On November 17th, 2014, the workshop "How to write a successful ERC Starting and Consolidator Grant" was held at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster, Germany, organised by the Secretariat of the National Research Platform for Zoonoses. The target group were young scientists who are in the 2nd - 7th year (Starting Grant) or 7th - 12th year after their PhD and who would like to use the opportunity to establish their independent scientific career in an international context with funding from the European Research Council.
The workshop offered the 30 participants an overview of the ERC Starting and Consolidator Grant funding schemes and provided sufficient space for exchange among themselves and with the selected speakers.
In their presentations, the speakers offered insights into the funding guidelines from different perspectives. Two speakers, Patrick Hartmann from the National Contact Point ERC of the EU Office of the BMBF and Kent Hung from European Research Services GmbH, were invited to give presentations on the formal and structural guidelines for application and helpful contact addresses. Professor Thomas Pietschmann from TWINCORE in Hanover and Professor Friedrich Frischknecht from the University Hospital in Heidelberg, both of whom were awarded a Starting Grant from the European Research Council in 2011, reported from the perspective of successful applicants on what needs to be taken into account when preparing a proposal and the individual steps of the review process. In addition, Professor Friedemann Weber from the University of Marburg and Professor Christian Münz from the University of Zurich, two scientists with peer review experience in the ERC Panel "Immunity and Infection", were present to supplement the presentations of the other speakers with helpful tips.
Common to all presentations was the statement that an essential aspect of successful proposal submission is sufficiently intensive preparation, which includes an exchange with other scientists. Drawing on the wealth of experience of other applicants and also consultants is the first important step in this process, which was initiated by the workshop of the National Research Platform for Zoonoses.