The call addresses prominent early-career researchers based at host institutions in Sweden, who in tough competition scored among the best in the most recent European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant call yet narrowly missed out on a grant due to the limited available ERC funding.
The Swedish Foundations’ Starting Grant (SFSG) aims to support prominent early-career researchers to pursue the groundbreaking research proposed in their ERC application. Researchers who are awarded SFSG get a head start to their projects and are thus in an even better position when they apply to the ERC next year. By providing additional chances of funding for top scoring (’A’) ERC application the funders behind SFSG hope to motivate more researchers to invest the necessary time and effort of writing such an application, thereby increasing the overall number of researchers in Sweden who receive ERC Starting Grants.
SFSG relies on the ERC’s well-renowned peer review process as the basis for the quality assessment. This minimizes the administrative effort for both the researchers and the participating funders.
An awarded Swedish Foundations’ Starting Grant
- awards the amount originally applied for from the ERC,
- is granted for one year at a time and up to five years, given that the researcher continues to apply for ERC Starting Grants (when eligible),
- is funded by one of the participating organisations: Erling-Persson Foundation, Kempe Foundations, Foundation Olle Engkvist Byggmästare, Ragnar Söderberg Foundation, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond or Svenska Sällskapet för Medicinsk Forskning.
The ERC process
Every year around 4,000 early-career researchers apply for EU funding in the ERC Starting Grant call. They invest many hours and make a huge effort when writing their research proposals demonstrating that they are talented scientists with potential to be independent research leaders. The ultimate goal is to be awarded up to €1.5 million for a period of five years.
The sole evaluation criterion is scientific excellence and in their scientific proposals, the applicants must demonstrate the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of the proposed projects.
The applications are evaluated by 25 evaluation panels. Each panel consists of 12–15 of Europe’s leading researchers in the field. They scrutinise the project plan, the potential of the proposed research and the skills of the researcher. A small number of applicants pass to the second step of the evaluation, which includes an interview. The result of the second step is a score, either ´A´ or ´B´. Score ´A´ means that the proposal “fully meets the ERC’s excellence criterion and is recommended for funding if sufficient funds are available”. However, not all applications are funded due to the limitations of ERC’s budget. .