Top researchers to receive a major funding boost under Horizon 2020

September 27, 2013

Funding Scheme: 2013-09-27

Pgm2014 2020: Yes


Exploring the limits of life on Mars, developing a virus that can target cancer cells, or using photonics to restore vision in patients with cataracts. Societal challenges such as ageing populations in developing countries or inequality in capitalist societies. These are just some of the issues being tackled by the 284 scientists who are set to receive 660 million euro in the latest funding round from the European Research Council (ERC).


In its sixth and last Advanced Grant competition under the EU’s Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7), the European Research Council (ERC) will provide individual grants of up to 3.5 million euro. The funding, some of the most prestigious in the world for frontier science, will enable well-established senior researchers to pursue their ‘blue-sky’ research. The next Advanced Grants call will be the first under Horizon 2020, the new EU research and innovation programme.

In this call, the successful candidates are of 27 different nationalities, with British, German, French, Dutch and Italian researchers being the most numerous. Grantees are based in some 150 institutions across 18 different European Research Area (ERA) countries.

For this particular competition, just over 2,400 applications were submitted to the ERC, which is a slight increase (4.5%) from last year. Thanks to the ERC grants, the selected scientists in this call will be able to build their own research teams, engaging an estimated 1,200 postdocs and PhD students as ERC team members.

Advanced Grants are awarded to well-established top researchers of any nationality or age, scientifically independent and with a recent research track-record, as well as a profile which identifies them as leaders in their respective field(s). The ERC also funds young, early-career top researchers (ERC Starting Grants) and already independent excellent scientists (ERC Consolidator Grants).


ERC grants target top researchers of any nationality who are based in, or willing to move to, the European Research Area (ERA) (the EU Member States plus countries associated to the EU research programmes). As the largest EU Member-States, the UK, Germany and France host the highest absolute number of selected researchers in this call. In relation to population size, the Netherlands, UK, Finland and Denmark (of the EU countries), and Switzerland and Israel (of the countries associated with the EU research programme), host the greatest number of successful candidates in this call.

The overall success rate for this call lies at nearly 12%. The share of selected women in this round of grants is just over 13%, reflecting the continuing underrepresentation of women in senior research positions. The average age of the researchers to be funded is 53 years old.

In this call, 45% of successful proposals were in the ‘Physical Science and Engineering’ domain, 36% in ‘Life Sciences’, and 18% in ‘Social Sciences and Humanities’. The grantees were selected through peer review evaluation by 25 panels composed of renowned scientists from around the world. For further information, see statistics.

Set up in 2007 by the EU, the European Research Council is the first pan-European funding organisation for excellence in frontier research. The ERC, which is a pioneering component of the EU’s Seventh Research Framework Programme (‘Ideas’ Specific Programme), has a total budget of €7.5 billion from 2007 to 2013. The European Commission proposed a significant boost of the ERC budget in the new framework programme “Horizon 2020” (2014-2020)

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