10 March - 13 April 2021
Starting grant within natural and engineering sciences
The aim of the grant is to give junior researchers the opportunity to establish themselves as independent researchers in Sweden.
Support form: Career support
Subject area: Natural and Engineering Sciences
Applicant: Individual researcher who completed a doctoral degree more than 2 years ago and up to 7 years ago.
Participating researchers: No researchers may be invited to join the application.
Grant period: 4 years
Grant amount: Minimum 400 000 SEK per year, maximum 1 500 000 SEK per year
Start of grant period: January 2022
Application period: 10 March 2021 (14.00/2 pm) – 13 April 2021 (14.00/2 pm)
Publication of grant award: No later than the beginning of November 2021
- As from 2020, you must explain in your research plan how your stated activity level (which must be minimum 50 per cent of a full-time equivalent) is suited to the implementation of the research project.
- You must describe whether sex and gender perspectives are relevant for your research and, if so, in which way you will use such perspectives, or why you choose not to do so. How sex and gender perspectives are managed in the research project will form part of the assessment of scientific quality. Read more under the heading “Research description” and on our website.
- You will need to have a data management plan for data generated within the research we award funds for. You must not send the plan to us, but according to our general grant terms and conditions, your administrating organisation must confirm that a data management plan will be in place when you start your project or equivalent, and also that the plan will be maintained.
Specific instructions for the call
In addition to reading the call text, you also need to consult our Guide for applicants.
The following requirements must be fulfilled in order for you to be eligible to apply for the grant. We carry out checks and reject applications that do not fulfil the requirements.
The applicant for a starting grant must be an individual researcher. You shall be the project leader and have scientific responsibility for the project. The time you set aside for the project (your activity level) must be suited to the task and its implementation, and must equal at least 50 per cent of a full-time equivalent throughout the grant period.
You must hold a Swedish doctoral degree or an equivalent foreign degree, awarded more than 2 years and no more than 7 years before the deadline for this call.
Grants from the Swedish Research Council shall be administered by a Swedish higher education institution (HEI) or another Swedish organisation that fulfils our criteria for administrating organisations. Your organisation must therefore be approved as an administrating organisation for you to apply. The administrating organisation must sign your application in Prisma no later than 7 calendar days after the deadline for this call.
If you are awarded a grant, you must be employed by the administrating organisation at the start of and throughout the grant period and any additional availability period, unless the Swedish Research Council approves an exception from this requirement. The employment must equal at least 50 per cent of a full-time equivalent. You do not have to be employed by the administrating organisation at the time of applying.
To apply for a starting grant, your doctoral degree must have been awarded more than 2 years ago and no more than 7 years ago at the deadline for the call, that is to say awarded no later than 13 April 2019 and no earlier than 13 April 2014. We base the career age on the date you fulfilled all the requirements for a doctoral degree, such as mandatory courses, oral defence and an approved doctoral thesis. For applicants with Swedish doctoral degrees, the award date listed in Ladok applies. You will not be able to complete your application if your doctoral degree was awarded less than 2 years ago or more than 7 years ago. An exception applies if there are longer periods of ‘deductible time’ after your doctoral degree award that have affected your ability to gain merit as a researcher.
The Swedish Research Council’s recognised grounds of deductible time are parental leave, positions of trust in trade union organisations and student organisations, mandatory service in the total defence forces, long-term illness (own reported illness or care of child/close family member), general medical internship (maximum 24 months) or further training/specialist medical internship for clinically active professionals (maximum 24 months). Please note that we do not accept other employment, unemployment or holidays as deductible time.
If you wish to claim deductible time, you must specify the recognised grounds and time involved in your application (please see instructions under “Descriptive information” below).
We conduct sample checks. This means that we might request a certificate in evidence of your grounds for deductible time.
Number of applications and previous grants
General information about overlaps between applications and grants
Your application must not cover costs for purposes that are already funded by the Swedish Research Council or any other funding body. Overlaps with other grants or applications may impact on the grant amount you are awarded, or be a reason for us to reject your application.
What grants may I apply for simultaneously from the Swedish Research Council?
You may only submit one application for this grant under this call. The table below shows information and restrictions on the grants you may apply for during the same year. Please note that you may not simultaneously apply for the Swedish Research Council’s undirected project grants.
Please also note that if you are awarded a starting grant, you will not be able to apply for the Swedish Research Council’s undirected project grants during the grant period.
What requirements apply if I already have a grant from the Swedish Research Council?
There are certain restrictions if you are the project leader of an ongoing grant, that is to say where the grant period (payment period from the Swedish Research Council) overlaps the grant period of the grant the application relates to. Please note that the availability period, that is to say the time during which you have the right to use your grant, is normally longer than the grant period. You can find information about the requirements for your ongoing grant in the “Approval of terms and conditions” you received from the Swedish Research Council.
The table below shows information and restrictions on the grants you may apply for if you already have an ongoing grant.
Please note that you cannot apply for a starting grant if you at any time previously have been awarded and been the project leader for a project grant for junior researchers from the Swedish Research Council.
Note: If you have been the project leader for previous grants from the Swedish Research Council that have ended, final financial reports for all of these must have been submitted within the permitted time frame in order for you to apply for a new grant. Please contact your administrating organisation if you are unsure whether all your final reports have been submitted.
What applies for applications to or grants from other funding bodies?
If your application to the Swedish Research Council relates to the same project concept as a grant you have already been awarded by, or are applying for to another funding body, please describe this.
You may not invite any participating researchers in this application. Any collaborators and their roles shall be described in the research plan (please see instructions under “Research plan” below).
Costs and grant amounts
You can apply for a grant for all types of project-related costs, such as
- salaries (including your own salary), however no more than corresponding to the person’s activity level in the project
- running costs (such as consumables, travel including stays at research facilities, publication costs and minor equipment)
- depreciation costs.
Grants must not be used for scholarships. If a doctoral student participates, project funds may not be paid out as salary during teaching or other departmental duties.
The minimum amount you may apply for is 400 000 SEK per year, including indirect costs. The maximum amount you may apply for is 1 500 000 SEK per year. The average amount awarded for starting grants within natural and engineering sciences is normally approximately 850 000 SEK per year.
The grant period is 4 years, starting in January 2022. The first payment will be made in January 2022 at the earliest.
Please refer to the application form in Prisma in parallel with reading the instructions below, which describe the call-specific content of the application. More information on what to do in practical terms is available in our Guide for applicants.
Foreign experts are involved in the scientific assessment of the applications. To ensure fair and equitable assessment and efficient processing, please therefore complete your application in English.
Sections of the application
The application form includes the following tabs:
- Descriptive information
- Research description
- Budget and research resources
- Letter of support
- Administrating organisation
- Review panels
- Participants (only administrators in this call)
The information we request under each tab is described below.
In the abstract, please describe in brief the following:
- What is to be done: purpose and aims
- How the research will be carried out: project organisation, time plan and scientific methods
- What is important about the planned research.
The abstract shall provide a summary picture of the purpose and implementation of the research. Please use wording to ensure persons with another subject specialisation can understand the information.
The description may cover a maximum of 1 500 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately one third of an A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
Popular science description
Describe the project in such a way that a person who is not familiar with the subject can understand it. Describe what is to be done, and why. Explain also in what way the new knowledge may be important.
The popular science description is an important tool when we inform about the research funded by the Swedish Research Council. If we grant your application, we reserve the right to use the description for information purposes.
The description may cover a maximum of 4 000 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately one A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
Note: The popular science description must be written in Swedish, unlike the rest of the application.
Please state any longer interruptions in your active research time after your doctoral degree caused by any of the grounds recognised by the Swedish Research Council. Please state the interruption calculated as a full-time equivalent and rounded up into full calendar months. Please see the recognised grounds for deductible time under the heading “Career age” above.
Describe the ethical issues raised by your project or corresponding. You must also describe how you plan to address ethical dilemmas that may arise. Please justify why the research should be carried out against the background of the ethical issues you have identified. How do your research questions and expected results measure up in relation to the ethical issues? Please also state whether the research involves any handling of personal data, or experiments on animals or human subjects. If no ethical issues are raised, please justify this.
The justification may cover a maximum of 4 000 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately one A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
Sex and gender perspectives
Please state whether sex and gender perspectives are applicable in your planned research, and justify your decision. Please note that we are not asking for information about the composition of the research team (women/men) or descriptions of the distribution of women/men in your research area. Read more about sex and gender perspectives in research content.
The following applies:
- If you answer “Yes”: Please justify your answer, and describe also how your take account of sex and gender perspectives in the research plan. If you have stated that sex and gender perspectives are applicable, but still choose not to include them in your research plan, you will need to justify this here.
- If you answer “No”: Please justify your answer.
The justification may cover a maximum of 4 000 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately one A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
The research plan shall be forward-looking and consist of a brief but complete description of the research task. It shall cover a maximum of 10 page-numbered A4 pages in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing and 2.5 cm margins, including references and any images.
The research plan must include the following headings and information, listed in the following order:
- Purpose and aims: State the overall purpose and specific aims of the research project.
- State-of-the-art: Summarise briefly the current research frontier within the field or area covered by the project. State key references.
- Significance and scientific novelty: Describe briefly how the project relates to previous research within the area, and the impact the project may have in the short and long term. Describe also how the project moves forward or innovates the current research frontier.
- Preliminary and previous results: Describe briefly your own previous research and pilot studies within the research area that make it probable that the project will be feasible. If no preliminary results exist, please state this. State also whether the project contributes further to research and scientific results from a grant awarded previously by the Swedish Research Council.
- Project description: Describe the project design under the following headings:
- Theory and method: Describe the underlying theory and the methods to be applied in order to reach the project goal.
- Time plan and implementation: Describe summarily the time plan for the project during the grant period, and how the project will be implemented.
- Project organisation: Clarify the contributions of yourself and any other researchers and/or key persons to the implementation of the project, including a description of competences and roles in the project. Explain in particular how the time allocated by you (that is, your activity level) as project leader is suitable for the task, including the relationship with your other research undertakings.
- Independent line of research: If you are working or will be working in a larger group, please clarify how your project relates to the other projects in the group. If you are continuing a project that was wholly or partly started during your doctoral or postdoc studies, you must also describe the relationship between your project and the research of your former supervisor.
Provide the following information also. If a heading is not relevant to your application, please state this under the heading.
- Equipment: Describe the basic equipment you and your team have at your disposal for the project.
- Need for research infrastructure: Specify the project’s need for international and national research infrastructure. In the first instance, you should use the research infrastructures supported by the Swedish Research Council, which are open to all. If you choose to use other infrastructure instead, please justify this need (also applies for local research infrastructure).
- International and national collaboration: Describe your collaboration with foreign and Swedish researchers and research teams. State whether you contribute to or refer to international collaboration in your research.
- Other applications or grants: If you are applying for or intend to apply for other grants from the Swedish Research Council, please clarify the relationship between the projects. This applies also if you are receiving ongoing grants from the Swedish Research Council with grant periods that wholly or partly overlap with the grant you are now applying for. You should also justify why you are submitting one or several further applications. Describe also the relationship with other applications to or grants from other funding bodies for the same project concept (from you or another researcher).
Budget and research resources
State the activity level (per cent of a full-time equivalent) of all personnel active within the project, that is to say yourself, any other researchers and other personnel. Please also state the salary you are applying for, for yourself and/or other personnel active within the project, both as a percentage of a full-time salary and as actual annual amounts (including social security contributions). Please state the amounts in Swedish krona, rounded to the nearest 1 000 SEK.
Describe any other costs of the project (premises costs, running costs and depreciation costs). Please state the amounts in Swedish krona, rounded to the nearest 1 000 SEK.
You may include depreciation costs for equipment to be used in the project, provided that:
- the equipment has an economic life of at least three years
- the equipment has an acquisition value above a certain amount
- the need cannot be satisfied through use of national or international infrastructure supported by the Swedish Research Council and thereby open to all.
You may only include the proportion of depreciation costs that corresponds to the use of the equipment in the proposed project, and you may not include depreciation costs for equipment that is wholly funded by other grants. Please contact your administrating organisation for information about what is included in local research infrastructure, acquisition values or how to calculate depreciation costs.
Total cost of the project
Prisma will automatically add up your budget items in a table. The total amount you are applying for shall also include indirect costs. You will have to add these to the table yourself. Here you can also add any additional costs that the project entails (for which you are not seeking funding under this call).
Please contact your administrating organisation if you have any questions abut what constitutes indirect and direct costs.
Justification of the budget applied for
Justify briefly each cost applied for in your budget. The description may cover a maximum of 4 000 characters including blank spaces. This is approximately one A4 page in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing.
Please state your or any other researcher’s funding for the project over and above what is applied for in this application. Please state the amounts in Swedish krona, rounded to the nearest 1 000 SEK.
Please attach your publication list drawn up according to the headings and information below. The list shall cover a maximum of 5 page-numbered A4 pages in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing and 2.5 cm margins.
Please sort the publications under each heading in reverse chronological order, so that the latest publication is at the top of the list. Please only include articles or equivalent that are published or accepted for publication at the time of applying. The author name order shall be identical to that of the published work. The application cannot be supplemented with publications after the deadline for the call.
1. Selection of publications: List the 10 publications of greatest importance to your application. Describe how you contributed to each publication, and its relevance to your research project (maximum 4 lines per publication). Highlight your name in bold in the author list. Write “Part of PhD thesis” in bold in brackets for the publications included in your doctoral thesis.
2. Relevant publications from 2013–2021: In this part, the publications listed under Item 1 shall also be included if they have been published during the period in question. Sort the publications, with your name highlighted in bold in the author list, under each heading (publication type) in the following order: State “Part of PhD thesis” in bold in brackets for the publications included in your doctoral thesis.
- Peer-reviewed original articles
- Peer-reviewed conference contributions, the results of which are not included in other publications
- Peer-reviewed edited volumes
- Research review articles
- Peer-reviewed books and book chapters
- Other publications including popular science books/presentations
Letter of support
The formal letter of support from your administrating organisation shall be signed by the head of the home department or equivalent where you will be doing your research. Your (the applicant’s) name shall be stated clearly, as well as the name and function/position of the person writing the letter of support.
Please note that the letter of support forms an important part of the assessment of your application.
The document may cover no more than 2 A4 pages. The letter of support shall be written in English, and shall include the following headings and information. No further information shall be included. You can download a template for the letter of support here (word, 38.5 kB).
- the applicant’s research programme and how this fits into the research environment (research already in progress at the department)
- the applicant’s scientific independence
- how the applicant can contribute to the department’s activities based on their scientific and teaching competence.
Commitment of the hosting department
Information on/Description of:
- the applicant’s employment format and funding of the employment throughout the grant period
- how the department will fulfil the applicant’s need for premises, equipment and other infrastructure
- the HEI’s/department’s career plan for the applicant during and after the grant period. The plan shall include goals and activities for how the applicant can continue acquiring scientific merit, and develop their leadership and their teaching competence.
By signing the application in Prisma, the administrating organisation confirms these undertakings.
Please state the administrating organisation and project site.
Please request the review panel or panels (in priority order) that you wish to carry out the scientific assessment of your application. The final allocation of applications is determined by the Swedish Research Council.
Here you as applicant may invite participating administrators to your application.
Under this tab, please upload your relevant CV information from your personal account in Prisma.
The following information (where available) must always be included in each CV:
- Education: First, second and third cycle higher education and specialist degrees.
- Work: Current employment (including employment form) and longer relevant employment held, postdoctoral visits (also included as employment if relevant), research exchanges relevant to the research described and any longer interruptions in the research that have impacted on your opportunity to gain merit as a researcher.
- Merits and awards: Docentship/associate professorship, supervisees (postdoctoral and doctoral students; state the number of persons in each category and list the names of the up to 10 most relevant to you), up to 10 of your most relevant grants awarded in competition, up to 10 of your most relevant prizes and awards, and up to 20 other merits relevant to the application, such as lecture invitations, leadership positions, positions of trust, membership of scientific organisations and similar.
- Intellectual property rights: For example, patents and open access computer programs developed by you; state up to 10 of your most relevant.
Scientific quality is the fundamental criterion when the Swedish Research Council allocates grants to research. Your application is evaluated in competition with the other applications on the basis of the following evaluation criteria.
Your application within Starting grants within natural and engineering sciences is evaluated by one of 19 specialised subject review panel where the members are Swedish and international researchers. For each panel there is a brief description of the panel and a list of the main focus areas covered. These focus areas are neither an attempt at a complete scientific classification, nor a reflection of research priorities.
As always, some applications will naturally fall on the boundaries between panels, and some research areas are relevant to, and may even be mentioned explicitly by, more than one panel. Examples of such areas are Bioinformatics, Biophysics, Biomechanics, Machine learning, and Data Science. In these and other cases, you are advised to apply for the panel which best reflects the application's main scientific contribution.
At least three members review and grade your application individually. The entire review panel then meets at a review panel meeting to discuss and prioritise the applications, and finally to make a proposal for a decision to the Scientific Council for Natural and Engineering Sciences.
In order to enable more in-depth discussions of applications of higher quality that have a reasonable chance of being funded, the applications that received the lowest grades from the panel members during their individual review are not discussed in detail at the review panel meeting. Following the grant decision, all applications receive a final statement stating that includes the review panels’ grading of the application. The applications that have been discussed in more detail at the panel meeting receive an individual final statement which, in addition to the grades, also contains a summary of the review panel’s discussion and overall assessment of the scientific quality of the application.
Evaluation criteria and guiding questions
The evaluation of the scientific quality of your application is made based on four basic criteria (Scientific quality of the proposed research, Novelty and originality, Merits of the applicant, Feasibility). The purpose of using several components is to achieve a multi-faceted evaluation. The criteria are assessed on a seven-grade scale, except for feasibility, which is assessed on a three-grade grade scale.
For each criterion, there are guiding questions to support the panel members’ evaluation of your application. These can also function as guidance for you when you write your application.
Scientific quality of the proposed research (1–7)
- Are the scientific questions addressed important in the context of existing scientific knowledge and ongoing research worldwide?
- Does the proposal outline a research approach that is likely to deliver answers to the questions being addressed?
- When applicable, is the proposed development of methods or techniques of high scientific significance? Does this proposed development allow new scientific questions to be addressed?
- When applicable, how are issues relating to sex and gender perspectives justified and handled in the research plan?
- Does the applicant show the ability to formulate a scientific question that is clearly independent of the research the applicant has performed as a doctoral student and postdoc?
Novelty and originality (1–7)
- To what extent does the proposed project define new, interesting scientific questions?
- To what extent does the proposed project use new ways and methods to address important scientific questions?
- When applicable, does the proposed project show a clear progression in relation to the previous research of the applicant?
Merits of the applicant (1–7)
The assessment should concern whether the merits of the applicant enable them to perform the proposed project. Participating researchers are not allowed in starting grant applications.
- How significant is the applicant’s scientific productivity, impact and other merits in a national and international perspective, in relation to the research area, and the applicant’s career age? Here the emphasis should be on recent scientific achievements.
- What is the applicant’s scientific competence within the research area of the application?
- Has the applicant shown the ability to work independently?
- Has the applicant shown the ability to work in new (international) research environments, for instance during postdoctoral work?
A high risk-high gain project is not considered to have a lower feasibility. It is the criteria below that should be evaluated.
- Are the available equipment, infrastructure and other resources adequate for the proposed project?
- Considering the project as a whole, does the applicant or project group have sufficient competence to perform the proposed research?
- Does the description in the research plan support the likelihood that the proposed project will be performed successfully?
- Is the scope of the project reasonable in relation to the amount applied for?
- Does the host institution’s support letter show that there is need for the applicant’s competence and an explicit interest in the suggested research direction in a broader sense? Does the host institution’s support letter show that the research environment is the right one for the applicant and for carrying out the research project? Is there a long-term plan for the applicant and the applicant’s field of research at the host institution?
Overall grade (1–7)
The various sub-criteria are used to provide an overall grade reflecting the collected evaluations of the review panel. The overall grade is formed without a pre-determined numerical weighing of the basic criteria. As a guidance for the review panel’s assessment, the scientific quality of the proposed research and the merits of the applicant are the two most important criteria whilst novelty and originality should be given lower weight. The feasibility shall be weighed into the overall rating of the application if it deviates from the grade “Feasible”.