​What type of grants does the ERC fund in Horizon 2020?

All ERC grants operate on a 'bottom-up' basis across all research fields (apart from nuclear energy research), without predetermined priorities. The three main funding schemes are Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grants. These fund projects led by a Principal Investigator (PI) and excellence is the sole criterion for funding, both of the PI and the research project.

Starting Grants are designed to support PIs at the stage at which they are starting their own independent research team or programme. To be eligible, the PI must be 2-7 years from their PhD, which is extendable in certain strict cases.

Consolidator Grants are designed to support PIs at the stage at which they are consolidating their own independent research team or programme. To be eligible, the PI must be over 7 and up to 12 years from their PhD, which is extendable in certain strict cases.

Advanced Grants are intended to promote substantial advances in the frontiers of knowledge, and to encourage new productive lines of enquiry and new methods and techniques. Applicants must have a recognised track record of research achievements.

The other two ERC funding schemes are Proof of Concept funding, which is for existing ERC grant holders only, and Synergy Grants, which was an experimental pilot scheme which funded ambitious, ground-breaking proposals submitted by a group of between 2 to 4 PIs (and if necessary their teams) with complementary skills. There will be no Synergy Grants call in 2015 and it remains to be seen when the next call will take place. 

The Proof of Concept scheme funds ERC grant holders to establish the innovation potential of an idea developed during the course of an ERC-funded project. The scheme aims to build upon ideas which draw substantially from research that has been funded by the ERC, increasing the opportunities for commercial or societal application of the frontier research.​