Horizon 2020 ERA Chair programme

Call: WIDESPREAD-04-2019: ERA Chairs

Specific challenge

With adequate institutional support outstanding researchers can have a decisive and positive impact on the culture and performance of research institutions. Yet issues such as the availability of research funding, institutional rigidities and access to resources can hamper their mobility to promising institutions, particularly in low R&I performing countries. ERA Chairs actions will address the specific challenge of creating the appropriate conditions for high quality researchers and research managers to move and engage with institutions willing to achieve excellence in the scientific domain of choice and modify their research and innovation landscape.


The ERA Chairs actions will support universities or research organisations with the objective of attracting and maintaining high quality human resources under the direction of an outstanding researcher and research manager (the "ERA Chair holder") and in parallel implement structural changes to achieve excellence on a sustainable basis.

The scientific field can be any domain of research and innovation addressed under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, however it needs to be closely connected with the activities of the ERA Chair holder and fully capitalise on his/her presence and expertise.

Research organisations interested in establishing an ERA Chair shall submit a proposal based on a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis, aimed at structural change in the institution and ensuring that the conditions are in place to foster excellent research. Proposals should include arrangements for compliance with ERA priorities including the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the recruitment of researchers, description of the necessary investments in research projects, facilities and infrastructures and how those will be achieved as, for example, through the use of Cohesion Policy funds, and/or a better use of the installed research capacity (in particular of EU co-funded research infrastructures and facilities). Proposals should outline how the proposed activities will positively induce a change in current practices.

ERA Chair holders should be excellent researchers and research managers in the given field of research, with a proven record of effective leadership. They should establish their own research team fully integrated in the coordinator's institution to significantly improve its research performance in the scientific domain of choice and to be more successful in obtaining competitive funding. The ERA Chair holder should have a position within the organisation/university, professor or similar, that will allow him/her to make appropriate resource allocation decisions, supervise team members and freely apply for research funding. A letter of the head of the institution clearly describing the intended remuneration package of the ERA Chair holder and the criteria on which the level of remuneration has been established, as well as his/her roles, level of responsibility and obligations should be included in the proposal. This will allow for the determination of the commitment of the institution and feasibility of the ERA Chair tasks.

The position of the ERA Chair holder must be open to all EU and non-EU nationals but shall match the profile of an "Established Researcher (R3)" or "Leading Researcher (R4)" as set out in the European Framework for Research Careers. Moreover, given the objectives of the action, internal mobility within the institution hosting the grant is excluded except in exceptional and duly justified cases. The appointment of an ERA Chair holder will be undertaken by the host institution at the beginning of the action and must follow an open, transparent and merit-based recruitment process that will be monitored by the European Commission.

It is expected that the Chair holder commits him/herself for the full duration of the grant. The ERA Chair holder is to be appointed in a full-time position (permanent or non-permanent) in accordance with the national legislation of the institution hosting the grant.

The grant that can have a duration of five years maximum will cover the appointment of the ERA Chair holder and a number of team members (e.g. their salaries, recruitment costs, administrative costs, travel and subsistence costs).

The grant will also provide a contribution towards measures aimed at facilitating structural changes in the institution (e.g. costs for trainings, meetings, publications and managing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). While the action does not focus on equipment and consumables, these could be accepted if they constitute only a minor part of the total Horizon 2020 funding requested and are deemed necessary to fulfil the action's specific scope and objective). For grants awarded under this topic and type of action, the following cost categories will be ineligible costs: Infrastructure costs. The respective option of Article 6.5.C of the Model Grant Agreement will be applied.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 2.5 million, would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting lower amounts.

Expected impact:

  • Institutional changes within the ERA Chair host institution allowing for its full participation in the European Research Area.
  • Increased attractiveness of the institution for internationally excellent and mobile researchers (including a policy of compliance to the European Research Area priorities like an open recruitment policy, gender balance, peer review and innovative doctoral training).
  • Increased research excellence of the institution in the specific fields covered by the ERA Chair holders illustrated quantitatively and qualitatively through indicators such as expected future publications in peer reviewed journals, collaboration agreements with businesses, intellectual property, new innovative products or services.
  • Improved capability to compete successfully for internationally competitive research funding.

ERA Chair programme was implemented in several calls:


Page updated: 28.10.2021.