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ERC’s 2022 Synergy Grants call oversubscribed tenfold

Image: Grace Eliz for Research Professional

European Research Council received 358 applications but expects to award just 33 grants

The European Research Council has received 10 times as many applications for its 2022 Synergy Grants call as it expects to be able to fund.

Unlike most ERC grants, which support single researchers, Synergy Grants give teams of two to four principal investigators up to €14 million for work on projects too ambitious to be tackled by any individual alone.

Researchers have submitted 358 applications to the 2022 Synergy Grant call, requesting an average of €9m each or about €3.22 billion altogether, the ERC revealed on 25 November.

It added that it has earmarked just €297m from its budget to fund 33 of the projects.

These figures would give a success rate for the applications of about 9.2 per cent. This is low even for the ERC, whose leaders have repeatedly stressed in recent years that, due to an insufficient budget, the funder is unable to support a large number of proposals that are evaluated as being excellent.

Almost 1,200 researchers based at just over 1,000 institutions were involved in the proposals. Most institutions, 154, were based in Germany, followed by the UK with 147.

Women made up 27 per cent of the researchers, up from 23 per cent in the previous call in 2020. The share of proposals involving at least one female principal investigator also rose, to 62 per cent from 55 per cent.