The European Research Council’s work programme adopted today includes over €2.4 billion to fund grants for some 1,100 excellent scientists and scholars in the EU and associated countries. This is the ERC’s second work programme under Horizon Europe. The funding will be awarded in a series of grant competitions refereed by panels of internationally renowned researchers. It is intended to support projects that push the frontiers of human knowledge. Researchers of any nationality and any scientific domain are eligible, as long as they work in Europe or are willing to move from other parts of the world to do so. Synergy Grants and Proof of Concept Grants are back on offer, as well as the second edition of the Public Engagement with Research Awards.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “This work programme is backed by the biggest ever annual budget for ERC grants – a powerful sign of Europe’s continuing support for frontier research. I am also delighted to see that most of the financial support is earmarked for grants for early and mid-career researchers. It is vital that we support this new generation of European talent.”
Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the ERC ad interim, commented: “I am pleased that with its 2022 Work Programme the ERC is again offering the full range of its grants. This includes Synergy Grants, which are especially well fitted to support interdisciplinary research, and Proof of Concept Grants, which help ERC grantees explore the social or commercial potential of their discoveries. The quick approval of the programme allows the ERC progress towards its usual schedule for closing the calls.”
Established by the ERC Scientific Council, the work programme for the coming year was adopted by the European Commission today. Some 8,000 jobs for post-doctoral fellow, PhD students and other research staff will be created in ERC grantees’ teams thanks to this new funding.
Highlights of the plan 2022
- Synergy Grants. After a break in 2021 this grant competition is returning and will open on 15 July 2021. Synergy Grants offer support for a small group of two to four principal investigators to jointly address ambitious research problems that could not be addressed by the individual researchers and their teams working alone. One of these principal investigators may be based outside Europe.
- Four Proof of Concept funding rounds will take place under this work programme. The first call will open in July 2021 for €25 million in grants of 150,000 each. Then in November 2021, the ERC will open a call with €25 million divided between three deadlines in February, May and September of the following year.
- Public Engagement with Research Award. After a successful pilot competition in 2020, the ERC will run the second edition. The awards will recognise three ERC grantees, with a prize of €10,000 each, in the three categories: “Involve” for citizen science, “Inspire” for public outreach, and “Influence” for media and policy. The competition is expected to open on 5 October 2021.
- As a measure to ease the Covid-19 impact for researchers, the work programme includes the possibility for applicants to mention in their research proposal (part B1) any specific situation caused by the pandemic that had a negative impact on their CV or track record. This will be taken into account during the evaluation of proposals. See also the Scientific Council statement.
- Gender equality plans at host institutions. To be eligible for calls with deadlines in 2022, the institutions to host ERC grantees must have a gender equality plan or an equivalent strategic document in place at the time of the signing of the grant and for the duration of the project.
- The work programme introduces several changes to the way applicants are expected to describe their scientific track record. These changes aim to further strengthen the ERC’s alignment with research assessment principles that recognise the intrinsic quality of researchers’ work and the value and impact of all research outputs.
On the occasion of the adoption of this work programme, the ERC is also announcing its formal endorsement of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), in line with its long-standing adherence to the highest standards of research assessment. The ERC is convinced that the broad implementation of research assessment procedures that integrate the DORA principles is the key to an equitable transition to Open Science.
How and when to apply for ERC grants
The work programme published today includes a calendar of grant competitions. The Synergy Grants competition and the first call for Proof of Concept Grants are scheduled to open on 15 July 2021.
Read the Work Programme 2022.