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The European Research Council (ERC)

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ERC grants support individual researchers of any nationality and age who wish to pursue their frontier research. The ERC encourages in particular proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries, pioneering ideas that address new and emerging fields and applications that introduce unconventional, innovative approaches.

The ERC has developed five funding schemes and has a budget of about 11.9 bn Euro (2014-20).

ERC funding schemes

Principles of the ERC

  • scientific excellence is the sole evaluation criterion
  • projects in all fields of research are eligible for funding ("bottum up")
  • funding of pioneering high-gain/high risk proposals of an interdisciplinary nature addressing new and emerging fields of research
  • The ERC consists of a Scientific Council and an Executive Agency and operates with autonomy and integrity guaranteed by the European Commission

Frontier Research

The term 'frontier research' reflects a new understanding of basic research. On one hand it denotes that basic research in science and technology is of critical importance to economic and social welfare, and on the other that research at and beyond the frontiers of understanding is an intrinsically risky venture, progressing on new and most exiting research areas and is characterized by an absence of disciplinary boundaries.

Submission of proposals

Proposals must be submitted electronically via the web-based Participant Portal. The proposals are submitted by the PI who has scientific responsibility for the project, on behalf of the host institution which is the applicant legal entity.

PIs from anywhere in the world can apply for an ERC grant provided their host institution is established in a Member State or an Associated Country.

The constitution of the research team is flexible. Commonly, it involves researchers from the PI's research group or from the same organisation as team members. However, depending on the nature of a project the research team may also involve team members from other research organisations situated in the same or a different country. Team members may be of any age and nationality and may reside in any country in the world; independence is not required.


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 25 high level peer review panels.The allocation of the proposals to the various panels will be based on the expressed preference of the applicant. For all ERC grants, excellence is the sole criterion of evaluation.

Evaluation criteria:

  • Potential of the to perform world class research  (intellectual capacity, creativity and commitment)
  • Quality of the proposed research project (ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility)

Financial and legal aspects

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. For durable equipment, only the proportional depreciation costs per reporting period can be charged.

The grant agreement will be concluded between the ERC and the PI's host institution. Additionally, a supplementary agreement is requested, which will be concluded between the host institution and the PI. The PI has the right to require the transfer of the research project to a new beneficiary (host institution), for as long as the research objectives of the project are preserved.

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