We helped develop an ambitious application to fund the biophysical and social determinants of Earth’s long-term stability – the application was awarded a prestigious ERC Advanced Grant.

Our brief

To support the development of an ambitious application for an ERC Advanced Grant.


Prof. Johan Rockström, then Director of the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC), now Director at the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research (PIK).

What we did

Framing of research programme; editorial feedback and guidance; substantive editing.


The application “Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene” was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant of 2.5 MEUR.

Johan and his team contacted us with a request to help with an application for ERC funding of an ambitious research programme that aimed to explore the biophysical and social determinants of Earth’s long-term stability, with an emphasis on non-linearity and abrupt changes. The research project was conceived of with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement in mind.

During discussions it became clear that the scale and ambition of the planned research programme needed work to identify a scope and focus that would be amenable for an ERC grant. We therefore worked extensively with Johan and his team to frame the proposal before guiding them through the writing process and strengthening the narrative ourselves through substantive editing.

In this multi-stage support we therefore:

  • discussed initially how to frame the research programme and grant proposal
  • guided the writing, including by developing an outline for the proposal
  • provided extensive feedback on multiple drafts of the application
  • performed substantive editing to ensure that the proposal was clear, complete and coherent, and that the novelty, feasibility, and significance and impact of the proposed research was clear

The application was successful and 2.5 million EUR were awarded for “Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene” under the prestigious ERC Advanced Grant scheme. It was one out of only 10 awarded ERC Advanced Grants in Sweden in that year.

How the project was received

“Elevate helped us in preparing a major funding proposal for a five-year, policy-oriented sustainability science research program. Research in this area is very multidisciplinary, so funding applications are always a complicated mix of methods, concepts, techniques and discourses. Elevate helped us to decide on our focal messages, structure the proposal to support that clear focus, and helped immensely with sharpening the text itself, getting rid of jargon and keeping the narrative flow. The proposal was funded (€2.5M), with very positive review comments. We are now recruiting a new team of researchers to work on global sustainability issues, with high-profile international collaborations.
I would certainly recommend the Elevate team – they have such a strategic perspective on the whole scientific process, with experience and insight that goes well beyond ‘just' science communication. They provided very specific and positive edits and suggestions, rather than just highlighting problems that needed fixing. They helped us see our documents with fresh eyes, a vital process in making the whole proposal a vibrant research plan.”

J. Rockström, Professor, Director, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research