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ERC Starting Grants 2023: 400 laureates in Europe, 50 for France

ERC Starting Grants 2023: 400 laureates in Europe, 50 for France

The European Research Council (ERC) has just published the list of the 400 laureates who will receive the Starting Grants scholarships in Europe, which are financial assistance to help early career researchers launch and drive their own scientific projects. France, second country in Europe to benefit from it, 50 projects were deemed eligible.

The European Research Council, in charge of coordinating efforts for research between EU Member States, aims at funding projects of researchers from all nationalities developed in Europe. In 2023, the European Research Council chose 400 scientists in Europe who received a scholarship from the Starting Grant programme reaching 628 million euros, a programme which is part of the more general project Horizon Europe.


A programme specifically designed for young researchers

The Starting Grants programme is exclusively directed towards young researchers who are just starting their career, i.e. two to seven years after their thesis. As the French ministry in charge of research stresses, with an average 1.5 million euros endowment over five years, each laureate will develop “a team of his/her choice to work on a scientific problem of excellence, exploratory, at the frontier of knowledge”.

Starting Grants are thus part of a 4-steps funding system aiming at four different targets. They are the first type of European funding accessible to young researchers and are set before the Consolidator scholarships (7 to 12 years after PhD/doctorate), the Advanced programme (experienced researchers) and the Synergy Grants (associate researchers). In 2023, the total number of projects making part of the Starting Grants programme supervised by the European Research Council reached 2,692 all over Europe, examined by “renowned research groups from all over the world”. In conclusion, 400 applications were deemed eligible, a success rate of 14.8%.


High success rate for France

In France, 50 projects are eligible to the ERC call 2023 this year, out of the 246 projects France submitted to the Council. Thus, as the French ministry of research concludes, “France’s success rate is about 20.2%, much higher than the European average (14.8%)”.

Applicants chosen for this call will achieve their projects in universities and research centres in 24 European countries, the highest number of projects being hosted in Germany (87 grants), France (50), the Netherlands (44) and the United Kingdom (32). These young researchers come from countries in Europe and elsewhere, with 44 nationalities represented, including German (66 researchers), Italian (57), French (32) and Dutch (27). To be noted that 43% of the grants were granted this year to women researchers, the highest part since the launch of the Starting Grants programme (39% in 2022).


All Research Fields

Projects are part of all research disciplines, and particularly physics and engineering science (173 laureates), humanities and social sciences (117 laureates) and life science (110 laureates). For France, the ranking is slightly different: 58% of laureates are physics researchers, 28% are in life science and 14% in social science.

Laureates will come to France in various host entities, such as the CNRS, which salutes with its 20 laureates its “strength in terms of capacity to respond to ERC applications with a 19.6% success rate”. More entities will also host young researchers, such as the INSERM (6 laureates), the INRIA (3), the national Foundation for Political Sciences (2), the Ecole Normale Supérieure (2), the University of Montpellier (2) and 15 additional institutions each hosting a project leader.


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