Application Rates Increase by 24% for First ERC Starting Grants under Horizon Europe

The European Research Council has released initial application figures for the first Starting Grant call to launch under Horizon Europe.

The European Research Council (ERC) has published application figures for its Starting Grants call 2021, one of the first calls to launch under Horizon Europe.

ERC Starting Grants enable early career researchers (ECRs) to conduct frontier research in any field in EU Member States and Associated Countries. Awards are issued based on scientific merit, judged according to the ground breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of applicants’ proposals.

This year’s call opened for applications on 25 February and closed on 12 April 2021. In this time, a total of 4,056 applications were submitted, an increase of 24% from the 3,272 applications that were submitted to the 2020 call.

The ERC anticipates awarding 413 Starting Grants from this round of funding, which would result in a success rate of approximately 10.2%, a notable drop from the 13.3% success rate of the 2020 call. However, it is likely that the budget for future calls – which this year stood at €613 million, down from the €677 million for the 2020 call – will increase as more non-EU countries join the scheme, which may result in a higher success rate.

Broken down by subject, the ERC revealed that 1,754 (43.2%) of applications were submitted in the area of Physical Sciences and Engineering; 1,185 (29.2%) were submitted in Social Science fields; and 1,117 (27.5%) were submitted in Humanities and Life Sciences. Additionally, nearly 40% of proposals were submitted by women, compared to 38% in the 2020 call.

Evaluation of the 2021 call for proposals is currently underway, with an announcement of the first projects to be supported under the scheme in Horizon Europe to be made towards the end of 2021. The next round of ERC Starting Grants is expected to launch on 23 September 2021, with a preliminary deadline of 13 January 2022.