H2020 ERC 2019 call Writing a Successful ERC Grant Proposal

In this workshop for ERC Starting and Consolidator applicants we will discuss the ERC and panel specifics for the scientific proposal and Principal Investigator.

The ERC selection criteria applied by the panels use terms which have become familiar jargon, such as important challenge, novel concept, scientific approach, and feasibility. Most of these terms are also used by other funding agencies but they are interpreted and applied differently. This workshop will explain in detail not only what these terms mean and imply under the ERC umbrella but also how the ERC panel members use these terms to discuss, assess, and select project proposals. This process differs from panel to panel: for example feasibility of the scientific approach is assessed differently in social sciences from life sciences, and development of a new methodology has a different meaning in social sciences from physics. What does this imply? This workshop will supply you with the necessary knowledge to write a successful ERC proposal and will be an invaluable aid in meeting the ERC standards and getting one step closer to obtaining an ERC grant.

Using the ERC guide “Instructions for Applicants” we will explain how you can address the ERC selection criteria and the panel specifics and draft a competitive project proposal. For example, we will examine keywords used in the ERC documentation and explain how to present a competitive proposal by focusing on high quality research. We will discuss what defines high quality research and how can the ERC evaluation criteria be used to translate your project idea into high quality research. How can the term ‘groundbreaking’ be used to mark the innovativeness of the proposed research and the term ‘high gain’ to demonstrate the potential breakthrough in science? How can your ambition be balanced by evidence for feasibility and back-up plans?

We will explain in detail how you address the evaluation criteria and in particular innovativeness and feasibility in view of the panel specifics and research fields.

We will also discuss the panel specifics concerning the quality of the CVs and track-record of ERC grantees. What are the norms per panel and what does this mean for the CVs of the participants planning to submit under H2020? What “actions” do participants have to highlight or undertake to bring their CV in line with the expectations of the selected panel?

Training objectives

To provide researchers with a good understanding of:

  • the evaluation criteria and how to analyse them;
  • what makes an excellent PI according to the reviewers of the different domains/panels;
  • how to write a competitive scientific proposal considering panel specifics and type of project.

Who should attend?

The workshop will be of value for applicants who want to submit an ERC proposal as well as for support staff. Depending on the scientific backgrounds of the participants we will highlight domain specific issues.


The seminar will be in English, with no translation. The trainer(s) will provide practical information and discuss the requested information, the evaluation criteria, and the best strategy for drafting the proposal with the participants.

The workshop is highly interactive and includes discussions to promote an exchange of views between participants and trainer(s). Each participant receives an extensive guide with the information on the topics listed in the programme.


Yellow Research has extensive experience in running ERC workshops and in pre-submission review of ERC Starting, Consolidator, and Advanced grants. At Yellow Research we have successfully trained candidates for writing ERC proposals since the 2008 Call. Our knowledge and experience in pre-submission review of ERC proposals is an important aspect of our success in this training.



Start of the workshop

Part I

ERC Grants in a nutshell

ERC objectives, selection criteria, evaluation procedure, and eligibility criteria.

Part II

Concept development

We will discuss what is required to develop a project idea for an ERC proposal in view of the ERC evaluation criteria.

Coffee break

Part III

Scientific Proposal: Objectives, concept, gain, and scientific approach

Using the ERC writing instructions and the evaluation criteria we will discuss how to present the project idea and scientific approach to the critical external referees. We will discuss ERC terms including challenge, ambition, groundbreaking, and impact, and how panels select proposals.



Part IV

Continuation: Work plan, methodology and resources

In this section we will discuss how to present the intermediate goals, planned activities and methodology to the reviewer who has to assess the appropriateness of the methodology to achieve the goals. We will also discuss how to balance your ambition and high risks with evidence for feasibility, alternative plans, and resources.

Part V

Cover Page and Extended Synopsis

We will discuss how to present the Scientific Proposal to the panel in step 1 of the evaluation. What are the panel members looking for? The emphasis will be on the groundbreaking nature and feasibility of the proposal and how the outcomes of the research will impact further research and society.

Part VI

Principal Investigator

We will address the key elements for Curriculum Vitae including Funding ID, 10 year Track Record and assessment of career achievements.


End of course

Course fee

The YR course fee is € 625,00 per participant (VAT exempted), incl. coffee & tea, lunch and course materials.

Date, Location, Contact

Date(s): not scheduled, available as in-house event

Time: 07:15 – 15:00

Location: Yellow Research, Veembroederhof 5-7, 1019 HD, Amsterdam


Click on the blue button ‘Book this course’ on the top of this page to book online. For questions about this course, please contact Sarah Jones at jones[at]yellowresearch[dot]nl .