VIDI or ERC Starting? Or both?

Many mid-career researchers question whether they should apply for a VIDI or an ERC Starting grant. There are some differences to consider. And, when you decide to go for both, you should be a planning rockstar.

Choosing at a crossroad | VIDI or ERC Starting

The most important difference between VIDI and ERC Starting grants is of course your competition. Are you an excellent researcher with innovative ideas compared to your peers in The Netherlands? You can go for a VIDI grant. Are you also an outstanding researcher when compared to your international peers? Then you can add an ERC grant to your options!

Differences between VIDI and ERC Starting

Both Vernieuwingsimpuls and ERC stimulate innovative research proposals from excellent researchers. However, there are subtle differences which you should take into account. For example, both grants have a slightly different take on what ‘innovative’ means. While the ERC programme funds science for science and doesn’t require lengthy descriptions of societal impact, the Vernieuwingsimpuls format does include knowledge utilization as well. This means you need to define the potential for use of the knowledge gained during the project, as well as a plan to actually communicate the project and its results to relevant stakeholders and society in general.

The balance between high risk and high gain is also evaluated in a slightly different manner. ERC evaluators in general tolerate a bit more risk, as long as the potential gain is convincingly presented. Having said this, many evaluators like an elaborate risk and mitigation plan in which you show that you understand the main risks of your project and you have a plan B in case an essential part of the planned science simply fails to work.

Writing both proposals at the same time

If you want to write a VIDI and an ERC Starting grant in parallel, careful planning is essential. In some years, deadlines are even in the same month, which means there is a realistic chance that you will end up with two suboptimal proposals instead of one being excellent. Start writing early and choose one proposal that you will focus on first. Doing it this way allows you to make a realistic evaluation a couple of months before the deadline whether writing the additional proposal is still feasible. Running into trouble and in need for help? Contact us for a free session to see how we can help.

Second, it’s wise to take into account the option that both your VIDI and your ERC Starting proposal are funded. Of course it would be very sad to have to decline one of the grants because you are not allowed to have the same work funded twice. You can circumvent this by making both proposals ┬ácomplementary, but also actionable as standalone projects. It would be a real boost for your career if you get to recruit PhD students and postdocs for both competitive grants at the same time!

How Fundament can support you

Fundament offers tailored support for individual VIDI and ERC Starting proposals and resubmissions. We can also help you recycle Vernieuwingsimpuls ideas into ERC proposals and vice versa. Finally, we offer review services for both. We look forward to hearing from you!

Author: Linde van Ittersum

Co-founder and Research Funding Professional at Fundament.

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