Horizon Europe: Excellent Science - European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant 2024


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Organization:
European Commision
Scope:
International
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Official deadline:
Description:

Introduction

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 five main grant programmes to support projects and investigators at progressive stages of development: this Consolidator Grant, plus the Proof of Concept Grant, Starting Grant, Advanced Grant, and Synergy 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, guided 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.

ERC Consolidator Grants are designed to support excellent Principal Investigators (PIs) at the career stage at which they may still be consolidating their own independent research team or programme. Applicant Principal Investigators must demonstrate the groundbreaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their scientific proposal.

Funding is for frontier research in any field. Proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries, pioneering ideas that address new and emerging fields and applications that introduce unconventional, innovative approaches are particularly encouraged.

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

Budget

The 2024 budget for Consolidator Grants is €583.9 million to fund an estimated 291 grants.

Individual grants are available up to a maximum of €2 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.

Requirements

The Principal Investigator (PI) should have successfully defended their first PhD more than seven and less than twelve years prior to the Call for Proposals. Successful Consolidator Grant Principal Investigators must have already shown research independence and evidence of maturity, for example by having produced several important publications without the participation of their PhD supervisor.

Applicant PIs 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 40% of their working time on the ERC project and at least 50% of their time 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. The host institution must engage the PI for at least the duration of the project.

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.

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

  • Starting Grant - The Principal Investigator should have successfully defended 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.
  • Advanced Grant - applicants are expected to be active researchers and to have a track record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years.

Considering the Union's interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe.

In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

Request

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

Deadline for 2024 call:

  • Opening date: 12 September 2023.
  • Deadline: 12 December 2023.

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.

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