Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland.
Oriented basic research is research that is carried out with the expectation that it will produce a broad base of knowledge that is likely to form the background to the solution of recognised, or expected, current or future problems or possibilities .
Applied research is an original investigation undertaken to acquire new knowledge and is directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective. The results of applied research are intended primarily to be valid for a single or limited number of products, operations, methods, or systems .
SFI also promotes and supports the study of, education in, and engagement with STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and, in particular, to the growth of the economy.
The definition of STEM employed by SFI does not extend to the Humanities and Social Sciences, except where it may pertain to the specific mission of the Foundation – for example, through the use of targeted instruments, SFI may support the development, assessment and publication of research to assess the impact of funded research activities, STEM teaching, etc.
Details of individual programmes are included in the SFI Annual Plan and please see Additional Guidance for Applicants.
The formal definition of SFI’s legal remit is detailed within the following Acts of Government (2003 and Amendment 2013) and Statutory Instruments (2008 & 2013). The revised legislation provides the flexibility inherent in delegated legislation to enable the strategic areas of opportunity to evolve over time and revised regulation can be made by the Minister to amend the strategic areas. In 2014, Ministerial approval was granted to permit Science Foundation Ireland to enter into strategic partnerships with major international funding bodies and in these situations to permit the funding of areas outside the prescribed strategic areas of opportunity .
 Frascati Manual / OECD (http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/science-and-technology/frascati-manual-2002_9789264199040-en)
 Ministerial Letter to Science Foundation Ireland (2014)