ERC Funding Lines

The European Research Council (ERC) supports excellent researchers and their teams by funding ground-breaking research projects. The ERC approach is investigator-driven and operates on a ‘bottom-up’ basis.

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The European Research Council in a Nutshell

The European Research Council (ERC) is an institution established by the European Commission to encourage cutting-edge frontier research.

It supports ground-breaking project ideas from excellent scientists in all fields of research. Scientific excellence, both with regards to the research project idea and the researchers themselves, is the sole evaluation criterion for funding. The ERC provides funding in accordance with funding lines corresponding to certain career stages.

The ERC first was established in 2007 and has continued its work through several EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation through to this day. It is headed by a Scientific Council, a committee of eminent scientists and scholars. As an independent body, the Scientific Council is responsible for the ERC’s strategic orientation. Between 2021 and 2027, the ERC will be funded through the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation ‘Horizon Europe’.

Who can apply?

The ERC offers funding to individual researchers, meaning that funding is aimed exclusively at individual, excellent researchers and their teams.
Depending on the individual career stage and the specific project needs, the following ERC funding lines can be applied for:

  • Starting Grants for researchers with 2 to 7 years of experience since completing their doctorate with up to 1.5 million euro over a maximum of 5 years
  • Consolidator Grants for researchers with 7 to 12 years of experience since completing their doctorate with up to 2 million euro over a maximum of 5 years
  • Advanced Grants for established researchers with up to 2.5 million euro over a maximum of 5 years
  • Synergy Grants for groups of 2 to 4 researchers and their teams, with up to 10 million euro over a maximum of 6 years

Researchers who have already received an ERC grant for their research project and would like to follow up on their project by exploring its innovation, commercial or societal potential can also apply to ERC Proof of Concept (PoC) calls.

ERC PoC grant recipients are also eligible to apply for the newly introduced European Innovation Council (EIC) programme with its EIC Transition Open funding scheme under Horizon Europe.

Furthermore, the ERC offers various opportunities for researchers to gain experience in on-going ERC projects.

In Brief: What distinguishes the ERC?

  • The ERC funds ground-breaking “frontier research” and supports the best of the best in Europe across all fields of science.
  • The primary focus of evaluation is on the scientific excellence of the project proposal, and excellence is the sole criterion in assessing the applicants as well.
  • The ERC funds open-topic projects, meaning project ideas from all research fields.
  • The ERC funds individual researchers and their teams (larger consortia of multiple research institutes in various countries are not funded, though collaborative projects involving 2 to 4 individual researchers at different research institutes in different countries can be funded).
  • The ERC Scientific Council defines the ERC call guidelines and, by doing so, guarantees a programme by researchers for researchers.
  • The ERC has set itself the goal of establishing and utilising unbureaucratic and transparent procedures.