An Introduction to ERC Advanced Grants

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1 An Introduction to ERC Advanced Grants What are ERC Advanced Grants? The ERC Advanced Investigator Grants, known as Advanced Grants, provide an opportunity for established, innovative and active scientists and scholars to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk research that opens up new directions in any field of their choice (apart from nuclear fission and fusion) regardless of their nationality, age or current location. During the grant, the Principal Investigator (PI) would need to be based in an EU Member State or Associated Country*. This funding stream complements the Starting Grant scheme by targeting researchers who have already established themselves as being independent research leaders in their own right. ERC Advanced Grants provide an opportunity to established scientists and scholars to pursue frontier research of their choice. Applicants for Advanced Grants are expected to be active researchers who have a track record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years. The Advanced Grant funds projects led by a PI, and (if they wish) their team. In certain cases - only where the project is interdisciplinary - this can include a 'Co-Investigator' (Co-I). The PI is based at a 'Host Institution'. (*EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Associated Countries are currently: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Faroe Islands, FYR Macedonia, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, and Turkey. More associated countries may join in the future.) What type of research is funded? Advanced Grants are intended to promote substantial advances in the frontiers of knowledge, and to encourage new productive lines of enquiry, methods and techniques, including unconventional approaches and investigations at the interface between established disciplines. The ERC funds this 'frontier research' in any area of research (apart from nuclear fission and fusion). In terms of peer review, the scientific excellence of the PI and the Research Project are the only criteria for funding. 'Frontier research' is the pursuit of questions at or beyond the frontiers of knowledge, without regard for established disciplinary boundaries. It can also be projects of an interdisciplinary nature which cross the boundaries between different fields of research; pioneering projects which address new and emerging fields of research; proposals introducing unconventional, innovative approaches and scientific inventions as long as the expected impact on science, scholarship or engineering is significant. Essentially, ERC-supported research should aim to broaden research, scientific or technological knowledge. Research proposed for funding to the ERC should aim high, in terms of the envisaged research achievements as well as to the creativity and originality of proposed approaches. Proposals should rise to pioneering and far-reaching challenges at the frontiers of the field(s) addressed, and can involve new, ground-breaking or unconventional methodologies, whose risky outlook is justified by the possibility of a major breakthrough with an impact beyond a specific research domain/discipline.

2 How much money is available per grant? An ERC Advanced Grant can be up to maximum of around 2.5 million for up to five years (pro-rata). However, in certain cases, an extra 1 million can be requested: a 'Co-Investigator project' (which must be interdisciplinary); for the purchase of major research equipment; or to cover eligible start-up costs for a PI coming from outside Europe. Institutions will be reimbursed at 100% of the direct eligible costs of the project, with an additional flat rate of 20% as a contribution to the overheads. Am I eligible? The PI can be any age and any nationality. For Advanced Grants, there are no rules in terms of having a PhD or time after PhD. However, the ERC seeks to fund only exceptional research leaders. PIs should be exceptional leaders in terms of originality and significance of their research contributions So, am I a competitive candidate? Applicants for these prestigious Advanced Grants are expected to be active researchers and to have a track-record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years. Otherwise there is little prospect of an application succeeding. The track record should identify investigators as exceptional leaders in terms of originality and significance of their research contributions. Assessment of the scientific leadership profile and track record is a significant component of the peer review evaluation. Thus, in most fields, PIs of Advanced Grant proposals will be expected to demonstrate a record of achievements appropriate to the field and at least matching one or more of the following benchmarks: Normally 10 publications as senior author (or in those fields where alphabetic order of authorship is the norm, joint author) in major international peer-reviewed multidisciplinary scientific journals, and/or in the leading international peer-reviewed journals and peer-reviewed conferences proceedings of their respective field; or Normally 3 major research monographs, of which at least normally one is translated into another language. This benchmark is relevant to research fields where publication of monographs is the norm (e.g. humanities and social sciences). Other alternative benchmarks that may be considered (individually or in combination) as indicative of an exceptional record and recognition in the last 10 years: Normally 5 granted patents; Normally 10 invited presentations in well-established internationally organised conferences and advanced schools; Normally 3 well-established international conferences or congresses where the applicant was involved in their organisation as a member of the steering and/or organising committee; Normally 3 research expeditions led by the applicant; and/or

3 International recognition through scientific prizes/awards or membership of Academies. Applicants are encouraged to evaluate their track record and leadership profile against these benchmarks, in order to decide for themselves their likelihood for success, thus reducing unnecessary loss of time and effort on applications that are very unlikely to succeed. For maternity, the track record considered can be extended by 18 months for each child born before or during the last ten years. For paternity, the track record considered can be extended by the actual amount of paternity leave taken for each child born before or during the last ten years. For long-term illness, clinical qualification or national service the track record considered can be extended by the amount of leave taken for each incident which occurred during the last ten years. The track record considered should not in any case surpass 14 years and six months. No allowance will be made for part-time working (two years of part-time working count as two full-time years). How much time should I spend on my Advanced Grant? ERC-funded PIs must be strongly committed to the project and devote a significant amount of time to the project. In the case of the Advanced Grant, the PI is expected to devote at least 30% of his/her workload to the ERC-funded project, while spending at least 50% of his/her total workload in Europe (EU Member State or Associated Country). What about my team members? As a PI, you can also ask for funding for team members (if needed). Normally the whole team is based at the same institution as the PI. No trans-national partnerships or consortia are required. However, if strongly justified, it is possible to have team members at other institutions which could be in the same country as the PI, in other EU or Associated Countries, or in countries outside Europe. The participation of team members outside Europe (and possible funding to support the work of these team members) is subject to appraisal by the ERC peer review evaluation panels, which assess whether their involvement is properly justified and essential in terms of research competence and capacities. Team members operate under the leadership of the PI, including those team members hosted by other institutions. The team members can be any age, nationality and level of experience (for example senior researchers, post docs, graduate and PhD student). You can also ask for funding for non-academic staff such as technicians, or secretarial support staff working on the project. And what is a Co-Investigator? In addition to normal team members, and to encourage interdisciplinarity, when an interdisciplinary Advanced Grant proposal is grounded in the necessary combination of knowledge and skills from more than one discipline ('Co-Investigator project'), a Principal Investigator (PI) may identify a member or members of his/her individual team, who are active in these disciplines, as 'Co- Investigators' (Co-Is). Co-Investigators are team members who have specific complementary expertise in rather different research areas or disciplines than the PI. However, similar to the PI, Co-Is are expected to be active researchers with an outstanding track record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years. Co-Is enable the realisation of

4 unconventional methodological approaches beyond established disciplinary areas. Unlike the rest of the team members, the Co-I must be based in an EU Member State or Associated Country during the ERC grant. Where can I do my ERC Advanced Grant? The PI and Co-I can be anywhere in the world at the time of application but, if successful, they must establish and conduct their ERC grant based at Host Institution(s) in an EU Member State or Associated Country. Please note that, whilst the PI must be based in the EU or an Associated Country during the grant, it is possible to do field work or other research activities outside these countries if this is necessary to achieve the scientific objectives of the research project/activity. The Host Institution can be any type of organisation (including universities, research centres, industry and charities.) As mentioned above, other team members (apart from the PI and Co-Is) can be based anywhere in the world if it is strongly justified in terms of the research. If I was unsuccessful the last time I applied for an Advanced Grant, can I re-apply? A PI who submitted an eligible proposal to the last Advanced Grant call (ERC-2010-AdG) may not apply to the next Advanced Grant call (ERC-2011-AdG), unless his/her proposal was evaluated above the quality threshold at the end of step 1 of the evaluation. (The quality threshold is scoring 2 or more out of 4 for the Principal Investigator criterion and 2 or more out of 4 for the research project criterion). Please note that this is a change to the previous resubmission rules. In addition, only one ERC grant managed by a Principal or Co-Investigator can be active at any time, and a PI or Co-I may not be associated with more than one application to ERC calls with deadlines during the same calendar year. For further details, please see the ERC s 2011 Work Programme. How will my proposal be assessed? Scientific excellence is the sole criterion to assess and select proposals. The excellence of the PI and their track record forms 50% of the mark during peer review. The other 50% of the mark is for the excellence of the research project. There are two sets of 25 Advanced Grant peer review panels covering all fields of science, engineering and scholarship. The two sets of panels sit on alternate years. Each panel has around members. Specialised remote referees are also used. Applicants choose which panel to submit their proposal too, and can choose a secondary panel if the proposal falls across more than one panel. There is no interview for the ERC Advanced Grants. Where can I find more information about Advanced Grants? In its capacity as UK National Contact Point (NCP) for the European Research Council (ERC), the UK Research Office, in partnership with institutions from across the UK, organises a series of information events for researchers who are based in or moving to the UK and are interested in applying for the ERC Advanced Grants. These are organised for each ERC call, and are held in different locations across the UK.

5 If you would like to receive notifications on future UK ERC NCP events, as well as updates on the ERC, please fill in the form at: Further information, including the ERC Work Programme and Guide for Applicants (once published) is available on the UK ERC NCP website: If you have any queries, please the UK ERC NPC helpdesk at: or telephone UKRO, 30 July 2010

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