European Research Council grants open to UK‑based researchers

24 February 2021

Horizon Europe is off to a flying start, with the European Research Council 2021 work programme adopted on 22nd February. Researchers from UK universities are able to apply 'pre-association.' A timetable for the first calls has been set out:

  • Starting Grants open on 25th February
  • Consolidator Grants open on 11th March
  • Advanced Grants open on 20th May

There is €1.9billion available, which will enable around 1,000 top researchers to pursue ground-breaking research at different stages of their careers. That includes researchers of any nationality based in UK universities.


As part of the Brexit deal struck in December, the UK will be an associated country in Horizon Europe, and the UK's financial contribution allows researchers at our universities to participate in the programme on the same basis as those in EU Member States.

The UK’s status as an associated country is not yet officially confirmed. Whilst it has been agreed in principle, the final steps in the legislative process still need to be completed and could still take some time.  

However, even in this 'pre-association' stage, researchers based in the UK can submit bids for the first ERC calls on a conditional basis even if the association agreements are not yet in place.

The European Commission has confirmed that: 'At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. However, applicants established in countries associated to the previous Framework Programme, Horizon 2020, and in countries that are negotiating association agreements with the European Union, including the United Kingdom, may apply to the calls under this work programme.' 

Russell Group universities are home to many talented researchers working on the great discoveries of the future, and the first ERC calls under Horizon Europe represent a fantastic opportunity to bid for flexible, long-term funding to pursue those ideas. The UK has been given the green light, and it is now time to seize the exciting opportunities on offer.

Read more on the ERC website: ERC kicks off Horizon Europe

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