The aim is to provide support for a small group of two to four Principal Investigators to jointly address ambitious research problems that could not be addressed by the individual Principal Investigators and their teams working alone. Synergy projects should enable substantial advances at the frontiers of knowledge, stemming, for example, from the cross-fertilization of scientific fields, from new productive lines of enquiry, or new methods and techniques, including unconventional approaches and investigations at the interface between established disciplines. The transformative research funded by Synergy Grants should have the potential of becoming a benchmark on a global scale.
Principal Investigators must demonstrate the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their scientific proposal. Principal Investigators must also demonstrate that their group can successfully bring together the scientific elements necessary to address the scope and complexity of the proposed research question.
One of the Principal Investigators must be designated as the Corresponding Principal Investigator. At any one time, one Principal Investigator per Synergy Grant Group except the Corresponding one can be hosted or engaged by an institution outside of the EU or Associated Countries.
Size of ERC Synergy Grants
Synergy Grants may be awarded up to a maximum of EUR 10 000 000 for a period of 6 years. The maximum award is reduced pro rata temporis for projects of a shorter duration. This does not apply to ongoing projects.
However, up to an additional EUR 4 000 000 in total can be requested in the proposal to cover (a) eligible ‘start-up’ costs for Principal Investigators moving to the EU or an Associated Country from elsewhere as a consequence of receiving the ERC grant and/or (b) the purchase of major equipment and/or (c) access to large facilities and/or (d) other major experimental and field work costs, excluding personnel costs. As any additional funding is to cover major one-off costs it is not subject to pro rata temporis reduction for projects of shorter duration. All funding requested is assessed during evaluation.
Profile of the ERC Synergy Grant Principal Investigators
The 'Synergy Grant Group' applying for the ERC Synergy Grant must be made up of a minimum of two and a maximum of four Principal Investigators with competitive track records and, as necessary, their teams.
Each Principal Investigator must present as part of the proposal either an early achievement track-record or a 10-year track-record, whichever is most appropriate for their career stage (see Starting, Consolidator and Advanced Grant profiles in the ERC Work Programme 2020). There is little prospect of an application succeeding in the absence of such a record.