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My winning proposal: Scoring the ERC’s biggest grant


The European Research Council is bringing back Synergy Grants, its largest award. David Edwards, whose project on paediatric brain scans won €15m, tells Craig Nicholson long-term collaborations—and luck—are crucial.

In 2012 and 2013, the European Research Council piloted Synergy Grants—large awards of up to €15 million. They aimed to bring together a small number of principal investigators with different skills and resources to tackle challenges in basic science using “unconventional approaches and investigations at the crossroads of established disciplines”.

Synergy Grants were immensely popular, with 1,124 applications submitted over two years. As the scheme had a budget of just €150m per year, only 24 projects were funded, giving a success rate of just 2 per cent.

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