FRL 2018 is due to launch in Q1 2018.

On this page you will find information on the closed FRL 2017 call.

The launch date and call details are subject to change, e.g. in response to alterations in Science Foundation Ireland’s annual grants budget, staffing resources, other new schemes Science Foundation Ireland may develop and government policy / priorities.

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The programme

The 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. 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 call is open to applicants based outside of Ireland as well as those recently recruited from overseas (i.e. within 2 years of the Expression of Interest deadline). The applicant must be 3-15 years post-PhD or equivalent, and will be expected to have demonstrated research excellence, independence, maturity and leadership, by having several important publications without the participation of their PhD supervisor, as well as having secured independent research funding and accumulated supervisory experience. It is also expected that the applicant would be of international standing as demonstrated by peer review experience, invited keynote talks, international collaboration, conference and workshop organisation etc., as indicators of scientific maturity.

The award has a five-year duration and is designed to provide the best setting for award holders to foster their creativity and further develop their leadership role. The recruitment of future research leaders will build the national research and enterprise base with outstanding early/mid-career researchers, and enhance Ireland’s reputation as a centre of excellence for research. The ambitions of the appointed SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leader awardee will be consistent with the strategic research direction of the host institution. 


  • To identify and recruit to Ireland the most promising of a new generation of future research leaders who are top-tier cutting edge researchers in science or engineering, and will address gaps in leadership in specific discipline areas, enable succession planning in areas which will require leadership in coming years due to retirements, or complement/strengthen ongoing activities e.g. Research Centres.
  • With the support of the host Research Body, to enable an appropriate environment (support and infrastructure) to assist the awardee in realising their potential and further develop as research leaders
  • To support excellent scientific/engineering research that has potential impact
  • To further encourage and promote Ireland’s participation in the international research community and to increase the number of ERC and H2020 awards secured by Ireland-based PIs.
  • To maintain Ireland’s top 20 position in international bibliometric rankings through an increase in the number and quality of journal publications
  • To enable collaborations with academic and industry partners particularly in areas of strategic priority
  • To increase the proportion of invention disclosures, patents, licenses and spin outs recorded by Ireland that are linked to SFI research



5 years


Up to €1,000,000 in direct costs. Due to the recruitment nature of this award, applicants may apply for an additional €250,000 to cover start-up costs. General overheads, currently 30% of ‘modified’ total direct costs, should not be included in the requested budget. The start-up costs are not eligible for an overhead contribution.


A contribution of up to 50% of the salary of the applicant is an eligible cost in cases where they will not be in receipt of a full salary from the Research Body. The remainder of the salary must be paid by the host institution and in this situation, the total value of the research award will be up to a maximum of €1,000,000, exclusive of the Research Body’s salary contribution and start-up costs. Where the applicant is already in receipt of a full salary (e.g. they are a permanent member of staff), no salary contribution may be requested. It is the expectation of SFI that the President of Ireland Future Research Leaders awardee would have moved to a full-time position funded by the host institution by the end of the award. 

Applicant eligibility

The lead applicant must:

  • Be an outstanding early/mid-career researcher between 3 and 15 years post PhD or equivalent, undertaking research in the broad areas of science or engineering in an overseas academic institution or industry, or have been recently recruited to Ireland (within 2 years of the Expression of Interest deadline)
  • Have demonstrated research excellence, independence and leadership, and shown exceptional potential to become a research leader of the future.
  • Have an outstanding track record commensurate with their field and career stage which includes significant publications (as senior author) in major international peer reviewed journals and invited presentations at well-established international conferences
  • Have secured independent research funding from competitive publicly-funded sources as a lead investigator or co-investigator. The grant must have been competitively awarded and internationally peer reviewed. Eligible research grants would be expected to support at least one full-time equivalent, excluding the applicant(s), and include research team costs (e.g. materials and consumables). This EXCLUDES smaller awards such as travel grants, equipment grants, postgraduate fellowships, postdoctoral fellowships, and awards of short duration (12 months or less). Laboratory fit-out / setup funding, awards from the applicant’s institution, and awards that have not been subject to external international peer review are also excluded. Evidence to support the validity of an award may be requested.
  • Have accumulated supervisory experience of Masters-level and/or PhD students.
  • Have demonstrated international standing (e.g. peer review, keynote talks, collaboration, conference and workshop organisation etc.) as indicators of scientific maturity, in addition to potentially demonstrated capability of working collaboratively with private enterprise.
  • Be an individual who will be recognised by the Research Body upon receipt of the SFI award as an independent investigator who will have an independent office and research space at the host Research Body for which s/he will be fully responsible for at least the duration of the SFI grant.
  • For those applicants who have been recently recruited to Ireland, they must not be employed in Ireland for more than 2 years on the date of the EoI submission.

Applicants holding an equivalent qualification may be eligible, but must seek approval from SFI in advance of submitting a proposal.

The official date of a PhD is defined as the year that the degree was conferred, i.e. the year printed on the official PhD certificate. The number of years is determined by calendar year. Allowances will be made for documented leave – see Section 4.2a of the call document for further details.

As this programme is aimed at attracting a new generation of research leaders to Ireland, applicants may not hold a significant SFI award such as Principal Investigator, Investigator Award (IA) or Project (IP), Stokes Professorship or Lectureship, Research Professorship, SFI PIYRA, SFI SIRG or SFI CDA, nor should they have received an SFI Research Centre award as a lead or co-PI.

Current holders of a RCDF–SFI HRB Wellcome Trust Biomedical Research Partnership, a Royal Society-SFI University Research Fellowship are eligible to apply to the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders programme in the last 24 months of their award (providing all other eligibility criteria are met). 

Research Body submission confirms that the lead applicant meets these criteria and is either a member of the academic staff, or awaiting appointment as defined above. 

Key dates

SESAME opens for applications:  03 March 2017
Expression of Interest Deadline: 13:00 (local time, Dublin) on 5th May 2017
Proposal Submission Deadline: 13:00 (local time, Dublin) on 1st September 2017

Review process

An outline of the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme review process can be found here.

Application procedure


SESAME will open for submissions on 03 March 2017. The deadline for applications to the President of Ireland Future Research Leaders programme is 05 May 2017, 13:00 Dublin local time. The programme consists of a two-stage submission process encompassing a three-stage review. Applicants who are successful at Expression of Interest stage will be invited to submit a full proposal in advance of a deadline on 01 September 2017, 13:00 Dublin local time. Applicants whose full proposal receives excellent reviews will be invited for interview. Interviews will comprise presentation followed by question and answer session, and will be undertaken by an international review panel. 

Candidate nominations

A potential candidate for the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders programme can contact any Irish Research Body and request consideration by the institution to be nominated. Applicants must submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) and if successful will be invited to submit a full proposal to the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders programme. This Expression of Interest (EoI) should be submitted to SFI by the applicant's proposed host Research Body.


Full details on the proposal and submission requirements may be found in the proposal call. Please read the documentation carefully in advance of queries and submission:

SFI reserves the right to make amendments to the documents if required. Please ensure that you are referring to the most recent version of the Call document and FAQs. Research Offices will be contacted in the event of any updates to the call documentation.


As detailed in the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme call, all proposals are to be submitted via SESAME, SFI’s online grants and awards management system. If accessing SESAME for the first time, researchers should contact their local Research Office to be set up on this system. For more information, view the SESAME User Guides. Questions specific to SESAME are answered on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the SESAME system.

Queries on the SESAME management system should first be directed to your Institute’s Research Office. If still unresolved, queries should be e-mailed to Please be aware that response time for queries may be up to 5 working days. For Programme related queries please contact


Science Foundation Ireland held a webinar on Tuesday 4th April to outline the details of the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders programme 2017. The SFI Impact Webinar is designed to assist applicants to SFI programme calls in formulating their Impact Statement. Applicants are encouraged to view this webinar in advance of preparing an application to the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders programme 2017. Slides of the webinar can be viewed here.