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ERA Chairs

Specific challenge:Outstanding researchers can have a decisive and positive impact on the culture and performance of research institutions. Yet issues such as the availability of research funding, institutional rigidities and access to resources can hamper the mobility of such leaders to promising institutions, particularly in low performing Member States and regions.  ERA Chairs actions will address the specific challenge to create the appropriate conditions and opportunities for high quality researchers and research managers to move and engage with willing institutions to improve the excellence of their research and thereby modify their research and innovation landscape.

Scope: The ERA Chairs actions will support universities or other eligible research organisations[1] to attract and maintain high quality human resources and implement the structural changes necessary to achieve excellence on a sustainable basis. An ERA Chair holder should be an outstanding researcher and research manager in the given field of research, with a proven record of effective leadership. They should establish their own team and help the research organisation to significantly improve its research performance and to be more successful in obtaining competitive funding.

Research organisations interested in establishing an ERA Chair shall submit a proposal aimed at facilitating structural change in the institution and ensuring that the conditions are in place to foster excellent research. This should include arrangements for compliance with ERA priorities[2] including the European Charter for Researchers & Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers[3], better use of the installed research capacity (in particular of EU co-funded research infrastructures & facilities) and/or a description of the necessary investments in facilities and infrastructures. For the latter, interactions with national or regional authorities and other stakeholders to coordinate actions and mobilise support, including, where relevant, from European Structural and Investment Funds, are a must.

The ERA Chairs may be in any domains of research and innovation addressed under the Treaty, but are expected to be in line with relevant regional and national strategies for smart specialisation. The Chair should have a full-time position within the organisation/university, professor or similar, that will allow her/him to freely apply for research funding in order to raise the level of research excellence of the team and the institution. The appointment of an ERA Chair holder must follow an open and merit-based recruitment process, and will be subject to monitoring by the European Commission. The appointment will be undertaken by the host institution at the beginning of the action. The position of the ERA Chair holder must be open to all EU and non-EU nationals.

The grant will cover the appointment of the ERA Chair holder and a number of team members and will also provide a contribution towards measures aimed at facilitating structural changes in the institution, for a maximum period of five years. Hence, the grant is not a measure to fund research per se.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 2.5 million, would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting lower amounts.

Expected impact:

  • Increased attractiveness of the institution, region and country for internationally excellent and mobile researchers.
  • Increased research excellence of the institution in the specific fields covered by the ERA Chair holders.
  • Improved capability to compete successfully for internationally competitive research funding.
  • Institutional changes within the ERA host institution to implement the European Research Area priorities, (including an open recruitment policy, gender balance, peer review, and doctoral training);
  • Contributing to the objectives of regional or national smart specialisation strategies, including increased interactions with economic and social actions, and complementing support provided under the European Structural and Investment Funds.


Type of action: Coordination and support Actions

The conditions related to this topic are provided in the general conditions for this call and in the General Annexes.

[1]  “research organisation” means a non-profit making organisation which carries out scientific or technical research as its main objective


[3] European Commission Recommendation to the Member States C(2005)576 final