ERC Project Management

ERC projects are generally conducted in accordance with the standard regulations of Horizon Europe. Nevertheless, some special features for ERC measures must also be taken into account.

Hiking shoes, a map, a compass and a rope with snap hooks are lying on the wooden floor.

Adobe Stock / fotofabrika

ERC projects are generally conducted in accordance with the standard regulations of Horizon Europe. Nevertheless, some special features for ERC measures must also be taken into account.

Once an ERC project proposal has successfully been evaluated and has been proposed for funding, the ERC Executive Agency (ERCEA) prepares a grant agreement on the basis of the project proposal.

The grant agreement is concluded between the EU (represented by the ERCEA) and the host institution where the ERC project is to be conducted. A model grant agreement is used as the basis for the preparation of ERC contracts. There are only few points defining individual provisions that deviate from the model grant agreement.

The grant agreement regulates the rights and obligations of the contractual parties, in particular with regards to conducting the project, the use of funding and the reporting obligations of the project participants.

It includes:

  • the right of the Principal Investigator (PI) to change host institution at any time (portability of grants),
  • the obligation of the PI to spend a certain amount of working time on the project, depending on the funding line (time commitment),
  • the commitment of the PI to conduct at least 50 percent of the project work in Europe and
  • the commitment to communicate the project and its results.

In addition to the grant agreement, the host institution and the PI conclude a Supplementary Agreement.
According to this agreement, the host institution commits itself to providing the PI with the support necessary to properly conduct the project and to guarantee scientific independence.

ERC Team Recruitment

The project team should finish being formed at the start of the project if not all members have already been found. Scientists can be recruited via the EURAXESS Portal in addition to other advertising possibilities.
Further recruiting possibilities can be found here.

ERC Project Communication

ERC grantees have a contractual obligation to communicate the content of their ERC project beyond the scientific community. The ERC is particularly supportive of those that address audiences outside their field of expertise.
Read more here

Eligible costs

ERC project funding rates are in line with the general rules for research activities in Horizon Europe.

Eligible costs are 100 percent of direct costs and indirect eligible project costs. These include, but are not limited to, personnel costs for the PI(s) and their research team, travel costs, costs for major equipment and materials, subcontracting as well as costs for public relations and publications.

Publications arising from the ERC project must be open access and count as eligible costs. Guidance, in particular on journals and repositories, can be found here (-> Horizon Europe(2021-2027) -> 3.Open acces cost in Horizon Europe).

Indirect Costs or overhead costs are funded at a flat rate of 25 percent of the direct costs. Costs for subcontracts as well as costs for grants to third parties may not be included in the calculation of this lump sum.
Budget shifts during the project period, for example unused personnel costs or the carrying forward of leftover budget into the second reporting period, are possible. If uncertain, please consult the responsible ERC Executive Agency Project Officer.

Certain adjustments, however, require a formal contractual amendment. These amendments include subcontracts not listed in the proposal and changes that impact the project’s scientific results and therefore represent significant changes to the project schedule.

Verification and Reporting Requirements

All costs must be verifiable. For this purpose, costs should be described in the project plan in addition to being recorded according to host institute’s standard accounting regulations and procedures.

The actual working hours of the project staff must also be documented for ERC projects. Employees who spend only part of their working time on the project must keep time sheets. Employees who work 100 percent on the ERC project can submit simplified declarations, so-called declarations of honour, instead of timesheets. (German Horizon Europe web portal).

In Horizon Europe, all reports are submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal. Reporting requirements are divided into the financial report and the scientific report. The host institution is generally responsible for complying with reporting requirements while PIs are responsible for scientific reporting.

Scientific Progress Report

For ERC Actions, the PI must submit a scientific mid-term report. This report describes, among other things, the progress of the project in terms of content, the results of the project to date, the publications achieved and changes over the course of the project. Additionally, a publishable summary of the project’s progress to date must be included. At the end of the project, a final scientific report must be submitted describing the final results of the project, listing all publications and, again, including a publishable summary of the project.

Link to:

Financial Report

In addition to the PI's Scientific Progress Report, the host institution must submit Financial Reports. Unlike those in Horizon Europe collaborative projects, the deadlines for scientific progress reports and the financial reports are different in ERC projects. Generally, a financial report must be submitted once 18 months have concluded.

The financial report must contain a description including information on eligible costs. In addition, a detailed list of direct costs incurred by the institution during the reporting period and an updated overview of the budget planning for the upcoming reporting periods must be submitted. If other institutions are involved in the project in addition to the host institution (additional institutions or affiliated institutions), each additional institution must prepare its own financial statement (individual financial statement). A summary financial statement is then automatically generated on the basis of the individual reports in the participant portal.

Payments in the EU Project

The ERC grants are paid as pre-financing at the beginning of the project. The date of disbursement is agreed in advance in the Grant Agreement and can be paid within 30 days after concluding the agreement, 30 days after the start of the project or up to 45 days before the project’s start date. Further payments are made in each case after the periodic financial reports have been audited.

Special Rules for Proof of Concept

The ERC Proof of Concept funds are lump sums. This means that each successful proposal is granted 150,000 euro to conduct the project. No budget overview needs to be prepared during the submission phase. Even so, costs that will be incurred during the project must be described in the application. Only costs that would also be reimbursable in an ERC application based on actual costs can be funded by the lump sum. This may include personnel costs, subcontracts as well as other direct and indirect costs

for example

  • costs may be related to work review steps,
  • validation of results,
  • clarification of IPR or knowledge transfer strategies,
  • market analysis,
  • etc.

Unlike other ERC applications, which are based on actual costs, Proof of Concept grants do not require cost reporting. There are no financial audits. However, the project must meet certain quality conditions and deliver the described results in order for the lump sum to be paid in full.