First calls under Horizon Europe to be launched by the European Research Council

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The European Commission today presented the Work Programme 2021 for the European Research Council. This is the first work programme under Horizon Europe, Europe’s new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for 2021-2027. It includes three main calls for proposals for frontier research actions for a total amount of €1.9 billion. The European Research Council (ERC) offers grants to top researchers from anywhere in the world who are ready to come or to stay in Europe to pursue their breakthrough scientific and technological discoveries that can form the basis of new industries, markets, and social innovations of the future.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Research, Innovation, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “I am very pleased that we have today adopted the Work Programme of the European Research Council. This important step paves the way for launching calls that support top researchers and their teams to pursue frontier research at different stages of their careers. The first call will support young researchers across Europe who are starting their own independent research team or programme. They are the future of European research.”

Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council, said: “The ERC Scientific Council is pleased that under Horizon Europe the European Research Council can continue to back Europe’s researchers and their most innovative ideas. We will be able to issue more grants than ever before. Thanks to the European Commission’s commitment, and the outstanding dedication of the Executive Agency staff, we are now ready to launch the 2021 Starting Grant call on 25 February.”

First calls for proposals in 2021

Over the entire long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the European Research Council is set to receive over €16 billion from Horizon Europe, which represents an increase of 22% vis-à-vis Horizon 2020.

Within the new series of competitions, the first call to be launched is the European Research Council’s Starting Grants, which will support top researchers to start their own independent research team or programme. The call will be launched on 25 February, with a budget of €619 million and a deadline of 8 April.

Other grant competitions will follow according to the work programme’s calendar: on 11 March the call for Consolidator Grants for researchers who are consolidating their own independent research team or programme will open, with a budget of €633 million. The deadline for applications is 20 April. Finally, on 20 May the European Research Council will launch a call for Advanced Grants for leading advanced investigators, with a budget of €626 million and deadline on 31 August.

Due to the transition to the new Framework Programme, the Synergy Grants are not available under the 2021 Work Programme. The award of Synergy Grants is likely to resume under the Work Programme of 2022. The Proof of Concept Grant is currently under revision by the Scientific Council, the governing body of the European Research Council, and therefore does not appear in this Work Programme either.

The 2021 Work Programme also covers other actions and public procurement to allow the Scientific Council to carry out its duties and mandate, including the appointment of independent experts during the evaluation of proposals and the preparation of the calls, for ethics review and for the monitoring of ongoing projects. It also covers the Scientific Council’s obligations to establish the overall strategy of the European Research Council and to monitor the quality of the programme’s implementation from the scientific perspective.

Background

The European Research Council awards grants through open competitions to projects headed by starting and established researchers. As its sole selection criterion is scientific excellence, it strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come and stay in Europe. So far, the European Research Council has funded over 9,500 top researchers at various stages of their careers, and over 70,000 postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and other staff working in their research teams. An independent review in 2020 found that some 80% of projects funded are scientific breakthroughs or major advances, showing the outstanding quality of this EU-funded research.

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