ERC Synergy Grants
The aim of Synergy Grants is to address ambitious research questions that can only be answered by the coordinated work of a small group of two to four principal Investigators and their teams, bringing together their complementary skills, knowledge and resources in unprecedented ways. The ultimate goal of the scheme is to give support to a close collaborative interaction that will enable transformative research at the forefront of science, capable of yielding ground-breaking or even unpredictable scientific results and/or cross-fertilizing disciplines. The ambition is of course to open the way to results that are more than just the sum of the Principal Investigators' individual contributions.
The scheme is open to all researchers from anywhere in the world, based in Europe or in an Associated Country. Each Principal Investigator must be hosted by and spend 50% of their total working time in an institution established in an EU Member State or Associated Country. They shall spend a minimum of 30% of their total working time on the ERC project. There are no other specific requirements other than high scientific quality and ambition enhanced by the synergetic collaborative aspect of the project. Only exceptionally competitive proposals are likely to be funded.
Depending on the evaluation result, reapplication rules will apply to all Principal Investigators participating in a proposal, which may affect their application possibilities to all ERC calls under the 2019 ERC Work Programme.
Who can apply?
A group of two to maximum four Principal Investigators (PIs) – of which one will be designated as the corresponding PI (cPI) – working together and bringing different skills and resources to tackle ambitious research problems. No specific eligibility criteria regarding the academic training are foreseen for ERC Synergy Grants. PIs must present an early achievement track-record or a ten-year track-record, whichever is most appropriate.
Proposals will be evaluated on the sole criterion of scientific excellence which, in the case the ERC Synergy Grants, takes on the additional meaning of outstanding intrinsic synergetic effect.
What proposals are eligible?
Applications can be made in any field of research.
The ERC's grants operate on a 'bottom-up' basis without predetermined priorities. In the case of the ERC Synergy Grants, applications must demonstrate that the proposed research cannot be carried out by a single PI working alone.
Research must be conducted by all PIs in a public or private research organisation (known as a Host Institution, HI). It could be the HI where the applicant already works, or any other HI established in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries.
Applications for an ERC Synergy Grant must be submitted by a minimum of two to a maximum of four Principal Investigators (PI), with one of the PIs acting as corresponding PI (cPI). The cPI will act as a contact point of behalf of the group.
PIs can apply within the same HI or through different HIs. Where the different PIs may be hosted by more than one HI, each of these HIs shall offer their support to the PI(s) hosted by them for the duration of the grant. At submission stage, however, only the cHI must provide the host support letter for the cPI and any other PI that will be hosted by the cHI.
The ERC Synergy Grant is awarded to the cHI that engages and hosts the cPI for at least the duration of the grant, and to any other HI that engages and hosts other PIs participating in the project. The host institutions must engage the PIs for at least the duration of the grant and must offer appropriate conditions for PIs supported to independently direct the proposed research and manage the project's funding for its duration.
The PIs do not necessarily need to be working at the HI indicated in the proposal at the time when it is submitted. However, a mutual agreement – called supplementary agreement – and the host institutions' commitment on how the relationship will be established are necessary, should the proposal be successful.
ERC Synergy grants support projects carried out by a group of two to four individual researchers who can employ researchers of any nationality as team members. It is also possible to have one or more team members located in a third country
Synergy Grants can be up to a maximum of € 10 million for a period of 6 years (pro rata for projects of shorter duration). However an addition € 4 million can be requested in the proposal in total to cover:
- eligible 'start-up' costs for Principal Investigators moving to the EU or an Associated Country from elsewhere as a consequence of receiving an ERC grant and/or
- the purchase of major equipment and/or
- access to large facilities.
An ERC grant can cover up to 100% of the total eligible direct costs of the research plus a contribution of 25% of the total eligible costs towards indirect costs.