The EU-LIFE ERC Masterclass is organised annually by members of the Grants & Funding Strategies Working Group (Grants WG) with the goal to support ERC starting and consolidator applicants from EU-LIFE research institutes.

It includes a panel discussion and a project pitch session with leading scientists from EU-LIFE with experience in the ERC. The workshop also has training sessions on topics such as general structure of an application, evaluation process, budget, and CV, conducted by experts from the Grants WG.


Value to EU-LIFE member institutes

“Obtaining an ERC grant is also extremely competitive, and we see unfortunately many excellent projects that do not get funded. Therefore, it is extremely crucial to support researchers when applying for ERC Grants, learning from the expertise of grant officers, previous grantees and panel members from their institutes,” says Cristina Bartocci PhD, Scientific writer, Institut Curie.

“We see an important added value of organising this at a EU-LIFE Masterclass level! It allows us to pool the knowledge and experience of ERC grant officers, panel members and grantees from across all EU-LIFE centres,” says Lieve Ongena PhD, Sr Science Policy & International Grants Manager, VIB.


Success story

Leila Akkari, Group Leader at The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), received a ERC Synergy Grant in 2023, together with researchers at the Universities of Amsterdam and Leiden. She attended the EU-LIFE ERC Masterclass 2021, where she was provided with essential tools to develop her application:

“The training was extremely useful to provide both general overviews of the requirements of an ERC proposal, and give specific examples of how to construct innovative projects that will stand out in the many proposals submitted, by giving clear examples of dos and don’ts that can make a project stand out and be appreciated as creative.

The key aspect of this training was the interactive nature of it, where we were encouraged to participate and especially, it provided a very useful platform to discuss proposal ideas and how to present them with members of the ERC panels and grantees that reflected back with us on their successful applications and shared their feedback on our own projects to perfect it.

We also got the chance to hear from ERC panel chairs on the process of selection, and the ERC council member on the overarching goal of the organization. Such internal insights and guidance were instrumental in responding to both our very practical questions on how to prepare our proposal, but also to appreciate the larger purpose of the organization and shape our ideas in its fundamental core according to it, to enrich science with the best ideas and best people,” said Leila.



“The most useful parts were the discussion with panellists and the pitch in front of panellists and awardees. I really enjoyed and learned a lot during these two sessions.”

“The organizers were very well prepared to teach us the material. Also, the grantees and panellists were very informative.”

“For me pitch session was useful for two reasons - I got actionable and very constructive feedback but also I got a confidence boost, which is really helpful to continue developing the ideas for the grant.”