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Excellent Science

Programmes in Excellent Science aim to reinforce and extend the excellence of the Union’s science base and to consolidate the European Research Area in order to make the Union’s research and innovation system more competitive on a global scale.

  • European Research Council

    European Research Council (ERC) grants support individual researchers of any nationality and age who wish to pursue their frontier research.

    Starting Grants

    ERC Starting Grants aim to support up-and-coming research leaders who are about to establish a proper research team and to start conducting independent research in Europe. Researchers of any nationality with 2-7 years of experience since completion of PhD (or equivalent degree) and scientific track record showing great promise can apply.

    Consolidator Grants

    ERC Consolidator Grants are designed to support researchers at the stage at which they are consolidating their own independent research team or programme. Researchers of any nationality with 7-12 years of experience since completion of PhD (or equivalent degree) and scientific track record showing great promise can apply.

    Advanced Grants

    ERC Advanced Grants allow exceptional established research leaders of any nationality and any age to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects that open new directions in their respective research fields or other domains. Researchers of any nationality with a recent research track-record and profile which identifies them as leaders in their respective field(s) of research can apply.

    Synergy Grants

    ERC Synergy Grants are intended to enable minimum two to maximum four Principal Investigators and their teams to bring together complementary skills, knowledge, and resources in new ways, in order to jointly address ambitious research problems. Groups of a minimum of two and a maximum of four Principal Investigators (PIs) can apply.

    Proof of Concept

    ERC Proof of Concept is open to researchers who have already been awarded an ERC grant. This additional funding is intended to establish the innovation potential of ideas arising from their ERC-funded frontier research projects. Principal Investigators benefitting from an ERC Grant that is either ongoing, or where the project has ended less than 12 months before the publication date of an ERC Proof of Concept call can apply. The Principal Investigator must be able to demonstrate the link between the idea and the related ERC-funded project.

  • Future and Emerging Technologies

    Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) actions are expected to initiate radically new lines of technology through unexplored collaborations between advanced multidisciplinary science and cutting-edge engineering.

    FET Open

    FET Open funds projects on new ideas for radically new future technologies, at an early stage when there are few researchers working on a project topic. This can involve a wide range of new technological possibilities, inspired by cutting-edge science, unconventional collaborations or new research and innovation practices. In the 2018-2020 Work Programme, FET Open is part of the European Innovation Council pilot.

    FET Proactive

    FET Proactive nurtures emerging themes, seeking to establish a critical mass of European researchers in a number of promising exploratory research topics. This supports areas that are not yet ready for inclusion in industry research roadmaps, with the aim of building up and structuring new interdisciplinary research communities. Topics in the 2018-2020 Work Programme include: living technologies, socially interactive technologies, technologies related to time, artificial organs, micro-energy technologies, and topological matter.

    FET Flagships

    FET Flagships are 1-billion, 10-years initiatives where hundreds of excellent European researchers unite forces to focus on solving an ambitious scientific and technological challenge. The 2018-2020 Work Programme supports the continuation of the Graphene and Human Brain Project flagships, with a clear shift to innovation and impact. It also features the ramp-up of a new flagship on Quantum Technologies.

  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

    Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) support the career development and training of researchers – with a focus on innovation skills – in all scientific disciplines through worldwide and cross-sector mobility.

    Innovative Training Networks (ITN)

    ITNs support competitively selected joint research training and/or doctoral programmes, implemented by European partnerships of universities, research institutions, and non-academic organisations. The research training programmes provide experience outside academia, hence developing innovation and employability skills. ITNs include industrial doctorates, in which non-academic organisations have an equal role to universities in respect of the researcher's time and supervision, and joint doctoral degrees delivered by several universities. Furthermore, non-European organisations can participate as additional partners in ITNs, enabling doctoral-level candidates to gain experience outside Europe during their training.

    Individual fellowships (IF)

    Individual Fellowships support the mobility of researchers within and beyond Europe - as well as helping to attract the best foreign researchers to work in the EU. The grant usually covers two years' salary, a mobility allowance, research costs and overheads for the host institution. Individual researchers submit proposals for funding in liaison with their planned host organisation. Proposals are judged on their research quality, the researcher's future career prospects, and the support offered by the host organisation. Fellows can also spend part of the fellowship elsewhere in Europe if this would boost impact, and those restarting their career in Europe benefit from special eligibility conditions.

    Research and Innovation Staff Exchanges (RISE)

    RISE support short-term mobility of research and innovation staff at all career levels, from the most junior (post-graduate) to the most senior (management), including also administrative and technical staff. It is open to partnerships of universities, research institutions, and non-academic organisations both within and beyond Europe. In worldwide partnerships, academia-to-academia exchanges are permitted.


    COFUND programmes offer additional funding to regional, national and international programmes for research training and career development. The scheme supports doctoral and fellowship programmes that encourage the movement of researchers across borders and provide good working conditions.

  • Research Infrastructures

    Research infrastructures are facilities, resources and services that are used by the research communities to conduct research and foster innovation in their fields. Where relevant, they may be used beyond research, e.g. for education or public services. They include: major scientific equipment (or sets of instruments); knowledge-based resources such as collections, archives or scientific data; e-infrastructures, such as data and computing systems and communication networks; and any other infrastructure of a unique nature essential to achieve excellence in research and innovation.