Under the US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme, the National Science Foundation (US) together with Science Foundation Ireland (RoI) and the Department for the Economy (NI) have expanded the existing opportunities for individual investigator-driven collaborations to include Research Centre-based collaborations between the United States, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Centre-to-Centre mechanism is currently open to existing SFI-funded Research Centres, NSF-funded Engineering Research Centres and researchers in Centres in Northern Ireland.
The NSF-Ireland R&D Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been updated to include reference to Centre-to-Centre collaborations, and funding decisions will be based on a combination of the standard NSF Review Criteria and additional Centre-specific criteria in support of the vision, strategic plan, and ongoing activities within each Centre. Criteria to be used in eliciting reviewer feedback on the proposed research programme have been developed. In line with the SFI Partnerships programme, funding for the RoI component of the Centre-to-Centre partnership would be considered at a maximum of 50% of the total requested trijurisdictional project cost.
The mechanism is a two-step process with Centres being required to submit a two-page Expression of Interest, and if successful, the Centres partnership is invited to submit a single tri-jurisdictional full proposal which undergoes review at the annual Engineering Research Centre (ERC) site visit. The flow chart below outlines the steps and indicative timelines for the Centre-to-Centre mechanism.
To gauge whether the proposed collaboration fits within the scope of the US-Ireland C2C agreement, partners are asked to send a short summary of the proposed collaboration to their funding agency. This summary should be composed of two sections (each approximately one page in length). The first section should address the intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposed collaboration – focusing on the proposed research, the value of the international collaboration, the role of each participant, and the anticipated budget scale (detailed information on the budget is not necessary). The second section should focus on how the proposed project fits within the larger scope of the SFI-funded Centre, and include a short section on how intellectual property issues will be addressed within the context of participating Centres and universities.
The EoIs from each Centre are shared among partner agencies and assessed by them at a joint meeting. If approved, the Centres partnership is invited to submit a full proposal. Please ensure that these EoIs are submitted to your funding agency no later than 12 weeks in advance of the NSF deadline.
The outline of the centre-to-centre full proposal along with the evaluation criteria can be found at the link below together with the SFI cover sheet and budget template:
The peer review of the full proposal is undertaken by the NSF ERC annual site visit panel. The deadline for submission of the full proposal is determined by the date of the ERC’s annual site visit. The joint proposal must be submitted to the NSF 5 weeks in advance of the annual site visit along with the ERC’s annual report. The proposal is reviewed by the ERC’s site visit panel and reviews are made available to partner agencies in NI and the RoI to enable a funding decision. The draft full proposal will need pre-approval by SFI so it must be submitted to SFI 6 weeks in advance of the NSF deadline (11 weeks in advance of the ERC annual site visit). If supportive, SFI will provide a funding commitment letter advising the NSF and peer reviewers of our support of the RoI component should the proposal be approved for funding by the NSF post peer review. This letter is sent to the RoI applicant for inclusion in the full proposal submission to NSF, and is also send directly by SFI to the NSF. The Northern Ireland component follows a similar process.
The budget available for the RoI partner is in line with the SFI Partnership programme and is capped at 50% of the TOTAL project costs. The budget needs to be clearly and fully justified and must adhere to the SFI Grant Budget Policy http://www.sfi.ie/funding/grant-policies/grant-applications-budget-policy/.