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Fears for European Research Council as applications surge and success rates fall

Lowest-ever success rates for Advanced Grants “very problematic” for EU’s flagship funder, sector leaders warn

The European Research Council is in danger of being undermined by plummeting success rates for its major grants, with sector leaders warning that its administrators could be so overwhelmed by bids that the best researchers are put off from applying in future.

This month the ERC, which has been described as the jewel in the crown of the EU’s R&D funding programmes, reported the lowest success rate for its Advanced Grants for established researchers in the scheme’s 13-year history. Just 8 per cent of applications to the 2020 round were successful, as requests for funding surged 42 per cent from their 2019 level to 2,678, while the number of awards increased just 13 per cent to 209.

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