European funding opportunities for Life Sciences researchers

During the last decade, major advancements in Life Sciences research have dramatically changed the therapeutic potential and healthcare solutions available to patients. For academic researchers and research institutes, an expanding number of funding opportunities are available. Especially projects executed in collaboration with industrial scientists have promising grant opportunities. Below Hezelburcht lists a number of funding instruments available for Europe-based Life Sciences researchers. The programmes offer interesting opportunities in 2018 for fundamental and/or applied research (R&D) in a variety of disciplines.

The EU allocated almost 80 billion euros to the seven-year research grant programme, Horizon 2020. The programme runs from 2014 until 2020 and stimulates scientific research throughout the Union. We would like to point out three calls of interest to scientists working in Life Sciences.

Horizon 2020 Health

The sub programme ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’, better known as Horizon 2020 Health, is open for submissions of research projects performed by international consortia consisting of universities, hospitals and/or health industries. The programme aims at better health for all and sustainability of health and care systems. Projects must contribute to the development of new, safer and more effective interventions. Horizon 2020 Health consists of various specific calls with themes as personalised medicine, innovative health and care industry, Infectious diseases and improving global health, digital transformations and cybersecurity in health and care. Within these calls a large variety of topics are presented ranging from ‘Understanding causative mechanisms in co- and multimorbidities’ to ‘Digital health and care services’. Submission deadlines vary per call, the first being in February, 2018.

European Research Council (ERC)

The ERC stimulates investigator-driven frontier research in Europe through competitive funding across all fields on the basis of scientific excellence. Both young and more established scientists are eligible for these bottom-up/individual research programmes. Tailored to the specific stage in their career, researchers can apply for five funding schemes: ERC Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, Synergy grants, Advanced grants and Proof of Concept grants. Deadlines differ for each of the calls and are published at the ERC website.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions

 The Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellowship programme supports researchers at all stages of their careers, irrespective of nationality. The programme is named after the double Nobel Prize winning French-Polish scientist famed for her work on radioactivity,

  • ITN International training Network. This programme funds training networks for three-year PhD student projects (salary and ‘bench fee’) and the related project management. The programme addresses a well-identified interdisciplinary need in scientific research areas, present the researcher to different sectors, and offer a comprehensive set of transferable skills (such as entrepreneurship and communication). A consortium of organisations that fund or manage doctoral programs or fellowship programs for researchers, such as a government ministry, university, research institute or enterprise can apply. The next opportunity to submit proposals will be early January 2019.
  • MSCA COFUND. This programme finances 50% of fellowships and PhD projects in international and interdisciplinary research. The remaining 50% of funding needs to be secured by the beneficiary. Similar to the ITN, the COFUND programme stimulates transnational mobility of researchers throughout Europe. A single organisation that funds or manages doctoral programs or fellowship programs for researchers, such as a government ministry, university, research institute or enterprise can apply. The next opportunity to submit proposals is September 27, 2018.

National research councils

Most European governments coordinate funding of academic research in their respective countries through specialised government agencies, also known as national research councils. Examples in the European Union are The Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), the Spanish Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Within the European Union they collaborate with their European sister organisations to realise, and occasionally cofund, finance instruments at a European level. We would like to point out the Dutch national research council NWO, as they offer interesting funding opportunities for Life Sciences researchers, based in the Netherlands.

NWO supports academic research across scientific disciplines in the Netherlands with a variety of finance instruments. Here we highlight two programmes:

  • The Talent Scheme offers individual grants to talented, creative researchers. This enables them to conduct the research of their choice and enhances their ability to advance at their research institute/university. The Talent Scheme has three funding instruments tailored to various phases in researchers’ scientific careers called VENI, VIDI, VICI. The submission deadlines are for VENI just closed (January 10, 2018), for VIDI not yet open, but likely to be October 2018, for VICI March 27, 2018, 14.00 PM.
  • The Open competition in the NWO Domain Science will be open for submission from August 1st 2018 onwards. Within this funding scheme, there are two domain-wide instruments expected for innovative and curiosity-driven fundamental research. One instrument is designed for small-scale projects and investments. The second instrument focuses on large-scale projects. Due to current changes in the funding instruments and structure of NWO, not all details are available yet (see a second article in this newsletter). Current funding instruments in the open competition close the 1st of May 2018.


Please contact us for more information


Should you have any questions about this specific grant or about grants in general, please do not hesitate to contact us!


Please contact us!



Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.