The Ideas programme is a unique research programme that funds "Frontier Research” on the basis of scientific excellence. Research can be carried out in the areas of science or technology (Including engineering), socio-economic sciences and the humanities.

For the implementation of the Ideas programme, a European Research Council (ERC), consisting of an independent Scientific Council and a dedicated implementation structure has been established by the European Commission to support investigator-driven frontier research. The main aim of ERC is to fuel scientific excellence by supporting and encouraging the very best, truly creative scientists, scholars and engineers to be adventurous and take risks in their research.

The ERC complements other funding activities in Europe such as those of the national research funding agencies, and is a flagship component of the 'Ideas Programme' of the European Union's FP7.

Early stage researchers, as well as experienced investigators, from across Europe can avail the ERC grants of € 7.5 billion over 7 years.

The ERC aims to:

  • Support the best scientific efforts in Europe across all fields of science, scholarship and engineering.
  • Promote wholly ‘investigator-driven’ or 'bottom-up' frontier research.
  • Persuade 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.
  • Connect the diversity of European research talent and channel funds into the most promising or distinguished researchers.
  • Raise the status and visibility of European frontier research and the very best researchers of today and tomorrow.
  • Set an excellence at the heart of European Research.

The EIRC aims to bring about a wide range of benefits:

  • By creating open and direct competition for funding between the very best researchers in Europe, the ERC will enhance aspirations and achievements. It will enable the best ideas and talents to be recognized from a larger pool than exists at national level.
  • The ERC's competitive funding will be able to channel funds into the most promising new fields, with a degree of agility not always possible in national funding schemes.
  • The ERC aims to stimulate research organisations to invest more in the support of promising new talents - the next generation of research leaders in Europe.
  • On the economic side, the ERC will help foster science-based industry and create a greater impetus for the establishment of research-based spin-offs.
  • From a societal perspective, the ERC could provide a mechanism for investing rapidly in research targeted at new and emerging issues confronting society.
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Types of ERC Grants:

The ERC has two main funding schemes, Starting and Advanced Grants. Both these operate on a “bottom-up” basis across all research fields. In addition to the main funding schemes, the ERC also has Coordinating and Supporting Calls.

  1. ERC Starting Independent Researcher Grants (ERC Starting Grants)
  2. ERC Advanced Investigator Grants (ERC Advanced Grants)


1. ERC Starting Independent Researcher Grants (ERC Starting Grants)

Aim: support up-and-coming research leaders who are about to establish or consolidate a proper research team and to start conducting independent research in Europe.

Research proposal: pioneering frontier research in any field of science, engineering and scholarship

Principal Investigator: candidates can be of any nationality, and must have obtained their PhD (or equivalent degree more than three years but less than eight years prior to the opening date of the relevant call for proposals (justified extensions of this period may be accepted, see ERC guide for applicants - grant schemes

Host organisation: It consists of legally recognized public or private research organisation situated in an EU Member State or an Associated Country

Funding: up to € 2.0 M per grant

Duration: up to 5 years

Calls for proposals: Published annually in summer (normally late July each year) with deadlines in autumn.


2. ERC Advanced Investigator Grants (ERC Advanced Grants)

Aim: Targets researchers who have already established themselves as independent research leaders in their own right.

Research proposal: pioneering frontier research in any field of science, engineering and scholarship

Principal Investigator: candidates can be of any nationality, must be scientifically independent and have a recent research track-record and profile which identifies them as leaders in their respective field(s) of research

Host organisation: It consists of legally recognized public or private research organisation situated in an EU Member State or an Associated Country. Provide link

Funding: up to € 3.5 M per grant (normally up to € 2.5 M)

Duration: up to 5 years

Calls for proposals: published annually in autumn with deadlines in spring

More information...

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