Are you a researcher or scientist looking to secure funding for your groundbreaking project? Look no further than the European Research Council (ERC) Grant. The ERC Grant is one of the most prestigious and competitive funding opportunities available, providing substantial financial support for cutting-edge research across various disciplines.
However, navigating the application process can be daunting and time-consuming. That’s where our step-by-step guide comes in. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the entire application process, from understanding the eligibility criteria to crafting a compelling research proposal that stands out among the competition.
The Eligibility Criteria of ERC Grants
Before diving into the application process, it’s essential to understand the eligibility criteria for the ERC Grant. The ERC Grant is open to researchers of any nationality who are looking to conduct their research in Europe. There are no restrictions based on age or career level, making it an attractive option for both early-career researchers and established scientists.
To be eligible for the ERC Grant, you must have a Ph.D. degree or equivalent, and you should have a track record of significant research achievements within the last ten years. The ERC evaluates the excellence of the researcher rather than the institution they are affiliated with, making it a highly merit-based funding opportunity.
Additionally, the ERC Grant is available for research projects in any field of science, ranging from physical sciences and engineering to social sciences and humanities. However, it’s important to note that the ERC has three main grant categories: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, and Advanced Grants, each targeting researchers at different stages of their careers.
Types of ERC Grants
The ERC offers three main types of grants, each catering to researchers at different stages of their careers:
These grants are designed for early-career researchers who are 2 to 7 years into their independent research careers after obtaining their Ph.D. Starting Grants provide funding of up to 1.5 million euros for a period of up to five years.
Consolidator Grants target researchers who are 7 to 12 years into their independent research careers after obtaining their Ph.D. These grants provide funding of up to 2 million euros for a period of up to five years.
Advanced Grants are aimed at established researchers with a track record of significant research achievements in the last ten years. These grants provide funding of up to 2.5 million euros for a period of up to five years.
Considering your career stage and the requirements of each grant category is crucial in identifying the right ERC Grant for your research project. It’s important to note that the evaluation criteria and expectations differ for each grant category, so carefully assessing your eligibility and aligning it with your research goals is a crucial first step.
Step By Step Process for Applying for an ERC Grant
Here are the best steps to take when applying for an ERC grant.
Identifying the right ERC Grant for your research project
To identify the right ERC Grant for your research project, consider factors like your career stage, research goals, and alignment with the ERC’s evaluation criteria. Assess your career stage, research project novelty, and potentially groundbreaking discoveries. Familiarize yourself with the evaluation criteria specific to each grant category, such as Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, and Advanced Grants. Understanding these criteria will help tailor your application and maximize your chances of success.
Preparing your research proposal
Once you have identified the right ERC Grant for your research project, it’s time to start preparing your research proposal. The research proposal is a crucial component of your application and plays a significant role in determining whether your project will receive funding.
To make your research proposal stand out, consider the following tips:
- Clearly state the research question or problem your project aims to address. Explain why it is important and how your research will contribute to existing knowledge in the field.
- Outline the scientific approach and methodologies you plan to use. Provide a detailed description of the experimental design or theoretical frameworks you will employ.
- Highlight the potential impact and societal relevance of your research. Explain how your findings could contribute to scientific advancements, technological innovations, or social and economic development.
- Consider interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships. If your research project involves interdisciplinary approaches or collaboration with other research groups, highlight the added value and potential synergies.
- Pay attention to the structure and clarity of your proposal. Use clear and concise language, organize your ideas logically, and ensure that your proposal is easy to read and understand.
Remember, the ERC Grant evaluation process is highly competitive, and your research proposal needs to be exceptional to stand out among the numerous applications received. Seek feedback from colleagues and mentors, revise and refine your proposal multiple times, and consider reaching out to successful ERC Grant recipients for insights and advice.
Finding a host institution and supervisor
In addition to a compelling research proposal, you will also need to find a host institution and supervisor for your ERC Grant application. The host institution is the organization that will employ and provide support to the researcher throughout the duration of the grant. The supervisor is an experienced researcher who will provide guidance and support to the grant recipient.
When searching for a host institution and supervisor, consider the following factors:
Research environment and facilities
Look for institutions that have a strong research infrastructure and facilities relevant to your field of study. Consider the availability of specialized equipment, research centers, and collaborations with other research groups.
Track record and expertise
Evaluate the institution’s track record in conducting cutting-edge research and its expertise in your specific field of study. Consider the publication record, research projects, and reputation of the institution and potential supervisor.
Compatibility and support
Ensure that there is a good fit between your research interests and the expertise of the potential supervisor. Consider their availability, willingness to support your project, and their track record in mentoring and supporting early-career researchers.
Career development opportunities
Look for institutions that offer career development programs, networking opportunities, and support for research dissemination and knowledge transfer. Consider the potential for personal and professional growth during the grant period.
Once you have identified potential host institutions and supervisors, reach out to them to discuss your research project and gauge their interest and availability. Establishing a strong connection with your host institution and supervisor is crucial for a successful ERC Grant application, as it demonstrates the feasibility and support for your research project.
Budgeting for your ERC Grant application
Budgeting is an important aspect of your ERC Grant application and requires careful consideration. The budget outlines the resources and funding required to conduct your research project successfully.
When budgeting for your ERC Grant application, consider the following:
Include the salary and benefits of the researcher(s) working on the project, including yourself if you are the principal investigator. Take into account the duration of the project and any potential salary increments.
Equipment and materials
Estimate the costs of any specialized equipment, software, or materials required for your research project. Consider the availability of existing resources and collaborations with other institutions to minimize costs.
Travel and mobility costs
If your research project involves international collaborations, conferences, or fieldwork, include the costs of travel, accommodation, and subsistence. Consider any visa or work permit requirements that may impact the budget.
Many funding agencies, including the ERC, allow for the inclusion of overhead costs to cover the indirect expenses associated with the research project. These costs typically include administrative support, office space, utilities, and access to research facilities.
Consider any additional expenses specific to your research project, such as publication fees, data management costs, or intellectual property protection.
It’s important to note that the ERC Grant has specific rules and guidelines regarding budgeting, and it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with these requirements. Consult the ERC Grant website or contact the ERC National Contact Point in your country for detailed information and guidance on budgeting for your application.
Writing the ERC Grant application
Now that you have a well-crafted research proposal, a host institution, and a budget for your ERC Grant application, it’s time to start writing the application itself. The ERC Grant application consists of several sections, each requiring careful attention and consideration.
When writing your ERC Grant application, consider the following tips:
Start with a compelling abstract
The abstract is the first section of your application that reviewers will read, so make it engaging and concise. Clearly state the objectives, research question, and potential impact of your project.
Clearly articulate the excellence and novelty of your project
Emphasize the scientific excellence, innovative approach, and potential breakthroughs of your research. Clearly state how your project aligns with the evaluation criteria of the ERC Grant you are applying for.
Provide a comprehensive literature review
Demonstrate a deep understanding of the current state of research in your field. Highlight the gaps in existing knowledge and explain how your project will address these gaps.
Clearly outline the objectives and methodologies
Clearly articulate the research objectives and explain how you plan to achieve them. Provide a detailed description of the research methodologies, experimental design, or theoretical frameworks you will employ.
Discuss the potential impact and significance of your research
Explain how your findings could contribute to scientific advancements, technological innovations, or social and economic development. Highlight any potential applications or benefits that could arise from your research.
Consider the structure and organization
Ensure that your application is well-structured and organized. Use clear headings and subheadings, and clearly separate different sections of your application. This will make it easier for reviewers to navigate and understand your proposal.
Seek feedback and revisions
Before submitting your application, seek feedback from colleagues, mentors, and experts in your field. Incorporate their suggestions and revise your application multiple times to ensure clarity and coherence.
Remember, the ERC Grant application is highly competitive, and reviewers typically have limited time to review each application. Make sure your application is clear, concise, and engaging to capture the attention of the reviewers and increase your chances of success.
Submitting your ERC Grant application
After months of preparation and hard work, it’s finally time to submit your ERC Grant application. Before submitting, carefully review the application guidelines and requirements to ensure that all necessary documents and forms are included.
When submitting your ERC Grant application, consider the following:
Submit well in advance of the deadline
Avoid last-minute submissions to minimize the risk of technical issues or unexpected delays. Submit your application well in advance to allow time for any unforeseen circumstances.
Double-check all documents and forms
Ensure that all required documents, such as the research proposal, budget, CV, and letters of support, are included and formatted correctly. Check for any formatting or length requirements specified in the application guidelines.
Submit through the appropriate online portal
The ERC Grant application is typically submitted through an online portal. Familiarize yourself with the submission process, including any technical requirements or restrictions, and follow the instructions provided.
Keep a copy of your application
Make sure to keep a copy of your submitted application, including all supporting documents. This will serve as a reference and can be useful for future grant applications.
After submitting your application, it’s time to patiently wait for the evaluation process to unfold. The ERC Grant evaluation process typically involves a two-step evaluation, including a peer review and an interview for shortlisted candidates. Be prepared to provide additional information or clarifications if requested during the evaluation process.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take to Get ERC Refund?
How Long Will It Take for My ERC Refund to Arrive? The good news is that after employers file for it, the ERC refund usually takes 6-8 weeks to process. Just keep in mind that the wait time for ERC refunds varies by business. Refunds took four to six weeks early in the process.
When Should I Expect My ERC?
Most taxpayers who choose this option receive their refunds within 21 days of filing their 2021 taxes, which are due in 2022. That means your refund will be deposited into your bank account three weeks after the IRS accepts your tax return. It may take several days for your bank to release the funds to you.