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Fund your individual research career with the ERC frontier research grants

April 18 2017

There are several individual research grants available for researchers within life sciences. But how do you know you are ready to apply for such a personal grant?

In this article, we discuss one of the leading individual grants for young researchers, the European Research Council (ERC) Frontier research grant, as well as the requirements that should be met by the researchers applying for such grant.

Scientific excellence

There are three ERC core funding schemes that can be applied for by independent researchers, depending on their career stage: starting, consolidator and advanced grant. The main criterion for obtaining an ERC frontier research grant is scientific excellence. Candidates should represent the top 3% in their peer group and should pursue ground-breaking, high-risk/high-gain research. This scientific excellence should be demonstrated by an excellent track record, with highly cited papers in top journals.

Innovation beyond current limits

Another prerequisite for obtaining an ERC grant is the innovative nature of the research proposal. Applying scientists should push innovation beyond its current limits with their research proposal. The ERC puts particular emphasis on the frontiers of science (high-risk/high-reward). This means that proposals are encouraged to show a multi- or interdisciplinary nature which cross the boundaries between different fields of research, addressing new and emerging fields of research or introduce unconventional, innovative approaches and scientific inventions.

It’s all about your CV

When applying for an ERC frontier research grant, the scientific excellence of your research should also be reflected in your CV. Young researchers (at least 2 years of experience since completion of their PhD)  should show mobility, demonstrated by their willingness to relocate to a different research institute or country if this benefits their research. Senior researchers should have a clear track record, having established their own successful and innovative research line. Their established research line should serve as a platform for further ground-breaking discoveries. Your independence and excellence as a researcher is furthermore reflected by the number of PhDs and/or postdocs you have supervised, your H-index, international experience and even (at later stages) by the set-up of your own company.

Are you ready for an ERC grant?

Below we provide a comprehensive overview of which ERC grant applies to which stage of your career and the specific requirements of these grants.

ERC Starting Grant

Scientific eligibility criteria

Promising early-career researchers should have 2-7 years of experience after their PhD has been awarded (prior to 1 January 2017).

Track record should list:

  • Up to five publications in major international peer-reviewed multi-disciplinary scientific journals and/or in the leading international peer-reviewed journals, peer-reviewed conferences proceedings and/or monographs of their respective research fields, highlighting those as main author or without the presence as co-author of their PhD supervisor;
  • Research monographs and any translations thereof;
  • Granted patent(s);
  • Invited presentations to internationally established conferences and/or international advanced schools;
  • Prizes/ Awards/ Academy memberships.

ERC Consolidator Grant

Scientific eligibility criteria

Excellent researchers should have >7-12 years of experience after their PhD has been awarded (prior to 1 January 2017).

Track record should list:

  • Up to ten publications in major international peer-reviewed multi-disciplinary scientific journals and/or in the leading international peer-reviewed journals, peer-reviewed conferences proceedings and/or monographs of their respective research fields, highlighting those as main author or without the presence as co-author of their PhD supervisor;
  • Research monographs and any translations thereof;
  • Granted patent(s);
  • Invited presentations to internationally established conferences and/or international advanced schools;
  • Prizes/ Awards/ Academy memberships.

ERC Advanced Grant

Scientific eligibility criteria

Established research leaders with a recognised track record of research achievements.

Track record should list:

  • Up to ten representative publications, from the last ten years, as main author (or in those fields where alphabetic order of authorship is the norm, joint author) in major international peer-reviewed multi-disciplinary scientific journals and/or in the leading international peer-reviewed journals and peer-reviewed conference proceedings of their respective research fields (properly referenced, field relevant bibliometric indicators may also be included);
  • Research monographs and any translations thereof (at least 3 major monographs);
  • Granted patents (5 or more);
  • Invited presentations to internationally established conferences and/or international advanced schools (10 or more);
  • Research expeditions that the applicant Principal Investigator has led (3 or more)
  • Organisation of international conferences in the field of the applicant (membership in the steering and/or organising committee; at least 3);
  • Prizes/ Awards/ Academy memberships;
  • Major contributions to the early careers of excellent researchers;
  • Examples of leadership in industrial innovation or design.

ttopstart can support the preparation of your ERC grant

If you feel confident that you are the ideal candidate for an ERC frontier research grant, feel free to contact us for help and advice on how to apply for one of these ERC grants.

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Contact

Sabine Welten, PhD
+31 (0)30 7370779