In quest of excellence

 

The Swedish Foundations’ Starting Grant (SFSG) addresses prominent early-career researchers (with host institutions in Sweden) who in tough competition scored among the best (”A”) in the most recent European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant call yet narrowly missed out on a grant due to the limit funding available.

SFSG relies on the ERC:s well-renowned peer-review process as the basis of its quality assessment to minimise the administrative effort in offering prominent researchers a second chance at funding from one of the participating five, private Swedish research foundations: The Erling-Persson Family Foundation, Kempe Foundations, Olle Engkvist Foundation, Ragnar Söderberg Foundation and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

Eligible researchers apply through a joint application process via which the participating foundations assess the proposals— with regards to their respective statutes, priorities and resources available — and the opportunity to award candidates an SFSG grant in the amount originally applied for at the ERC.

A Swedish Foundations’ Starting Grant is granted for one year at a time and is guaranteed for up to five five years, provided that any succesful applicant continues to annually apply for ERC grants when possible. The aim of the initiative is not to replace funding from the European Research Council but rather — by providing additional chances of funding when possible — to encourage more young researchers at Swedish universities to apply for the ERC StG despite the magnitude of the competition and effort involved.

Illustration: Josefina Söderberg. © Ragnar Söderbergs stiftelse 2015.

The ERC process

Every year, around 3000 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. The proposals are evaluated by high-level scientists as international peer reviewers. In their scientific proposals, the applicants must demonstrate the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of 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”. But not all of
them are granted funding.

 

Swedish foundations’ initiative

A group of Swedish foundations have launched a new call for Sweden-based early-career researchers that receive the highest score in tough European competition but are not granted funding – the Swedish Foundations’ Starting Grant.

A Swedish Foundations’ Starting Grant is

  • granted for one year at a time and awards the amount applied for from the ERC,
  • guaranteed for five years, given that a new application to the ERC is submitted, if possible,
  • funded by one of the foundations: The Erling-Persson Family Foundation, the Kempe Foundations, the Foundation Olle Engkvist Byggmästare, Ragnar Söderberg Foundation or Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

Apply now!

If your application has been given score A but not received funding, click to read how to apply for Swedish Foundations’ Starting Grant.