12 Jun / ERC Synergy Grant (SyG) – what do you have to know

The ERC Synergy Grant (SyG) was reintroduced in the 2018 ERC work program. Based on the work program and on our past experience in the previous rounds of the ERC Synergy Grant in 2012 and 2013,  this is what you should know about this unique grant:

The concept

  • ERC Synergy Grant (SyG) projects are intended to enable a group of 2-4 Principal Investigators and their teams to bring together complementary skills, knowledge, and resources in new ways, in order to jointly address ambitious research problems.
  • This is not the regular collaborative project: The nature of the collaboration within an ERC Synergy Group is expected to be fundamentally different from that of a network or consortium of undertakings, universities, research centres or other legal entities.
  • The bar is high: The aim is to promote substantial advances at the frontiers of knowledge, to cross-fertilize scientific fields, and to encourage new productive lines of enquiry and new methods and techniques, including unconventional approaches and investigations at the interface between established disciplines.
  • The sole criterion of ERC – “Excellence” – applies here as well.

The PIs

  • All participating PIs must be ERC material, namely, able to demonstrate an outstanding track record of scientific excellence and international acknowledgment.
  • All career stage categories (Starting, Consolidator and/or Advanced) can participate. There is not official preference to specific category. It is probable, however, that a combination of PIs from different categories, reflecting synergism between career stages will be positively perceived.

The numbers

  • The expected duration of each SyG project is 6 years.
  • The expected grant of each SyG project is €10 million, with a potential expansion of €4 million (for (a) eligible “start-up” costs for Principal Investigators moving to the EU or an Associated Country from elsewhere as a consequence of receiving the ERC grant and/or (b) the purchase of major equipment and/or (c) access to large facilities.)
  • The deadline for SyG in 2018 is November 14th, 2017
  • The current ERC plan is to fund ~30 SyG projects in 2018, which is nearly 3 times the amount of SyG projects that were funded in 2012 / 2013.

The evaluation

  • A three-step peer-reviewed evaluation process, including an interview in Brussels.
  • There are evaluation questions dedicated to SyG, on top of the regular ERC evaluation questions.
  • Specific blocking restrictions will be applied in case an application is rejected. Please read more about the PI’s blocking mechanism.


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By Yoram Bar-Zeev in ERC posts