €2 million each), Advanced Grants (up to €2.5 million each), and Synergy Grants (up to €10 million). Every year, it selects and funds ambitious and creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe.
The ERC also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. To date, the ERC has funded more than 7,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers. The funding also helped them employ around 40,000 members of their research teams.
ERC grantees can recruit talent from around the world to their research teams.
This is further encouraged through a set of international agreements with non-European counterparts of the ERC, promoting young researchers to come on research visits and temporarily join ERC teams in Europe.
Agreements have been signed to date with the United States (NSF), South Korea, Argentina, Japan, China, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and Canada.
ERC grants are substantial, but also very competitive: between 10 to 15 % of applicants are awarded grants. The winners can use the money to recruit other researchers and team members, and cover 100% of the direct costs of their research projects for up to five years (and six years in case of Synergy Grants).
The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council, composed of 22 renowned scientists and chaired, since 2014, by ERC President Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. The ERC has a budget of over €13 billion for the years 2014 to 2020 and is part of the EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, for which European Commissioner Carlos Moedas is responsible.