Innovation funding details
FP7 - Specific Programme - Ideas
The specific programme Ideas is implemented by the European Research Council independently of the rest of Framework Programme Seven (FP7) and supports investigator-driven research projects. Individual projects of scientific excellence proposed by creative scientists, engineers and scholars can be funded. Activities should be "frontier research" across disciplines, including engineering, social sciences and the humanities.
|Last Significant Update:||10/01/2013|
|Fund Value:||€ 6,310,278,000|
The overall amount allocated under FP7 to the specific programme Ideas for the period 2007 to 2013 is €7.510 billion.
Two funding streams, operating on a "bottom-up" basis across all research fields, are the core of the European Research Centre's (ERC) operations for the duration of FP7. Priority is being given to an ERC Starting Independent Research Grant, aiming to provide support to the independent careers of excellent researchers at the stage of establishing their first research team or pursuing independent research for the first time. One-third of the ERC's overall annual budget (approximately €300-350 million a year) is earmarked for some 200 Starting Independent Research Grants.
Maximum grant rates are as follows:
- ERC Starting Grants - maximum of €2 million for up to five years (€100,000 to €400,000 per year plus an additional €500,000 for eligible 'start up' costs)
- ERC Advanced Grants - maximum of €3.5 million for up to five years (€100,000 to €500,000 per year plus an additional 1 million for eligible 'start up' costs)
- ERC Proof of Concept Grants - maximum of €150,000 for up to 12 months
Payment of grant
Grants are paid in several instalments. An advance payment (pre-financing) is made within a maximum of forty-five days of the date of entry into force of the ERC grant agreement, which is the date of the last signature of the applicant legal entity and the ERC (whichever is the last).
Interim payments are made on the basis of actual expenditure accepted for each financial management reporting period.
The total amount of the pre-financing and the interim payments will not exceed 90% of the maximum Community financial contribution.
A final payment accords with the last financial management reporting period plus any adjustment needed.
This programme will enhance the dynamism, creativity and excellence of European research at the frontier of knowledge. This will be done by supporting 'investigator-driven' research projects carried out across all fields by individual teams in competition at the European level. Projects will be funded on the basis of proposals presented by researchers both from the private and public sectors on subjects of their choice and evaluated on the sole criterion of excellence as judged by peer review. Communication and dissemination of research results is an important aspect of this programme.
Investigator-driven 'frontier' research, within the framework of activities commonly understood as 'basic research', is a key driver of wealth and social progress as it opens new opportunities for scientific and technological advance, and is instrumental in producing new knowledge leading to future applications and markets.
Despite many achievements and a high level of performance in a large number of fields, Europe is not making the most of its research potential and resources, and urgently needs a greater capacity to generate knowledge and translate such knowledge into economic and social value and growth.
A Europe-wide competitive funding structure (in addition to and not replacing national funding) for frontier research executed by individual teams, which may be of national or transnational character, is a key component of the European Research Area, complementing other Community and national activities. It will help reinforce the dynamism and attractiveness of Europe for the best researchers from both European and third countries, and for industrial investment.
This action will respond to the most promising and productive areas of research and the best opportunities for scientific and technological progress, within and across disciplines, including engineering and social sciences and the humanities. It will be implemented independently of the thematic orientations of the other parts of the Seventh Framework Programme, and will pay attention to new generation researchers and new groups as well as established teams.
The Community activities in frontier research will be implemented by a European Research Council (ERC), consisting of an independent scientific council, supported by a lean and cost-effective dedicated implementation structure. The management of the ERC will be carried out by staff recruited for that purpose, including officials from EU institutions, and will cover only the real administrative needs in order to assure the stability and continuity necessary for an effective administration.
The Scientific Council will consist of representatives of the European scientific community, ensuring a diversity of the research fields, at the highest level, acting in their personal capacity, independently of political or other interests. Its members will be appointed by the Commission following an independent procedure for their identification. They will be appointed for a period of four years, renewable once, on a basis of a rotating system which will ensure the continuity of the Scientific Council's work.
The Scientific Council will, inter alia, establish an overall scientific strategy, have full authority over decisions on the type of research to be funded and act as guarantor of the quality of the activity from the scientific perspective. Its tasks will cover, in particular, the development of the annual work programme, the establishment of the peer review process, as well as the monitoring and quality control of the programme's implementation from the scientific perspective. It will establish a code of conduct addressing, inter alia, the avoidance of conflicts of interest.
The dedicated implementation structure will be responsible for all aspects of implementation and programme execution as provided for in the annual work programme. It will, in particular, implement the peer review and selection process according to the principles established by the Scientific Council and will ensure the financial and scientific management of the grants.
The administrative and staffing costs for the ERC relating to the Scientific Council and dedicated implementation structure will be consistent with lean and cost-effective management; administrative expenditure will be kept to a minimum, consistent with ensuring the resources necessary for high quality implementation.
The Commission will act as the guarantor of the ERC's full autonomy and integrity. It will ensure that the ERC acts in accordance with the principles of scientific excellence, autonomy, efficiency and transparency, and that it follows precisely the strategy and implementation methodology established by the Scientific Council. The Commission will draw up, in cooperation with the scientific council, an annual report on the ERC's operations and realisation of the objectives and submit it to the European Parliament and the Council.
The ERC will have the faculty to conduct its own strategic studies to prepare for and support its operational activities. In particular, it may consult with European, intergovernmental and national initiatives so as to programme its activities in the light of other research at European and national level.
The implementation and management of the activity will be reviewed and evaluated on an on-going basis to assess its achievements and to adjust and improve procedures on the basis of experience. In the context of the interim evaluation referred to in Article 7(2), an independent review will also be carried out of the ERC's structures and mechanisms, against the criteria of scientific excellence, autonomy, efficiency and transparency and with the full involvement of the Scientific Council. The review will explicitly look at the advantages and disadvantages of a structure based on an Executive Agency, and a structure based on Article 171 of the Treaty. On the basis of this review, these structures and mechanisms should be modified as appropriate. The Commission will ensure that all the necessary preparatory work is undertaken and presented to the European Parliament and the Council, with a view to a transition to any modified structure required, as soon as possible. The progress report referred to in Article 7(2), preceding the interim evaluation, will give initial findings on the functioning of the ERC.
ERC Support - Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy (gender aspects): 16 January 2013; ERC Consolidator Grant: 21 February 2013; ERC Proof of Concept: 24 April 2013 and 3 October 2013
Calls For Proposal
Calls for Proposals issued under the Ideas specific programme for the ERC grant scheme are listed below. The official information relating to each Call, ie Call text, Work Programme and Guidance for Applicants, can be accessed via the website:
ERC Calls for Proposals (2014)
The next ERC Work Programme and Calls (2014), which would usually be due to be published in 2013, will be the first Work Programme and Calls under the new Framework Programme Horizon 2020. Negotiations are still ongoing and therefore the publication dates of the next ERC Work Programme and ERC Calls may be different from the usual calendar. Once the Horizon 2020 programme has been adopted, more information on the calendar for the 2014 ERC Calls will be available.
ERC Proof of Concept Grant
- Opened: 10 January 2013
- Intermediate deadline: 24 April 2013
- Final deadline: 3 October 2013
OJ Reference: 2013/C 5/02
Budget: €10 million (approximately €5 million for each evaluation round)
ERC Consolidator Grant
- Deadline: 21 February 2013 (17:00 Brussels local time)
OJ Reference: OJ C339 of 7 November 2012
Budget: €523 million
ERC Synergy Grant
- Deadline: 10 January 2013 (17.00 Brussels local time)
OJ reference: C305 of 10 October 2012
Budget: €150 million
Call to support ERC monitoring and evaluation strategy (gender aspects)
- Deadline: 16 January 2013 (17:00 Brussels local time)
OJ Reference: C296 of 2 October 2012
Last Significant Update Reason
The ERC Proof of Concept Grant is now open to applications.
ERC Proof of Concept grants provide additional funding to ERC grant holders to establish proof of concept, identify a development path and an Intellectual Property Rights strategy for ideas arising from an ERC funded project.
A new Call has now been launched. All Principal Investigators benefitting from an ongoing ERC grant, or where the ERC funded project ended less that 12 months before the publication date of the Call (10 January 2013) are eligible to apply.
A budget of €10 million is available, approximately half of which will be for each of the two evaluation rounds. Grants of up to €150,000 are available for up to 12 months.
The deadlines for the evaluation rounds are 24 April 2013 and 3 October 2013.
For more information, visit the European Commission Participant Portal website (opens new window).
An application for an ERC grant should be submitted by a single Principal Investigator in conjunction with and on behalf of his/her host institution.
The Principal Investigator is the project's lead researcher and must be independent or, for the ERC Starting Grant, at the stage where he/she is establishing independence (ie starting or leading an independent research team) or, depending on the field, establishing an independent research programme.
The Principal Investigator can be of any age, nationality or country of residence.
For the ERC Starting Grant, the Principal Investigator must have been awarded his/her first PhD (or equivalent doctoral degree) more than two and less than nine years prior to the deadline of the Call for Proposals.
Extensions of this period may be allowed in the case of eligible career breaks which must be properly documented: maternity (one year per child born after the PhD award) and paternity leave (accumulation of time off, maximum one year per child born after the PhD award) and leave taken for long-term illness or national service. Leave taken to unavoidable statutory reasons (eg clinical qualifications) may also count as an extension. No allowance will be made for part-time working (two years of half-time working count as two full-time years).
The cumulative eligibility period should not in any case exceed twelve years following the award of the first PhD.
For the ERC Advanced Grant, the Principal Investigator must already be established as an independent research leader in his/her own right. The Principal Investigator may be at any career stage beyond that at which he/she would be eligible for an ERC Starting Grant.
All Principal Investigators benefitting from an ERC Advanced or Starting Grant that is either ongoing, or, where the project has ended less than 12 months before the publication date of the Call, are eligible to participate and apply for ERC proof of concept funding.
The Principal Investigator must be supported by a legally established host institution. This is the "applicant legal entity" for the ERC grant that is legally entitled to receive ERC funds on behalf of the Principal Investigator.
In most cases the Principal Investigator's host institution is the only legal entity which participates in the project. It can be any legal entity (public or private) which has the infrastructure and capacity to carry out a frontier research project - eg a university, research organisation or research-performing company.
The host institution must be situated in the European Union or in an Associated Country. It may also be an International European Interest Organisation, eg CERN, EMBL, ILL, ESO, ESRF.
The Associated Countries are:
- Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway (subject to amendment procedure of EEA agreement);
- Switzerland, Israel (subject to satisfactory conclusion of bilateral S/T agreements);
- Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, FYR of Macedonia (subject to satisfactory completion of the decision-making procedure associating these countries via a Memorandum of Understanding).
Other countries may become associated during the course of FP7.
The European Research Council
For the implementation of the Ideas specific programme, a European Research Council (ERC), consisting of an independent Scientific Council and a Dedicated Implementation Structure, has been created by the Commission. This pan-European funding organisation is designed to support the best scientists, engineers and scholars in Europe.
The ERC, which is established and funded through FP7, has the mandate to encourage the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and to support investigator-initiated frontier research across all field of research, on the basis of scientific excellence.
Grants are awarded and managed according to simple procedures that maintain the focus on excellence, encourage creativity and combine flexibility with accountability.
This programme promotes world class 'frontier research'. The term 'frontier research' reflects a new understanding of basic research. On one hand it denotes that basic research in science and technology is of critical importance to economic and social welfare, and on the other that research at and beyond the frontiers of current understanding is an intrinsically risky venture, progressing on new and most challenging research areas and is characterised by an absence of disciplinary boundaries.
The programme supports individual projects, which may be carried out in any field of basic scientific and technological research which falls within the scope of Community research under FP7 including engineering, socioeconomic sciences and the humanities. As appropriate, specific research topics or target groups (eg, new generation researchers/emerging teams) may be taken into account, following the objectives of the programme and needs for efficient implementation. Particular attention is being paid to emerging and fast-growing areas at the frontier of knowledge, and at the interface between disciplines.
An 'investigator-driven' approach is followed. This means that the programme supports projects carried out by researchers on subjects of their choice within the scope of Calls for Proposals. Proposals are evaluated on the sole criterion of excellence as judged by peer review, taking account of excellence in new groups, new generation researchers, as well as established teams, and paying particular attention to proposals which are highly pioneering and involve correspondingly high scientific risks. Therefore, proposals of an interdisciplinary nature that cross the boundaries between different fields of research, proposals in new and emerging fields, and "high risk, high gain" proposals are encouraged.
As ERC-supported research should aim to broaden scientific and technological knowledge, projects should not be linked to commercial objectives.
ERC Grants Available
- ERC Starting Independent Researcher Grant
The ERC Starting Independent Researcher Grant scheme (ERC Starting Grant) aims to provide adequate support to researchers at the stage at which they are intending to establish or are already leading an independent research team or, depending on the field, developing an independent research programme. Researchers applying for an ERC Starting Grant must be able to demonstrate their potential to perform world-class research. In effect, ERC Starting Grants are designed for upcoming research leaders starting and independent career, having two to nine years of postdoctoral experience, and launching or consolidating their own research team.
- ERC Advanced Investigator Grant
The ERC Advanced Investigator Grant scheme (ERC Advanced Grant) aims to encourage and support excellent, innovative and investigator-initiated research projects carried out by leading advanced investigators. This funding scheme complements the ERC Starting Grant scheme by targeting researchers who have already established themselves as being independent research leaders in their own right. In effect, ERC Advanced Grants are designed for independent research leaders at all career stages (no age limit) and with an outstanding track record.
- ERC Proof of Concept funding
Proof of Concept grants aim to provide additional funding to ERC grant holders to establish proof of concept, identify a development path and an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) strategy for ideas arising from an ERC-funded project. The objective is to provide funds to enable ERC-funded ideas to be brought to a pre-demonstration stage where potential commercialisation opportunities have been identified.
Eligible and non-eligible direct and indirect costs
An ERC grant can cover up to 100% of the total eligible direct costs of the research plus a contribution towards the indirect costs, which cannot exceed 20% of the total eligible direct costs (excluding the direct eligible costs for subcontracting and the costs of reimbursement of resources made available by third parties that are not used on the premises of the beneficiary).
Direct eligible costs are those which support all the research, management, training and dissemination activities necessary for implementing the project, eg:
- Personnel costs.
- Equipment costs.
- Travel and subsistence costs.
- Publication costs (publication of results).
Indirect eligible costs are those which cannot be identified as directly attributable to the project but which are incurred in direct relationship with the project's direct eligible costs, such as:
- Costs related to general administration and management.
- Costs of office or laboratory space, including rent or depreciation of buildings and equipment, and related expenditure such as water, heating, electricity.
- Maintenance, insurance and safety costs.
- Communication expenses, network connection charges, postal charges and office supplies.
- Common office equipment such as PCs, laptops, office software.
- Miscellaneous recurring consumables.
Non-eligible costs, in particular:
- Any identifiable indirect taxes, including VAT or duties.
- Interest owed.
- Provisions for possible future losses or charges.
- Exchange losses.
- Costs declared, incurred or reimbursed in respect of another Community project.
- Costs related to return on capital.
- Debt and debt service charges.
- Excessive or reckless expenditure.
(Note: In certain fields, eg in the humanities and mathematics, research is often performed individually, aside from guiding research students. The term "team" is, therefore, used in the broadest sense. It includes cases where an individual works independently. Since the focus of ERC grants is on the Principal Investigator, the concept of an individual team is fundamentally different from that of a traditional network or research consortium - proposals of that type will not be acceptable under this scheme.)
ERC grants are awarded to a single researcher (a Principal Investigator) who is the project's lead researcher. He/she can be of any age, nationality or country of residence. He/she must be heading an individual research team to conduct a frontier research project on the condition that he/she is engaged by a legally established hosting organisation.
The Principal Investigator does not necessarily need to be employed by the hosting organisation at the time when the proposal is submitted but there should be a mutual agreement on how the relationship will be established should the proposal be successful. In order to be eligible for a grant, the Principal Investigator must be independent or, for the ERC Starting Grant, at the stage at which they are establishing independence (ie starting or leading their first research team) or, depending on the field, establishing their independent research programme.
Independence implies that the Principal Investigator has the authority to:
- Apply for funding independently of senior colleagues.
- Direct the project, manage the research funding and make appropriate resource allocation decisions.
- Publish as senior author and invite as co-author only those who have contributed substantially to the reported work.
- Supervise team members, including research students or others.
- Have access to reasonable space and facilities for conducting the research.
As stated above, the Principal Investigator must be supported by a legally established host institution. This is the "applicant legal entity" for the ERC grant and is legally entitled to receive ERC funds on behalf of the Principal Investigator. If not already employed by the host institution, the Principal Investigator must be engaged by the host institution at least for the duration of the grant. The host institution must be committed to the Principal Investigator's independence and to providing administrative support in managing the ERC research grant.
The host institution can be any legal entity (public or private) which has the infrastructure and capacity to carry out a frontier research project, eg a university, research organisation or research-performing company.
The host institution must be situated in the EU or in an Associated Country. It may also be an International European Interest Organisation. (More information can be found in the NECESSARY QUALIFICATIONS Section of this report.)
The constitution of the individual research team is flexible. Commonly, it involves as team members other researchers from the Principal Investigator's research group or from the same organisation.
However, depending on the nature of a project the research team may also involve team members from other research organisations situated in the same or a different country. Therefore, research teams can be of national or transnational character.
Team members can be of any age, nationality and country of residence. Independence is not required for team members.
Host institutions of team members may be located in any country, including non-European third countries. Their participation (and possible funding to support the work of the respective team members) is subject to appraisal by the ERC peer review evaluation panels, which will assess whether their involvement if properly justified and essential in terms of scientific competences and capacities.
Match Funding Restrictions
Indirect actions can be financed up to 100% under this programme, not requiring match funding.
- In essence, ERC-supported research should aim to broaden scientific and technological knowledge. Therefore, projects should not be linked to commercial objectives.
- Since the focus of ERC grants is on the Principal Investigator, the concept of an individual team is different from that of a traditional network or research consortium - proposals of that type will not be acceptable under this scheme.
- Proposals concerning nuclear energy research on fission and fusion are not eligible under this scheme and should be submitted to Calls for Proposals under the Euratom Research Programme.
- Under the Ideas specific programme, Calls for Proposals will not be issued for:
- Research activity aiming at human cloning for reproductive purposes.
- Research activity intended to modify the genetic heritage of human beings which could make such changes heritable (though research relating to cancer treatment of the gonads may be financed).
- Research activities intended to create human embryos solely for the purpose of research or for the purpose of stem cell procurement, including by means of somatic cell nuclear transfer.
Note: Research on human stem cells, both adult and embryonic, may be financed, depending both on the contents of the scientific proposal and the legal framework of the Member State(s) involved. Any application for financing for research on human embryonic stem cells shall include, as appropriate, details of licensing and control measures that will be taken by the competent authorities of the Member States as well as details of the ethical approval(s) that will be provided. Regarding the derivation of human embryonic stem cells, institutions, organisations and researchers shall be subject to strict licensing and control in accordance with the legal framework of the Member State(s) involved.
Application for funding from the European Research Council is invited through Calls for Proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Union and on the FP7 Participant's Portal website.
Proposals must be submitted only as an electronic proposal via the Electronic Proposal Submission System (EPSS). Note: versions of proposals submitted on a removable electronic storage medium, eg CD-Rom, disc, e-mail or fax, will be excluded.
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