Tips and tricks for a winning ERC Starting Grant

Published: 1 September 2017

ERC grants are acknowledged as one of the most prestigious individual grants a researcher can receive. However, writing a competitive and winning ERC grant is often perceived as a challenging task and competition is fierce. Within this article, we provide you with some essential tips and tricks to maximise your winning chances for ERC starting grants.

ERC grant funding schemes

The main goal of the European Research Council (ERC) is to encourage high quality research in Europe through competitive funding. The ERC offers three core funding schemes that are all about scientific quality aiming for excellence:

  • ERC Starting Grant (2-7 years of experience since completion of PhD)
  • ERC Consolidator Grant (7-12 years of experience since completion of PhD)
  • ERC Advanced Grant (significant achievements in the last 10 years)

With a fast-approaching deadline of the ERC Starting Grant, we provide you with some essential tips and tricks for writing a competitive ERC Starting Grant proposal.

ERC Starting Grant tips and tricks

1. Select the right timing

One of the most important considerations in applying to the ERC grants is to consider when you are going to apply. You must have 2 to 7 years of experience since completion of your PhD and this experience as well as your project idea should be backed by data. You should thus be able to show your experience and to provide preliminary data to clarify and strengthen your proposed idea. In addition, writing a competitive ERC Starting Grant will take time and should not be rushed. Assembling your preliminary data and shaping the story in a convincing manner will take some significant time and should be taken into consideration before applying for an ERC grant.

2. Clearly highlight your main achievements (biosketch)

Since ERC Starting Grants are individual, you will also be scored on your biosketch. Therefore, make sure to identify and clearly highlight your main achievements in your biosketch. Regarding publications, only include these if they are significantly high. You should demonstrate your independence and describe your international experience and how this has benefited your career.

3. Have a groundbreaking idea supported by preliminary data

Your project idea should be ambitious and groundbreaking and not an obvious continuation. Your project aim should be supported by convincing preliminary data, used in your proposal.

4. Have a high impact with quantitative data

As part of the proposal, you should convince the reviewer that your research will provide significant impact when successful. Therefore, writing a convincing impact is of utmost importance and quantitative data should always be used in your impact section in order to make it a reliable and convincing story.

5. Have a convincing risk and mitigation plan

Groundbreaking project ideas are often accompanied by significant risks. Therefore, emphasis should also be on writing a compelling risk and mitigation plan. All potential risks should be identified and be confuted by a convincing mitigation plan.

Request assistance

Do you need support in writing the most competitive proposal? The ttopstart academy offers ERC training programmes as well as a coaching/review service for your proposal. At ttopstart, we can also support you in building and writing your proposal. Contact us and find out what the possibilities are.