Young researchers are being offered the chance to control their own five-year budgets of more than €1 million (US$1 million), under a scheme unveiled this week by European research agencies.

The European Young Investigators awards are aimed at enticing the world's best young scientists to stay in Europe, or move there to work. Researchers from any country who have between two and ten years' postdoctoral experience can apply. Those confident of fulfilling the criteria — they must have the “potential to become a world-class leader” in their field — stand to receive €150,000–250,000 a year for five years.

The scheme is the brainchild of the European Heads of Research Councils, a body that unites the funding organizations of 15 countries. Potential applicants must first find a research institution in one of the participating countries to back their proposal. These are then vetted by the host nation's research council, before the European Science Foundation — an umbrella group of European science organizations — picks the 25 winners.

Researchers from the physical, medical, biological and social sciences are invited to apply by 15 December, and the winners will be announced next September.