Established under the Seventh Framework Programme, the European Research Council is the “first pan-European funding body for frontier research”. This fundamental research is viewed as the “bedrock of future growth and wellbeing”. The ERC is granted high priority because of evidence that suggests that regions and countries with exceptionally successful innovators are building their success on a foundation of excellent science.
However, the share of organisations in the EU27 of scientific articles in the top 10% of mostly highly cited articles is still below that of the USA. It is certainly also to close this gap that the ERC as funding body for excellent science is granted importance with 17% of the total Horizon 2020 budget being allocated to it, an increase of 225% compared to the bn 7,5 € funding for the 2007-2013 period.
Since 2007, more than 3,860 projects have been selected for funding from more than 43,000 applications.
Even though the European Commission provides financing and assures the integrity and accountability of the ERC, its main governing body is the ERC Scientific Council. Composed of 22 researchers that are proposed by an independent identification committee, they are appointed by the European Commission for four years, renewable once. The Scientific Council establishes the overall scientific strategy, defines the annual work programmes, the evaluation criteria and peer review methodology, and oversses the selection of expert evaluators.
Furthermore, the ERC Executive Agency is responsible for the execution of the annual work programmes, the implementation of the calls for proposals, general management and communication activities.
The ERC will launch four calls in 2014, one for each of the programmes - Starting Grant, Consolidator Grant, Advanced Grant, and Proof of Concept grant. The Synergy Grant, a pilot scheme introduced in 2012 and providing support to small groups of researchers from interdisciplinary fields will not launch a call in 2014.
Due to high demand of ERC grants, some restrictions, prohibiting the resubmission of proposals that were ranked as Category C in the First Step of the evaluation in the following year. For the 2014 Calls, these restrictions have been slightly extended. A proposal obtaining a C mark in the first round cannot be resubmitted neither for 2015 nor for 2016 calls. Additionally, proposals obtaining a B mark in the first round cannot be resubmitted for 2015. These rules may be adapted according to experience.
The infographic below illustrates the ERC resubmission restrictions.