Process for changes to PI and FI personnel in Research Centre, CSET and SRC awards and multi-investigator PI awards

As per SFI Terms and Conditions the Foundation must be notified if there is any change in the status of Principal Investigators who hold active SFI awards. In addition SFI must be notified in advance if a researcher is to relinquish or assume control of SFI funds. SFI Principal Investigators (PIs), Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PIs) and SFI Funded Investigators (FIs) within SFI multi-investigator awards are designated as SFI Funded Researchers. Any change to SFI Funded Researchers must be approved by SFI in advance of assuming responsibility for overseeing research and/or research personnel supported by the Foundation.

It is the responsibility of the award holder to inform SFI in advance if:

  1. PI, co-PI or FI is departing from an SFI award
  2. a PI, co-PI or FI is joining an SFI award and will be overseeing research funded by SFI
  3. a PI, co-PI or FI will be changing status within an SFI award.

For changes involving a PI, co-PI or Director, the Vice President for Research of the lead host institution for the Centre award submits a written request to SFI to consider the change. This request will typically be submitted by email to the relevant Scientific Programme Manager within SFI and/or programmatic email address (e.g. cset@sfi.ie, centres@sfi.ie, etc.). The lead institution’s submission will, at a minimum, contain the following information:

a. The background for the request, providing an explanation as to why the existing Director/co‐PI is stepping down

b. A description of the impact that his/her departure will have on the operations or research activities of the Centre, as well as any steps being undertaken to manage or mitigate this impact

c. The CV of the proposed replacement

d. A description of the role and responsibilities of the proposed replacement within the Centre, if different from the incumbent

e. A statement from the proposed replacement that he/she is prepared to act as Director or co‐PI in the Centre, and will assume the responsibilities for the Centre award that are attached to that role

f. Process for the replacement of the Director which includes an assessment of the need to advertise internally and externally in order to obtain the calibre of candidate required to lead the Centre, and assurance of the presence of an international panellist on the selection committee, who has been approved by SFI

g. Any additional pertinent information

For changes involving a Director, additional information will be required. In this case, please contact the relevant SPM in SFI.

For changes involving an FI, the Centre director submits a written request to SFI to consider a change/addition of FI in a Centre. This request will typically be submitted by email to the relevant Scientific Programme Manager within SFI and/or programmatic email address (e.g. cset@sfi.ie, centres@sfi.ie, etc.). The Director’s submission will, at a minimum, contain the following information:

a. The background for the request, providing an explanation as to why the existing FI is stepping down or why the proposed FI should be added to the Centre

b. A description of the impact that the FI replacement / addition will have on the operations or research activities of the Centre, as well as any steps being undertaken to manage or mitigate this impact, if required

c. The CV of the proposed replacement / addition

d. A description of the role and responsibilities of the proposed replacement / addition within the Centre, if different from the incumbent, including the amount of budget to be managed and the number of research staff or students to be managed or supervised

e. A statement from the proposed replacement / addition that s/he is prepared to act as FI in the Centre, and will assume the responsibilities for the Centre award that are attached to that role

f. Any additional pertinent information

The SPM will, at his/her discretion, seek additional information that is considered to be relevant and appropriate. Depending on the nature of the change, award holders may be asked to submit a revised budget and work plan for approval by SFI.

SFI supports the use of sabbaticals by SFI funded researchers. However, there are strict conditions attached to maintaining an SFI grant when engaging in a sabbatical.   If the grant holder AND host research body wishes to maintain an SFI grant whilst on sabbatical the grant holder AND research body must jointly, in writing, (a) inform SFI in advance, and (b) construct a detailed management plan on how to manage/run SFI grant whilst on sabbatical. This plan must be submitted jointly by the grant holder/research body well in advance of the proposed sabbatical and approved by SFI. Failure to comply with this policy in full will result in suspension of the grant and possible grant termination. It is the responsibility of the grant holder AND the research body to contact  SFI in sufficient time to allow the sabbatical application process conclude in a reasonable and timely manner. For example, SFI may choose to implement a review procedure to establish progress/status on a grant where a sabbatical is proposed, and hence an appropriate time interval is required.

The sabbatical management plan proposal must contain details of the following:

  • Scientific leadership of research
  • Financial accountability/responsibility for the grant
  • Mentorship of students and other team members
  • Timelines of proposed sabbatical (including reintegration post-sabbatical)
  • A detailed revised work plan for the research for the remainder of the grant (including staffing arrangements, budgets etc.)
  • Escalation procedures during sabbatical
  • Other pertinent details
  • Sign off of both the grant holder and research body vice president of research required

Please contact your Scientific Programme Manager if you are considering taking a sabbatical whilst holding a SFI grant. It is the responsibility of the grant holder/research body to contact SFI in sufficient time to allow the above process conclude in a reasonable manner.

SFI is committed to removing and mitigating any existing or perceived factors that may limit the participation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers. In particular, SFI is committed to supporting the retention of women in science, to encourage women back into STEM careers following maternity or adoptive leave, and to position SFI schemes so that they do not unintentionally discourage the hiring of female researchers. The SFI Maternity/Adoptive Policy aims to help in addressing the gender imbalance among SFI award holders and SFI-funded team members, as highlighted in SFI census data.

The lack of support during critical times such as those surrounding childbirth or adoption is often reported as one of the factors underpinning the well-recognised dropout rate of women from STEM careers.

As of 15th November 2014, SFI invites its award holders to apply for a supplemental discretionary allowance to support their SFI funded award when either a Principal Investigator (PI) or a team member funded on an SFI award takes a period of maternity or adoptive leave.

Please refer to the SFI Maternity/Adoptive Policy before completing the request for an SFI Maternity/Adoptive Allowance form, so that you fully understand your entitlements.

Timeline for Submission of Applications

NB: applications should be submitted to SFI no later than two months before the start of the maternity leave period.

These provisions will be available as of 15th November 2014, and will apply to all relevant SFI award holders and SFI-funded team members (excluding students) whose maternity/adoptive leave start date falls on or after 15th November 2014, and will not be applied retrospectively.

Please address queries to: maternity@sfi.ie.

SFI may authorise a budget reallocation of the approved budget to assure successful completion of the original scientific objectives of a funded programme. A budget reallocation is not required to be submitted to SFI where the following reallocations of the approved budget are proposed:

(a)   The Researcher wishes to move funds between the categories Staff, Consumables and Travel, up to a value of €20,000 of the calendar year allocation for each category.

(b)   The Researcher wishes to move funds between calendar years up to a value of €20,000, based on the total budget for all categories in each calendar year.

A budget allocation is, however, required to be submitted  to SFI where the following reallocations of the approved budget are proposed:

(c)    Moving amounts in excess of €20,000 to or from any category, or to or from any calendar year must be requested through the submission of a Budget Reallocation Request and must have the prior written approval of the Foundation.

(d)   Movement of any funds to or from the Equipment category.

Any budget reallocation must be clearly justified in the context of the scientific goals of the funded programme and must not exceed the direct costs budget approved in the Letter of Offer or extend past the approved expiry date of the award.

A request for a budget reallocation should be made prior to committing or incurring expenditure, in excess of that allowed in the Letter of Offer. All requests for Budget Reallocations must be submitted on-line using SESAME, the SFI Grants Management system. The Award Holder generates the budget reallocation request using SESAME. All requests for a Budget reallocation must be approved by the Finance and Research Office of the Host Institution via SESAME. The Research office submits the Budget Reallocation request to SFI for processing. All Budget Reallocation request must be approved by an SFI Programme Officer and by the SFI Finance and Operations Office. All approvals will be processed using SESAME.

View Module 11 of the Researcher User Guide for SESAME Award Management System for completing Budget Reallocations

Please note that the SFI Terms and Conditions of the original grant approval will still apply. Once approval is granted, notification will be sent by e-mail  to the Award Holder, the Finance office and Research office of the Host Institution.

Grantees are cautioned not to make commitments or incur expenditures in the Category or Year to which you wish to reallocate funds, in excess of those allowed in your Letter of Offer, in anticipation of a Budget Reallocation being approved. Any questions in advance of submitting a Budget Reallocation should be directed to the SFI Programme Officer managing the award.

SFI may authorise a one-time extension of the expiration date of a grant if additional time beyond the Letter of Offer Award End Date is required to assure completion of the original scientific scope of work within the funds already made available. Usually this no-cost extension (NCE) will be granted for up to 6 months, but additional time may be granted if justified and warranted.

A request for NCE should be made when there are typically 3-6 months remaining on the award to allow for appropriate and timely planning but SFI will accept applications outside of this time frame if required by the Award Holder.

The award holders should request a NCE for all awards using SESAME, the new SFI Grants Management system.

Procedures for processing a NCE

The Award Holder generates the NCE request using SESAME. All requests for a NCE must be approved by the Finance and Research Office of the Host Institution via SESAME. The Research office submits the NCE request to SFI for processing. Any NCE request must be approved by an SFI Programme Officer and by the SFI Finance and Operations Office. All approvals will be processed using SESAME. As appropriate, if approval is granted, notification will be sent on-line to the Award Holder, the Finance office and Research office of the Host Institution.

There is a SESAME user guide for Researchers on the SFI Website to assist Researchers on using SESAME. View Module 11 of the Researcher User Guide for SESAME Award Management System for completing NCE. Please note that the SFI Terms and Conditions of the original grant approval still apply during the period of No Cost Extension.

The following information should be provided when applying for a No Cost Extension:

  • Justification for Extension: a strong scientific rationale explaining the need for the extension period. The fact that funds may remain at the expiration of the grant is not in itself sufficient justification for an extension. The plan must adhere to the previously approved objectives of the project.
  • Projected funds remaining after the current expiration date: budget figures should be provided which accurately record the level of funding projected to be remaining after the current expiration date on the award.
  • Spend plan during period of extension: an outline of the proposed budget breakdown into categories salary, equipment, materials & consumable, and travel during the requested period of extension. Please note that a request can be made to move funds from their existing category but any such request must be made via a Budget Reallocation Request submitted on SESAME.

Once a NCE is approved for an award, written approval will specify a new expiration date and will be communicated by  e-mail to the researcher , the Finance and Research Offices of the Host Institution. Grantees are cautioned not to make new commitments or incur new expenditures after the original expiration date in anticipation of a No Cost Extension. Any questions in advance of submitting a No Cost Extension Request should be directed to the SFI Scientific Programme Manager managing the award.