ERC Starting Grants (English)

Eine Glühbirne, in der ein grünes Blatt wächst

The National Contact Point ERC is a cooperation between the EU-Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (EU-Büro des BMBF) and the European Liaison Office of the German Research Organisations (KoWi).

In a nutshell:

  • for scientists 2-7 years after PhD
  • all fields of research
  • project budget: up to 1.5 million euros (exceptions 2 million euros)
  • project duration: up to 5 years

Target Group

The Starting Grant scheme provides support for excellent young scientists 2-7 years  after PhD. The objective is to support the establishment or the consolidation of an own independent research group in order to develop the intellectual capacity and creativity of young promising researchers.

Researchers from all fields of research are eligible to apply. The research project has to be conducted in an institution located in EU member states or associated states. The ERC is particularly keen to encourage proposals from Principal Investigators moving from a third country to Europe.

The aim is to fund projects carried out by individual teams which are headed by a single Principal Investigator (PI). The PI is free to choose team members according to the project needs. Team members may be of any age and any nationality. In exceptional cases, team members can also be located at a different institution than the PI's host institution.

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The ERC funds research projects in all scientific fields, at the frontiers of knowledge. Interdisciplinary projects are highly encouraged.

The PI must have been awarded his/her first PhD at least 2 and up to 7 years prior to the publication date of the call for proposals of the ERC Starting Grant. Exceptional cases may be maternity or paternity leave, long-term illness (over ninety days), clinical qualification or national service. The applicant needs to provide certificates for these cases.

Special Case of "Dr. med."/MD

The German degree "Dr. med. is treated as an MD degree (no PhD equivalence!) therefore the applicant needs to provide in addition to the Dr. med./MD degree:

- proof of an appointment that requires doctoral equivalency (i.e. postdoctoral fellowship, professorship appointment)

The eligibility window is 4-9 years after the awarded Dr. med./MD.

The applicant needs to provide evidence of research experience (including peer reviewed publications) in the CV.

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Proposal Submission

The application procedure consists of a single submission stage but a 2 step evaluation using a web-based electronic proposal submission system. Applications should be submitted by a single Principle Investigator (PI) in conjunction with and on behalf of her/his host institution.

A proposal consists of administrative forms (Part A), a research proposal (Part B section 1 and 2) and supporting documentation. Templates can be downloaded here.

The Administrative Forms (Part A) consist of on-line forms with administrative data.

The Research Proposal (Part B) consists of two sections:

  • Section 1 (B1) will be evaluated at step 1 and step 2 and contains information on the Principal Investigator, as well as an extended synopsis of the scientific proposal (5 pages)
  • Section 2 (B2) contains the full scientific proposal including a justification for the budget (15 pages)

Proposal formats and page numbers are strictly limited. Submission is accepted only via the electronic system. Incomplete proposals are considered ineligible and will not be evaluated. Back to top


A Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator may hold only one grant from the ERC at any one time and may not be associated with more than one application to the ERC calls with deadlines during the same calendar year. Only in the last years of  an ERC project, it is possible to apply for a second grant.

Unsuccessful applicants of previous Calls may be excluded from participating in next Calls. The exact rules will be given in the Work Programme.

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A single submission of an ERC Starting Grant proposal will be followed by a two-step peer review evaluation.

Grant applications are assessed by peer review evaluation panels. These ERC panels assess and score the proposals on the basis of the individual evaluations and on the panel discussion which follows them.

The panels cover all fields of science. For operational reasons they are subdivided into three main research domains: Physical Sciences and Engineering (10 Panels), Life Sciences (9 Panels), Social Sciences and Humanities (6 Panels). The list of panels of the three different domains are described in the Annex of the Guide for Applicants.

The names of the current panel members are not published before the end of the evaluation. The names of previous panel members are listed here.

Excellence is the sole criterion of evaluation. It will be applied to the evaluation of both the Principal Investigator and the research project. For both criteria, the reviewers will give marks:

Step 1 (panel):

  1. of sufficient quality to pass to Step 2 of the evaluation
  2. of high quality but not sufficient to pass to Step 2
  3. of insufficient quality

At step 1 only Part B Section 1 will be evaluated!

Step 2 (panel + remote refereees) :

  1. fully meet the ERC's excellence criterion & recommended for funding if sufficient funds available
  2. meets some but not all elements of the ERC's excellence criterion and will not be funded

At step 2 Part B Section 1 and 2 (B1 and B2) are evaluated and PIs are invited for an interview in order to present and discuss the proposal within the panel. The NCP has published a guide for the interviews (in German only). An English summary thereof will be sent on demand.

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Financial Aspects & Grant Management

Normally, the maximum grant will be 1.5 million euros for a period of 5 years (pro rata for projects of shorter duration). However, additionally 500,000 can be made available to cover (a) eligible "start-up" costs for Principal Investigators moving from a third country to the EU or an associated country or (b) the purchase of major equipment.

An ERC grant can cover up to 100 % of the total eligible and approved direct costs of the research plus a flat-rate financing of indirect costs on the basis of 25 % of the total eligible direct costs (excluding the direct eligible 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 ERC Grant Agreement will be concluded between the ERC Executive Agency and the host institution of the Principal Investigator. However, in case of leaving the Host Institution the PI can take the grant to the new host institution (portability).

The Host Institution (HI) must provide a commitment letter offering appropriate conditions for the PI to direct independently the research and manage its funding for the duration of the project. These conditions, including the 'portability' of the project, are the subject of an agreement between the HI and the PI

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Profiles of successful grantees and projects

For a better orientation it is advisable to look at already funded persons and projects of your specific research field. The ERC website provides complete lists of successful projects from each Call (PI name, title, institution). The CORDIS database allows searching per panel, funding scheme and country and also displays the abstracts of the projects.

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Open calls for proposals

The next Calls for proposals for the Starting Grants will be operated under "Horizon 2020" (2014-2020), with deadlines expected to be on 25 March 2014 and on 3 February 2015.

Open calls can be found on the Participant Portal.

All relevant documents are available here.

Results of previous Calls

Results of the previous calls (lists of funded projects and statistics) can be found at the ERC website

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