Programme Overview

Attracting outstanding research talent to Ireland is one of the principal ambitions of SFI. The recruitment of world-leading scientists and engineers will help to build the national research base and enhance Ireland’s reputation as a location to carry out high-impact, high-quality research.

Since its launch in 2003, the SFI Research Professorship Programme has sought to support national strategic priorities by assisting research bodies in the recruitment of world-leading researchers for Professorial Chairs, or similar research leadership positions in targeted scientific areas. The programme has also acted as a mechanism to support the recruitment of individuals who possess a strong industry background and may also allow for the recruitment of those intending to hold senior roles in SFI Research Centres or other centres of scale. The SFI Research Professorship Programme shares in the ERC’s imperative that excellence is essential. Given the demand, as detailed above, to enhance ERC success in Ireland, the current call to the SFI Research Professorship Programme will be aligned to the ERC in three distinct ways, namely by:

  1. Supporting the full-time recruitment of researchers whose excellence has already been demonstrated through success in calls to ERC schemes;
  2. Embedding the next generation of ERC award holders into Ireland’s research bodies by providing competitive initial funding and the potential for further support following ERC success;
  3. Offering an opportunity for candidates who hold active ERC awards to take up a joint appointment, through which their working time will be divided between the host institution for their ERC award and an eligible Research Body in Ireland.

Through these three distinct opportunities, the SFI Research Professorship Programme will not only provide Research Bodies in Ireland with an opportunity to identify and create strategically relevant, timely and critically needed posts, but will also ensure that they are filled by world-class researchers who have either demonstrated their excellence by obtaining funding through extremely competitive ERC funding calls, or who are able to convince their peers that they have the potential to win ERC funding in the near future.

The purpose of the SFI Research Professorship Programme is to recruit outstanding, world-renowned research and leadership talent to Ireland to help build the national research and enterprise base, to enhance Ireland’s reputation as a global leader in scientific and engineering research, discovery and innovation, and to provide inspiration by catalysing new research activities. The ambitions of the appointed SFI Research Professor will not only be consistent with the strategic plans of the host Research Body but will also need to align with Ireland’s strategic objectives and its national research and innovation priorities.

SFI is committed to providing opportunities for female researchers through its funding programmes. As laid out in SFI’s Gender Strategy (Strand 2: Gender Balance in Research Teams), a key objective for the Foundation is for 30% of its awards to be held by female investigators by 2020. In addition, SFI is mandating that almost all eligible Research Bodies must receive an Athena SWAN Bronze Institutional Award by 2020 to be allowed to continue to host SFI awards. To date, Research Bodies in Ireland have seldom approached the SFI Research Professorship Programme as a mechanism for the recruitment of female researchers. However, it is recognised that addressing gender imbalance amongst senior academic roles can help to inspire more widespread change at all levels within academia. This call will implement actions designed to encourage Research Bodies to appropriately consider the recruitment of female Research Professors (see the FAQ section for more details).

Given the outstanding nature of the individuals this programme is intended to support, submission of Full Proposals will be by invitation only following an Expression-of-Interest phase during which SFI will work closely with the host research body. Funding will be provided to successful applicants for a five-year programme of work; the funding available may depend on whether the candidate holds an active ERC award, and whether the applicant plans to move to Ireland as part of a joint appointment. The maximum award available through the programme is €5M direct costs over five years.


Call Document (PDF)


Applicant CV template (Word)


Queries should be directed to