Learning from national leaders - Policy recommendations developed by the Young Academy of Sweden

The ERC funding scheme is Europe’s flagship programme for cutting-edge curiosity-driven frontier research. Within the ERC programme, Sweden performs notably lower than comparable countries. In response to this situation the Young Academy of Sweden has conducted an investigation to identify mechanisms for increasing the number of successful applications for ERC grants in Sweden in a sustainable way, with a special focus on early career researchers.


Illustration: ©Fräulein Design AB

Download the full report (English)

Ladda hem rapporten (Swedish)

Executive summary

The European Research Council (ERC) is the main European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Participation in the competitions and acquisition of ERC funding is a vital part of Swedish national research strategy. However, participation and success rates in securing ERC funding could be higher given the country’s strong research tradition. In this report, the Young Academy of Sweden proposes policy recommendations aimed at strengthening Sweden’s participation and success in the ERC funding programme. Our recommendations are aimed at three different types of actors: (1) the government, (2) Swedish funding agencies, and (3) universities. The recommendations are based on a series of interviews with early career research leaders in Sweden and in countries comparable to Sweden with successful track records in ERC grant competitions, as well as on a review of national policies supporting ERC applications from these countries. In order to meet the objectives of the Swedish national research strategy, high-quality research is absolutely decisive, and our recommendations focus on ERC-related research policies and practices, as well as other conditions that are necessary for the national research system to stay internationally competitive. In addition to the recommendations, all findings from the interviews and the policy analyses are summarised as enablers of ERC grant competition success in other countries.

The four key enablers for developing winning proposals and hosting ERC projects are:

  1. dedicated support for developing ERC proposals
  2. good conditions for hosting ERC projects
  3. access to undirected funding to develop research
  4. strong research culture with rich international networks

Project working group

Academy members Frida Bender, Hanne Fjelde, Alison Gerber, Jessica Jewell, Mia Liinason, Ewa Machotka, Janina Seubert, and Helena Rosik at the Young Academy of Sweden’s secretariat.

Report authors

Ewa Machotka, Jessica Jewell, Mia Liinason, and Helena Rosik.

Project leader

Ewa Machotka

Bibliographic information

ISBN: 978-91-527-6748-1
Graphic design: ©Fräulein Design AB
Translation: Peter Wennersten/HIBOU

Please cite this publication: The Young Academy of Sweden. 2023. Best practices for supporting success in ERC grant competitions: Learning from national leaders. Report. Stockholm: The Young Academy of Sweden.


Studioportätt Jessica Jewell

Jessica Jewell

Engineering sciences
Social sciences
Chalmers University of Technology
Associate professor in energy transformation at Chalmers University of Technology
Utomhusporträtt av Ewa Machotka

Ewa Machotka

Stockholm University
Former member
Chair of East Asian Art History at the University of Zurich


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