International Starting Grants of European Research Council

Publish Date: Feb 24, 2016

Deadline: May 18, 2016

About program

If, as a young scientist, you're interested in making the transition from working under a supervisor to becoming and independent investigator, the ERC is here to help. ERC Starting Grants are designed to encourage young talented research leader to gain independence in Europe and to build their own careers. The scheme targets promising researchers who have the proven potential of becoming independent research leaders.


Researchers of any nationality with 2-7 years of experience since completion of PhD (plus 18 months for each child), a scientific track record showing great promise and an excellent research proposal.


Research must be conducted in a public or private research organisation(known as a Host Institution/HI). It could be the HI where the applicant already works, or any other HI located in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries.

Funding per grant

Up to € 1.5 million.

Normally grants will be € 1.5 million for a period of 5 years (pro rata for projects of shorter duration). However, an additional € 0.5 million can be made available to cover eligible “start-up” costs for researchers moving from a third country to the EU or an associated country and/or the purchase of major equipment and/or access to large facilities.

An ERC grant can cover up to 100% of the total eligible direct costs of the research plus a contribution of 25% of the total eligible costs towards indirect costs.

Sole evaluation criterion

Scientific excellence of researcher and research proposal (a description of the planned research activities, information on who will carry out the planned research, how much it will cost, and how much funding is required and requested).

Calls for proposals

Published once a year.

For research talents with proven potential only

Applicants for the ERC Starting Grants - called Principal Investigators (PI) - must have already shown the potential for research independence and evidence of maturity.

For example, by having produced at least one important publication without the participation of their PhD supervisor.

Applicants should also be able to demonstrate a promising track-record of early achievements appropriate to their research field and career stage, including significant publications (as main author) in major international peer-reviewed multidisciplinary scientific journals, or in the leading international peer-reviewed journals of their respective field.

They may also demonstrate a record of invited presentations in well-established international conferences, granted patents, awards, prizes etc.

Commitment of the Host Institution

Applications for an ERC grant must be submitted by a single Principal Investigator (PI) in conjunction with and on behalf of their host institution, called the applicant legal entity.

Grants are awarded to the host institution with the explicit commitment that this institution offers appropriate conditions for the Principal Investigator independently to direct the research and manage its funding for the duration of the project.

Any type of legal entity, including universities, research centres and undertakings can host the PI and his/her team. Legally the host institution must be based in one of the EU Member States, or one of the associated countries.

The PI does not necessarily need to be working at the host institution at the time when the proposal is submitted. However, a mutual agreement and the host institution’s commitment on how the relationship will be established are necessary, should the proposal be successful.

See also 'Host Institution' for a map of all current ERC host institutions.

In the hands of distinguished peers

Proposals are evaluated by selected international peer reviewers evaluate proposals on the basis of excellence as the sole criterion. It will be applied to the evaluation of both the research project and the Principal Investigator in conjunction.

Peer reviewers are in charge of assessing and scoring the proposals. Those who pass the quality threshold are ranked. Depending on the call budget available, a budgetary cut-off applies to the ranking list and only the highest ranked proposals are offered an ERC grant until the call's budget has been used.

See also 'Evaluation panels' for more information.

For Non-European Researchers

The European Research Council (ERC) is a funding organisation for frontier research. It aims to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by funding the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, and supporting their innovative ideas. Researchers from anywhere in the world can apply for ERC grants provided the research they undertake will be carried out in an EU Member State or Associated Country.

ERC grants are becoming more and more internationally recognised as awards for scientific excellence.

Research projects funded by the ERC can last up to five years and can cover frontier research in any scientific domain, including social sciences, humanities and interdisciplinary studies. The grants may help both emerging research leaders ('ERC Starting Grants' and 'ERC Consolidator Grants') and already well-established and recognised scientists ('ERC Advanced Grants'). Find out more about the different ERC grants.

If you are moving to Europe (EU Member State or Associated Country), you can apply for additional funding, which can total up to €2 million for a Starting Grant (instead of €1.5 million for those already established in Europe), €2.75 million for a Consolidator Grant (instead of €2 million) and €3.5 million for an Advanced Grant (instead of €2.5 million). 

How to apply

Applications can be submitted when an ERC call for proposals is opened. For successful applicants an agreement is then signed between the ERC and the institution that will host your research project ("Host Institution") in an EU Member State or an Associated Country.

In case you need to find a Host Institution in Europe for your future ERC project, please go to original link.

The selection of proposals is done by highly recognised international peer review panels.

Both the application, granting and reporting processes are very straightforward and user-friendly. Furthermore, you have the possibility to change host institution in Europe in the course of your project if useful, as ERC grants are "portable": the money follows the researcher and is not linked to the initial host institution.

Time to spend on the project

Researchers applying for ERC-funding must be strongly committed to the project and spend a significant amount of time on it. However, it is not obligatory to spend 100% of your time in Europe whilst carrying out the ERC-funded research.

For Starting and Consolidator Grants, the Principal Investigator should devote at least 50% of her/his total working time to the ERC-funded project, while spending at least 50% of her/his total working time in an EU Member State or Associated Country.

For Advanced Grants, the Principal Investigator should devote at least 30% of her/his working time to the ERC project and spend at least 50% of her/his total working time in an EU Member State or Associated Country.


Some testimonials from ERC-grantees of non-European nationality are featured in our brochure: ERC grants for top researchers from all over the world.

For more information click "Further official information" below.

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