The European Research Council’s Impact on AI and Technology Research – Empowering Excellence 

The European Research Council (ERC) plays a vital role in Europe’s scientific field by funding projects that push the boundaries of knowledge. Since its establishment in 2007, the ERC has been supporting exceptional researchers and scientists, providing resources for ambitious research.

The European Research Council's Impact on AI and Technology Research
The European Research Council’s Impact on AI and Technology Research

AI and technology research are important drivers of change, influencing our daily lives and work. This article aims to delve into the impact of the ERC on AI and technology research, emphasizing its role in funding and empowering researchers, fostering innovation, and positioning Europe as a significant player in the global scientific arena.

Importance of Excellence and Innovation

The ERC gives top priority to excellence and innovation in grant applications. They focus on projects that defy conventions and push the boundaries of knowledge. The evaluation process assesses research proposals based on their scientific quality, originality, and potential for transformative outcomes. This approach not only supports exceptional talent but also enhances Europe’s position in global research.

Grant Amount and Benefits

The ERC provides varying amounts of funding for grants depending on the type of grant and the proposed research. The ERC offers three main grant schemes that cater to different career stages and project scopes. They include:

  • Starting Grants: They are specifically aimed at early-career researchers who have 2-7 years of experience after completing their Ph.D. The grant amounts usually fall between €5 million and €2 million. These grants are designed to assist researchers in establishing their own independent research teams.
  • Consolidator Grants: These grants on the other hand, are intended for researchers with 7-12 years of experience after obtaining their Ph.D. The grant amounts can vary but generally range from €2 million to €75 million. These grants are geared towards consolidating the achievements of mid-career researchers
  • Advanced Grants: They target established researchers who have a significant track record of achievements. The grant amounts for these grants are more flexible and often exceed €5 million. They are specifically designed to support cutting-edge, high-risk/high-gain projects led by experienced researchers.

ERC Grants Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility requirements for ERC grants aim to ensure that the most talented and innovative researchers receive support. Important factors to consider include:

  • Researcher’s Experience: Eligibility often depends on the researcher’s experience, with various opportunities available for early-career, mid-career, and established researchers.
  • Host Institution: Researchers seeking ERC grants must be affiliated with a host institution located in one of the EU Member States or associated countries.
  • Research Proposal: The research proposal plays a crucial role in the application process. It must showcase scientific excellence, innovation, and the potential for groundbreaking impact.
  • Host Institution’s Commitment: The host institution is expected to provide appropriate support and infrastructure for the successful execution of the proposed project.

Application Process

The process of applying for ERC grants is a detailed journey that requires careful attention to detail and a clear explanation of the proposed research. Here is an overview of the application process:

  • Identifying the Grant Scheme: Researchers need to determine the most appropriate grant scheme based on their career stage and the scope of their research (Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, or Advanced Grants).
  • Online Submission: Applications are submitted through an online platform provided by the ERC. The submission portal usually opens well before the deadline.
  • Submission Timeline: The ERC operates on annual or biennial grant cycles, and researchers must adhere to specific submission timelines. It is important to regularly check the ERC website for the latest information on application deadlines.
  • Peer Review Process: After submission, applications go through a rigorous peer review process. External experts, chosen by the ERC, evaluate the proposals based on predetermined criteria.
  • Interview Stage (for certain schemes): In some cases, applicants may be invited for an interview to further discuss and defend their proposals. This stage aims to provide additional insights to the evaluators.
  • Decision and Grant Award: The final decision on grant awards is based on the evaluation results. Successful applicants receive funding to begin their research projects.

Necessary Documents and Information

To apply for an ERC grant successfully, you need to prepare and submit the following important documents:

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV): A comprehensive CV that provides details about your academic and professional background.
  • Host Institution’s Support Letter: A letter from the host institution that shows their commitment to supporting you and your proposed project.
  • Research Proposal: The main part of your application, the research proposal should be well-organized and cover important aspects such as objectives, methodology, expected outcomes, and potential impact of the research.
  • Budget and Resources: A detailed budget that explains how the grant funds will be used, along with a description of the resources needed for the project.
  • Ethics Review (if applicable): If your project involves ethical considerations, you may need to undergo an ethics review and provide relevant documentation.

Evaluation Criteria Used by ERC

ERC grants are given out after careful evaluation of various criteria:

  • Excellence: The project must showcase outstanding quality and have the potential to make groundbreaking contributions in terms of scientific excellence.
  • Impact: Evaluators analyze the potential impact of the research, taking into account its societal, economic, and cultural implications.
  • Researcher’s Quality: The track record of the researcher and their ability to effectively carry out the proposed project play a vital role in the evaluation process.
  • Implementation: The feasibility and methodology proposed for the project are assessed to ensure that the research can be successfully conducted.

Importance of a Well-Structured Research Proposal

A well-structured research proposal holds immense significance in the ERC grant application as it aims to showcase several ways:

  • Scientific Excellence: The research proposal must effectively demonstrate scientific excellence by presenting a clear, innovative, and well-defined scientific concept.
  • Originality and Innovation: Emphasizing the originality and innovative nature of the proposed research is crucial. It should highlight how the research contributes to advancing knowledge in the specific field.
  • Feasibility and Methodology: The proposal should outline a feasible methodology, providing evidence of the researcher’s capability to successfully execute the project within the proposed timeframe.
  • Potential Impact: Articulating the potential impact of the research is of utmost importance. It should address how the project will contribute to the advancement of AI and technology, as well as any broader societal or economic implications that may arise.

The Impact of ERC on AI and Technology Research

The European Research Council (ERC) plays a crucial role in AI research. It supports projects that have made important advancements in AI algorithms, machine learning, robotics, and ethical aspects. These projects have had a positive impact on various sectors such as healthcare, finance, manufacturing, robotics, and automation. They have also contributed to societal and economic development by promoting transparency, fairness, and accountability in AI systems.


The European Research Council (ERC) empowers researchers to pursue ambitious projects in AI and technology, leading to transformative breakthroughs and innovations. ERC-funded research has made significant contributions to various fields, fostered global collaboration, and offers researchers the opportunity to explore new frontiers and shape the future of knowledge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can researchers from non-European countries apply for ERC grants?

Absolutely, Researchers from non-European countries are eligible to apply for ERC grants. However, they must establish a host institution in an EU Member State or associated country and fulfill the other eligibility criteria for each grant scheme.

How can researchers stay informed about upcoming ERC grant opportunities?

To stay updated on upcoming ERC grant opportunities, researchers can regularly visit the ERC website for announcements. They can also subscribe to newsletters and engage with ERC National Contact Points or representatives who provide valuable information on grant opportunities and application processes.

What is the success rate for ERC grant applications?

The success rate for ERC grant applications varies depending on the grant scheme and competition year. Generally, ERC grants are highly competitive, and the chances of success rely on the quality of the research proposal and its alignment with ERC’s criteria of excellence, impact, and implementation.

Can ERC grants be transferred to a different host institution during the project?

Typically, ERC grants are awarded to the host institution mentioned in the original application. Transferring the grant to a different host institution during the project is generally not permitted. However, if there is a need to change the host institution, specific approval from the ERC would be required.



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