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Programmes for Early and Mid-Career Researchers

Science Foundation Ireland recognises the necessity to support early- and mid-career researchers to become excellent, fully independent research leaders and provides a number of mechanisms in that regard. These include the Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG), a number of fellowships under the SFI-HRB-Wellcome Trust Biomedical Research Partnership (Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowship, Research Career Development Fellowship (RCDF), Senior Research Fellowship and Career Re-Entry Fellowship) , the Royal Society University Research Fellowship (URF) , the SFI Career Development Award (CDA), the President of Ireland Young Researcher Award (PIYRA) (to close to EoI applications on December 22, 2015) and the newly launched President of Ireland Future Research Leaders programme. SIRG, CDA, PIYRA and the President of Ireland Future Research Leaders programme are SFI-led programmes, whilst the other schemes are led by UK research funders with funding or part-funding provided by the Foundation. 

The SFI Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) programme aims to support excellent postdoctoral researchers who wish to take steps towards a fully independent research career. SIRG calls have run every second year since 2009 and it is envisaged that the next SIRG call will launch in 2017 (subject to available budget).   Please find details of the most recent closed SIRG call at the following link

The SFI Career Development Award (CDA) aims to support early- and mid-career researchers who already hold a salaried, independent research post and who are looking to expand their research activities. This programme is now OPEN and has an institutional candidate nomination deadline of 16 December 2016 at 13:00 Dublin local time and a submission deadline for the full proposal on 22 March 2017 at 13:00 Dublin local time. Please find the call document and other Career Development Award programme-related documentation at the following link.

 President of Ireland Future Research Leaders programme is a recruitment-only programme designed to attract to Ireland outstanding new and emerging research leaders in both scientific and engineering domains, where candidates may have both academic and/or industry relevant backgrounds with a focus on research excellence with impact.  Candidates are expected to address current gaps in leadership, methodologies and skill sets in specific discipline areas (including, but not limited to advanced manufacturing, bioprocessing, agri-food, cyber-security, smart cities, energy and marine research).  Candidates may also be recruited to complement and strengthen ongoing activities e.g. SFI Research Centres, or as part of Research Body succession planning for areas which will require leadership in coming years.  The 2016 call is now CLOSED to new applications but it is envisaged that there will be a President of Ireland Future Research Leaders 2017 call subject to available budget. Please find the call document and other President of Ireland Future Research Leaders programme-related documentation at the following link.


The SFI President of Ireland Young Researcher Award (PIYRA) programme recognises outstanding engineers and scientists who, early in their careers, have already demonstrated or shown exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge. This programme operated on a rolling call basis but is now closed to new EoI applications

SFI-HRB-Wellcome Trust Biomedical Research Partnership The Wellcome Trust, in partnership with SFI and the HRB, funds biomedical and clinical research in the Republic of Ireland under the auspices of the SFI-HRB-Wellcome Trust Biomedical Research Partnership. Schemes of particular interest to the early and mid-career researchers are:
Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowships-Provide support for the most promising newly qualified postdoctoral researchers. Deadlines twice a year.
Research Career Development Fellowships (RCDF) - Provide an opportunity for postdoctoral scientists to become independent research scientists and to undertake research of high quality. Deadlines three times a year.
Senior Research Fellowships in Basic Biomedical Science (SRFBBS) - Provide support for exceptional individuals who can demonstrate their ability to carry out independent research. Deadlines three times a year.
Career Re-entry Fellowships. Provide postdoctoral scientists who have had a recent break of at least two years with the opportunity to return to high-quality research, with the potential for refresher or further training. Deadlines twice a year.
Please find further information at the following link.

Royal Society-Science Foundation Ireland University Research Fellowship (URF) scheme is for outstanding scientists in the Republic of Ireland who are in the early stages of their research career and have the potential to become leaders in their field. The scheme covers all areas of the life and physical sciences, including engineering, but excluding clinical medicine and any researcher addressing a direct biomedical question. Successful candidates will be awarded a fellowship by the Royal Society, the cost of which will be met by Science Foundation Ireland. It is envisaged that the next call will launch in summer 2017.  Further information on the most recent closed call can be found at the following link.

Applicants to SIRG, RS URF and WT RCDF are considered to be at the transition to independence stage, whilst CDA, WT SRFBBS and PIYRA applicants may be considered at the transition to leadership stage of their careers. In broad terms:

Transition to independence applies to early career researchers who are ready to embark on a career independent of their current supervisor; they will have a track record of research activity which includes senior author publications and they will demonstrate an upward trajectory; they should be capable of describing research plans that fit into a national and international context and be starting to show evidence of independence and international recognition.

Transition to leadership applies to early- and mid-career researchers who have already demonstrated research independence for example by securing a faculty position, having a track record with significant senior author publications, potentially having secured research funding, and having mentored and supervised staff and have ambition to transition to managing a larger research team.

Other funding opportunities:

SFI encourages researchers to contemplate various types of funding opportunities, both nationally and internationally. Research Professional is the world’s leading provider of news and funding information for research professionals. It provides the largest database of research funding opportunities available worldwide, covering all career stages, areas of research expertise and types of funding.

Creating a Research Professional account will ensure that you receive details and alerts of funding opportunities that are most relevant to your expertise.