On 24th of September, Pr. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, president of the European Research Council (ERC), gave a presentation at the Australian Academy of Science to promote the ERC programs and the opportunities available for the Australian researchers.
Horizon 2020, with a budget of €77 billion over 7 years (2014-2020), is the biggest European research and innovation funding program ever. It is implemented via multi-annual work programs, amongst which the ERC schemes cover 17% of the budget (€13 billion).
The main characteristic of the ERC grants is that it is focused on the principal investigator. It offers grantees independence, recognition and visibility for 5 to 6 years, and attracts top team members and collaborators (European or not) and additional funding, as ERC is a quality label. The grants are portable, and offer the possibility for the grantees to negotiate the best conditions of work with the host institution, or to move to any place in Europe.
Australian researchers are eligible for all the ERC Schemes with the condition that they spend 50% of their working time in a European research institution. Additional funding is available to cover ‘start-up’ costs for scientists moving to Europe (up to 500k€ for Starting grantees, 750 k€ for Consolidator grantees, and up to 1 M€ for Advanced grantees). Dual affiliation is also possible.
The Synergy grants scheme is fostering international collaboration: 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.
The ERC grants have no constraints on eligible costs as long as they are for the execution of the project, and request very light reporting. They are also very flexible, for example, the aims of the project can be modified through amendments to the grant agreement.
The main selection criterion for the ERC grants is the scientific quality of the projects. Researchers must prove they can achieve challenging research with scientific and/or industrial impact.
The projects are assessed by 25 panels distributed in 3 scientific domains (10 Physical sciences, 9 Life sciences and 6 Social sciences and Humanities) through a peers review procedure.
The ERC president also announced that an arrangement should be signed soon between ERC and NHMRC and ARC to foster the visit of Australian researchers to participate in principal investigators research. This kind of arrangement exists already with a number of countries (USA, Republic of Korea, China, Japan, Argentina…) and is implemented with an annual procedure:
More information on: https://erc.europa.eu/
National contact points in your country: https://erc.europa.eu/funding/national-contact-points