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Time is always of the essence when it comes to grant writing and meeting deadlines, but this year’s ERC 2021 Starting and Consolidator Grants have their own unique constraints. In years past, it was mostly the Consolidator Grant deadline that required extra timely considerations. But, this year both Starting and Consolidator deadlines are calling for even stricter time management and early preparations. Read on and take three important points into consideration.


The proximity of the ERC 2021 Starting & Consolidator Grant deadlines

Tentative dates released by the EC point an alarming finger at the near proximity of the ERC 2021 Starting and Consolidator grant deadlines. Currently, the Starting Grant’s tentative deadline is set to March 9th 2021; and the Consolidator Grant’s tentative deadline is set to April 20th 2021. With less than a month and a half between the two deadlines – the “support bottleneck” issue is one to truly take into consideration.


The support bottleneck

Most supporting personnel – research managers and administrators, financial officers, language editors and consultants – deal with numerous applications in each deadline. As the deadline approaches, time runs short while more and more applicants become aware of their need for support. This generates the support bottleneck.


Whether the support needed is technical or conceptual, the supporting personnel strive to provide high-quality support to all applicants. However, once deadline approaches and the bottleneck is in full effect, the pressure accumulates. Time and again we have seen how this issue negatively affects their availability and attention. This year, with two deadlines one directly after the other, we can assume with great confidence that the bottleneck will be even more jammed. 


The supporting personnel are there to help. It is in the best interest of every applicant to fully and efficiently benefit from their skills. Therefore, we strongly recommend to approach them as early as possible in order to receive the highest quality support and to avoid being left out of their consideration due to such high demand. This means beginning the proposal preparation process with a good amount of time to spare.


ERC deadlines and COVID-19 restrictions

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken most things off of their natural course – the European research community included. These are certainly changing and uncertain times. As countries go in and out of lockdown and varying restrictions, we are witnessing the EU research community making different adjustments and changes. For example, the most recent ERC CoG 2020 interviews were completely transferred online for the first time ever, while the ERC StG 2020 interviews were cancelled. Given such uncertain times, we truly advise for careful planning of the proposal, and to leave a lot of time and room to spare for any changes you could not see ahead of time.


The ERC 2021 Starting and Consolidator Grants and the Holiday season

In addition to the proximity of the Starting and Consolidator grant deadlines, there is another timeline issue to take into consideration. As already mentioned, the ERC Starting and Consolidator 2021 tentative deadlines are set for March and April, respectively. In order to meet the high standards of ERC, proposal preparation typically requires at least 2-3 months of conceptualizing and writing. With this in mind, the closeness of both the StG and CoG deadlines to the December holiday season (given the existing proximity of the deadlines to each other) warrants additional careful planning of the proposal preparation process of this highly competitive grant.


 From experience, we know that most institutions and offices are closed during the holiday season. If any assistance or resources are needed from external bodies for the proposal preparation, it will be limited to before and soon after the holiday season, when the offices are back at work. This can potentially lead to stressful and last-minute work. Again, starting early with great room to spare is your best approach to meeting the ERC deadline with a highly competitive proposal that meets both written and “unwritten” rules for ERC success.



There you have it. Remembering the issue with the support bottleneck and holiday time constraints can be a huge advantage as you proceed with your ERC StG/CoG preparation process. Bottom line is: Preparing early is always recommended in ERC. If you are a potential StG/CoG 2021 applicant, mark your calendar for November 2020 to begin the process.


To get started on your ERC journey – check out our selection of online ERC courses. These are pre-recorded for you to watch at your own pace and time. Soon after, consider our individual proposal preparation services

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