Frontier research often generates unexpected or new opportunities for commercial or societal application. The ERC Proof of Concept Grants aim to maximise the value of the excellent research that the ERC funds, by funding further work (i.e. activities which were not scheduled to be funded by the original ERC frontier research grant) to verify the innovation potential of ideas arising from ERC funded projects. Proof of Concept Grants are therefore on offer only to Principal Investigators whose proposals draw substantially on their ERC funded research.
All proposals will be subject to ethics review as with proposals for the ERC's frontier research grants.
Maximum size of grant and grant assessment
The financial contribution will be up to a maximum of EUR 150 000 for a period of 18 months. The ERC expects that normally, proof of concept projects should be completed within 12 months. However, to allow for those projects that require more preparation time, projects will be signed for 18 months. Given this initial flexibility, extensions of the duration of proof of concept projects may be granted only exceptionally.
The overall level of the funding offered will be assessed during the evaluation. The funding requested by the applicant will be judged against the needs of the proposed activity before award. The funding requested by the Principal Investigator must be fully justified by an estimation of the actual costs for the proposed activities.
The Union financial contribution will take the form of the reimbursement of up to 100% of the total eligible and approved direct costs and of flat-rate financing of indirect costs on the basis of 25% of the total eligible direct cost (Excluding the direct costs for subcontracting and the costs of resources made available by third parties which are not used on the premises of the host institution). The level of the awarded grant represents a maximum overall figure – the final amount to be paid must be justified on the basis of the costs actually incurred for the project.
The indicative budget for this call for 2017 is EUR 20 000 000 (approximately one-third of which will be for each of the three evaluation rounds following three specific deadlines).
Topic conditions and documents
Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application (for more detailed information please refer to the Information for Applicants to the Proof of Concept Grant 2017 Call and theFrequently Asked Questions -FAQs).
The budget breakdown for this call is given in the call conditions section of the ERC Work Programme 2017.
1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: The conditions specific to the ERC are described in the ERC Work Programme 2017 under the heading 'Eligibility criteria' and in 'Annex 3'.
2. Eligibility conditions: The conditions specific to European Research Council (ERC) grants are described in the ERC Work Programme 2017, under the heading 'Eligibility criteria' and in the ERC Rules for Submission and Evaluation under Section 2.4. An overview is provided below:
Eligible proposals: All proposals must be complete and be submitted before the relevant call deadline. Incomplete proposals may be declared ineligible (see ERC Proof of Concept Grant proposal submission and description in the ERC Work Programme 2017).
The content of the proposal must relate to the objectives and to the grant type set out in the call, as defined in this work programme. A proposal will only be deemed ineligible on grounds of ‘scope’ in clear-cut cases.
Eligible Principal Investigator: All Principal Investigators in an ERC frontier research project, that is either on going or has ended less than 12 months before 1 January 2017, are eligible to participate and apply for an ERC Proof of Concept Grant.
A Principal Investigator whose proposal was rejected on the grounds of a breach of research integrity in the calls for proposals under Work Programmes 2015 or 2016 may not submit a proposal to the calls for proposals made under ERC Work Programme 2017.
Eligible Host Institution: The host institution (Applicant Legal Entity ) must engage the Principal Investigator for at least the duration of the proof of concept project as defined in the grant agreement and must be established in a Member State or an Associated Country as a legal entity created under national law .
Please also refer to Annex 3 of the ERC Work Programme 2017 - Countries Associated to Horizon 2020 and Restrictions Applying to Some Legal Entities Established in Certain Third Countries.
3.1 Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: the conditions specific to the European Research Council (ERC) are described in the ERC Work Programme 2017 under the heading 'Evaluation criteria' and in the ERC Rules for Submission and Evaluation. An overview is provided below:
A single-stage submission and single-step evaluation procedure will be used. The evaluation will be conducted by independent experts. These experts may work remotely and may if necessary meet as an evaluation panel as set out below on the application of the evaluation criteria.
Proof of Concept Grants are awarded in relation to an existing ERC-funded project which has already been evaluated on the basis of excellence as the sole criterion. The evaluation criteria for selection of proposals for Proof of Concept Grants are excellence in innovation potential, impact and quality and efficiency of the implementation. The detailed evaluation elements applying to the proof of concept project and the Principal Investigator are set out in the ERC Work Programme 2017.
3.2 Guide to the submission and evaluation process: please refer to the ERC Rules for Submission and Evaluation. For more information on the peer review evaluation methodology, please refer to theERC Guide for Peer Reviewers applying to the Proof of Concept call.
4. Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part A and Part B of the standard proposal template.
A complete proposal is composed of:
- Administrative Proposal Submission Forms (Part A), including the Ethics review Table, are available online via the Participant Portal Submission System (PPSS) - pre-registration is required first.
- The Proposal (Part B) and any supporting documentation should be uploaded and submitted via Participant Portal Submission System as PDF files.
Part B (7 pages + Budget Table):
• The Idea and Justification on Innovation Potential : max. 2 pages
• Expected Impact of the proposed Innovation : 2 pages
• The proof of concept plan : 2 pages
• Budget Table and Budget justification: 1 page (+ Budget Table)
The Supplementary Documents:
• Host Institution Binding Statement of Support (available on this page under Section 6 below and as word-template in PPSS)
• Ethics review self-assessment (if applicable) and supporting documentation.
The minimum font size allowed is 11 points. The page size is A4 (with single line spacing). Side margins should be at least 20 mm and the bottom and top margins at least 15mm. Ensure that the font type chosen is clearly readable (e.g. Arial or Times New Roman).
In fairness to all applicants a strict limit of seven pages (+ one page for the budget table) will be applied to the length of proposals. Only the material that is presented within this limit will be evaluated (peer reviewers will only be asked to evaluate, and will be under no obligation to read beyond, the material presented within the page limit).
5. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:
Please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2017 under the heading 'Indicative summary of main calls from the 2017 budget'.
6. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type of action under this topic:
- Specific provisions and funding rates: please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2017 under the headings 'Proof of Concept grants' and 'Maximum size of grant and grant assessment'.
- Information for Applicants to the Proof of Concept Grants 2017 Call
Proposal templates are available after entering the submission tool below.
- ERC proposal template for POC (administrative forms and structure of technical annex)
- ERC standard evaluation form for POC: please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2017 under the heading 'ERC Proof of Concept Grant Evaluation'.
- Horizon 2020 Annotated Model Grant Agreement
- Horizon 2020 ERC MGA PoC - Multi-Benificiary
- Horizon 2020 ERC MGA PoC - Mono-Benificiary
7. Additional provisions:
Horizon 2020 budget flexibility : please refer to the ERC Work Programme 2017 in the Proof of Concept grants section, under the heading 'Maximum size of grant and grant assessment'.
8. Open access:
The ERC supports the principle of open access to the published output of research, including in particular peer-reviewed articles and monographs, as a fundamental part of its mission. It also supports the basic principle of open access to research data and data related products such as computer code. The ERC considers that providing free online access to all these materials can be the most effective way of ensuring that the fruits of the research it funds can be accessed, read and used as the basis for further research.
Under Horizon 2020, beneficiaries of ERC grants must ensure open access to all peer-reviewed scientific publications relating to their results as set out in Article 29.2 of the ERC Model Grant Agreement.