Funding Opportunities for Educational Researchers at the European Research Council

Thursday 25 August, 17:15 - 18:45
Location: OB-George Moore Auditorium

Presenter: Inês Pio

The European Research Council is the first pan-European funding body for frontier research, set up in 2007 to substantially strengthen and shape the European research system. The ERC is now part of the 'Excellent Science' pillar of Horizon 2020, and with a budget of 13,100 million euro for the period 2014-2020, it aims at encouraging the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding, and at supporting investigator-driven frontier research across all fields on the only basis of scientific excellence. The ERC consists of a Scientific Council (22 independent scientists representing the scientific community, who set the funding strategy), and an Executive Agency that implements that strategy and is in charge of the day to day grant administration.

Since 2007 some 4,500 projects have been selected for funding from more than 43,000 applications.  Over 20,000 articles in peer-reviewed high impact journals between 2008 and 2013 acknowledge the funding of ERC, which also counts with eight Nobel laureates among its grantees. Each grantee employs on average six team members, thus contributing to train a new generation of excellent researchers. Under Horizon 2020, it is estimated that around 7,000 grantees will be funded and 42,000 team members supported, offering cutting-edge research training for nearly 11,000 doctoral students and almost 16,000 postdoctoral researchers.

The ERC funding schemes are open to top researchers of any nationality or age who wish to carry out their research in a public or private research organisation located in one of the 28 EU Member States or in associated countries. 

There are three core funding schemes:

  • Starting Grants: for researchers with 2-7 years of experience since completion of PhD, with a scientific track record showing great promise (grants up to €1,5 million for five years);
  • Consolidator Grants: for researchers with over 7 and up to 12 years of experience since completion of PhD, with an excellent mid-career scientific track record (grants up to €2 million); and
  • Advanced Grants: for established and scientifically independent researchers with a recent research track-record and profile which identifies them as leaders in their respective fields of research (grants up to €2.5 million).

In all cases, the sole evaluation criterion is the scientific excellence of the research proposal and of the track record of the individual applicant. Proposals are evaluated by selected international peer reviewers, who are in charge of assessing and scoring the proposals. Those who pass the quality threshold are ranked, and depending on the call budget available, only the highest ranked proposals are offered a grant until the call's budget has been used.

The ERC uses a typical panel-based system, and each call has 25 panels grouped into three disciplinary domains that cover the entire spectrum of science, engineering and scholarship: Social Sciences and Humanities (SH), Life Sciences (LS), and Physical and Engineering Sciences (PE). Each panel is composed of 12-16 high-level scientists and scholars selected by the ERC Scientific Council on the basis of their scientific reputation, who make the recommendations for funding. In addition, the evaluations rely on input from remote referees external to the panel. Before the deadline of a call, the names of the panel chairs are published on the ERC website; but to warrant independence of judgment, the names of panel members are published only after the evaluation process is concluded.

The presentation at ECER 2016 will introduce the European Research Council and explain, from a practical perspective, the characteristics of the Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grants calls. In particular, it will focus on the funding possibilities for educational researchers.

Future ECERs

ECER'20, Glasgow
ERC'21, Geneva
ECER'21, Geneva
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The aim of the ‘European Conference on Educational Research’ is to create an inclusive platform for initiating, reporting, discussing and promoting high quality educational research ...
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