How to write a successful ERC Proof of Concept (PoC) grant proposal

Published: 15 September 2016

About the ERC Proof of Concept

The European Research Council (ERC) offers an additional funding initiative, open to researchers who have already been awarded an ERC grant (Starting, Consolidator, Advanced or Synergy). The ERC Proof of Concept (PoC) scheme aims to bridge the gap between research and marketable innovation. ttopstart has a 90% success rate for ERC PoC proposals and we have summarised our best practices to guide you towards your own successful ERC PoC project.

Additional funding for ERC grantees

ERC grant holders can apply for additional funding in the ERC PoC scheme, in order to establish the innovation potential of ideas arising from their ERC-funded frontier research projects. The funding will cover activities at the very early stage of turning research outputs into a commercial or socially valuable proposition, i.e. the initial steps of pre-competitive development. The ERC PoC funding is made available only to those who already have an ERC awarded to establish proof of concept of an idea that was generated in the course of their ERC-funded projects. The maximum duration of the ERC PoC Grants is up to 18 months and a maximum of EUR 150.000 may be awarded (100% funding).

Our tips for writing a successful ERC PoC grant proposal


It is important to make sure your project fits the ERC PoC programme, i.e.:

  • You are an ERC laureate;
  • You have a protectable invention that results from your ERC research (preferably a patent application has been filed);
  • You have sound preliminary data;
  • There is clear commercialisation potential;
  • There is no definitive commercialisation plan yet.

Examples include:

New medical devices, new therapies, platform technologies, IVDs, robotic systems, research tools.


The structure of your proposal will help to guide the reviewers, who are typically not familiar with the technology.

  • Start from the problem you are addressing and quantify it;
  • Present your proposition i.e. “Our platform will be the first to allow stratification of patients at risk of …” instead of “Our platform is super sensitive”;
  • Make sure to balance technical work and commercial feasibility assessment;
  • Involve business developers (e.g. from your tech transfer office and/or ttopstart).


The reviewer will judge your proposal on the feasibility plan, not the underlying science, so there is no need for lengthy scientific descriptions. Furthermore:

  • Keep it simple;
  • Be specific;
  • Focus on the business case;
  • Refrain from very generic / high-level market descriptions; such as “The market for stem cells will reach  € X bln by 2020”;
  • Clearly list the steps needed towards market introduction and commercial success.


The ERC PoC is all about commercialisation.

  • Illustrate both the short and the long-term impact of the project on e.g. patients, society, industry and/or science;
  • Make sure you show you understand the market and its challenges;
  • Include all relevant aspects of commercialisation: IP, possible; business / earnings models, route to market, team, market size, regulatory aspects, etc;
  • Get support letters from industry;
  • Make sure to include a risk and mitigation plan;
  • Keep the end-goal in mind: an investor’s case.

Request assistance

Are you wondering if you should apply for an ERC PoC grant? If you need advice or would like us to write your application, you can contact us. We are always happy to answer any questions.