Horizon Europe - Excellent Science - European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants

Convocatòria tancada
Entitat convocant:
European Comission
Termini FSJD:
Up to €2.000.000


The European Research Council (ERC) provides attractive, long-term funding to support excellent investigators and their research teams to pursue ground-breaking, high gain and high risk research. The ERC is a key component of Horizon Europe and complements other European research and innovation platforms, such as those of the national research funding agencies.

Call objectives

The ERC operates four main grant programmes to support projects, and investigators, at progressive stages of development: this Advanced Grant, plus the Proof of Concept Grant, Starting Grant and Consolidator Grant.

Research funded by the ERC is expected to lead to advances at the frontiers of knowledge and to set a clear and inspirational target for frontier research across Europe. It operates using an 'investigator-driven' approach based solely on scientific excellence to solicit new opportunities and directions in any field of research, as identified by researchers themselves, rather than support priorities set by parties outside of the research community. This 'bottom-up' attitude to research funding ensures that support is aimed primarily at new and promising opportunities, with a greater degree of flexibility.

Running in parallel with its research funding support objectives, the ERC also aims to fortify and shape the European research system, piloted by high quality peer review, the establishment of international benchmarks of success, and the provision of up-to-date information on who is succeeding and why.

Overall, the ERC aims to:

  • Support the best of the best in Europe across all fields of science, scholarship and engineering.
  • Promote wholly investigator-driven or 'bottom-up' frontier research.
  • Encourage the work of the established and next generation of independent top research leaders in Europe.
  • Reward innovative proposals by placing emphasis on the quality of the idea rather than the research area.
  • Raise the status and visibility of European frontier research and the very best researchers of today and tomorrow.

Applications may be made in any field of research. Support is available for frontier research. Proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries, pioneering ideas that address new and emerging fields and applications that introduce unconventional, innovative approaches are particularly encouraged. Applicant Principal Investigators must demonstrate the ground breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their scientific proposal.

Beneficiaries of ERC grants must ensure open access to all peer-reviewed scientific publications relating to their results.


The 2021 budget for Starting Grants is €613 million to fund an estimated 413 grants. Individual grant levels vary as follows:

  • Up to a maximum of €1.5 million for a period of five years.
  • Additionally, up to €1 million can be requested to cover:
    • Eligible 'start-up' costs for Principal Investigators moving to the EU or an Associated Country from elsewhere as a consequence of receiving the ERC grant.
    • Purchase of major equipment.
    • Access to large facilities.
    • Other major experimental and field work costs, excluding personnel costs.

Eligible project costs will be reimbursed at a funding rate of 100% for direct costs plus a flat-rate of 25% for indirect costs.

Requested costs must be justified on the basis of the costs incurred for the project, and received funds may be lower than the budget requested.



The Principal Investigator (PI) should have been awarded their first PhD more than two years, and less than seven years prior to the Call for Proposals. Applicants are expected to have produced at least one important publication without the participation of their PhD supervisor.

Applicant Principal Investigators should also be able to demonstrate a promising track record of early achievements appropriate to their research field and career stage, including significant publications (as main author) in major international peer-reviewed multidisciplinary scientific journals, or in the leading international peer-reviewed journals of their respective field. They may also demonstrate a record of invited presentations in well-established international conferences, granted patents, awards, prizes etc.

PIs of any age and nationality may apply to carry out research in a host institution established in an EU Member State or Associated Country. The researcher may be residing in any country in the world at the time of application, but the host institution must be in an EU Member state or Associated Country. PIs must intend to spend at least 50% of their working time on the ERC project in an EU Member State or Associated Country.

The grant is awarded to the institution that engages and hosts the Principal Investigator. Public or private institutions, including universities, research organisations and undertakings can host the Principal Investigator.

Where they bring scientific added value to the project, additional team members may also be hosted by additional legal entities which may be established anywhere, including outside the EU or Associated Countries, or international organisations. Such entities are eligible for funding when they host additional team members, provided that they are not covered by Council sanctions.

A researcher may participate as Principal Investigator in only one ERC frontier research project at any one time.

Researchers with more experience are advised to consider applying to one of the following funding streams:

  • Consolidator Grant - The Principal Investigator should have been awarded their first PhD more than seven and less than twelve years prior to the Call for Proposals. Applicants are expected to have produced several important publications without the participation of their PhD supervisor.
  • Advanced Grant - Applicants are expected to be active researchers and to have a track record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years.

While there are currently no countries officially associated to Horizon Europe, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries, or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe, including the United Kingdom, are eligible to apply on a conditional basis and will be eligible to receive funding provided that an association agreement is signed by the applicant's country at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

In the 2020 round of funding, 436 researchers of 40 different nationalities received funding out of 3,272 applicants, a success rate of 13.3%.



Applications are made online through the Funding and Tenders Portal. Proposals are submitted by the Principal Investigator who has scientific responsibility for the project, on behalf of the host institution.

2021 deadlines:

  • Call opens: 25 February 2021.
  • Call deadline: 8 April 2021.

A single submission of the full proposal will be followed by a two-step evaluation. For all ERC frontier research grants, scientific excellence is the sole criterion of evaluation. The evaluation will be conducted by high level peer review panels. Applicant Principal Investigators can request during the electronic proposal submission that up to three specific persons should not act as a peer reviewer in the evaluation of their proposal.

It is expected that Principal Investigators will be able to start their project within six months of receiving an invitation letter from the ERC.

In case of interest, please contact lnorton(ELIMINAR)@fsjd.org