In 2020, COVID-19 and climate change brought to the fore the importance of the role of science and research in improving our world. SFI supports the work of early-stage researchers, established individuals and larger research collectives, investing in world-class talent to help Ireland become a global innovation leader in scientific and engineering research for the advancement of Ireland’s economy and society.

Supporting a diverse STEM talent pool

SFI collaborates with government, industry and universities, working to create and sustain a more diverse STEM talent pool that is positioned to help rebuild our economy, and a more equitable and inclusive society, creating and advancing knowledge that can better ensure we are resilient to future economic and societal disruptions.

Pictured right: Lola Jordan from Tivoli Senior Branch and Issy Jordan of Tivoli Guides, Dun Laoghaire, at the launch of Irish Girl Guides’ Space badge.

Talent and Skills Key Statistics 2020

  • 574

    SFI Award Holders and 643 SFI Funded Investigators supported.
  • 1,966

    postgraduate (PhD and Masters) students supported by SFI.
  • €5.4 million

    invested in 50 STEM projects through the SFI Discover Programme Call, while Science Week celebrated 25 years.
  • €699,000

    invested in 12 awards under the SFI Public Service Fellowship Programme.

SFI Centres for Research Training Programme

The SFI Centres for Research Training Programme was established to increase the number of PhDs under the theme of ‘Data and ICT Skills for the Future’.

This is helping to meet the data skills needs of industry and to support and nurture early-career research talent, preparing postgraduate students for a multitude of career pathways, with 37% going on to Industry. This cohort model gives PhD students significant support in peer-to-peer learning and the opportunity to work across institutions.

In 2020, 179 students began their PhDs. 41% of these were women.

“We get a lot of opportunity to present our own research to our peers, as well as learn about each other’s research. We get to build relationships with thought leaders in their fields through having access to the multiple universities. We get a lot of industry partners in to give interesting talks about how machine learning can be used in industry and how our work then can be translated into an industry environment after we finish our PhDs.”   
Ciara Feely, PhD candidate at the SFI Centre for Research Training in Machine Learning.

SFI Supporting Emerging Research Leaders

In 2020, SFI launched the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme to support individual-led research with an emphasis on areas of high-risk, high-reward, to help us to build a better future for Ireland through discovery, innovation, and impact. Run in collaboration with the Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the programme design was driven by feedback from the research community seeking funding for individual-led research and access to shorter-term project funding. The first Frontier awards were announced, 72 in total, representing an investment of €52 million supporting research in areas such as spinal cord injury, novel materials, species biodiversity in food production, computer graphics and information security. 45% of the research grants supported are to be led by women researchers.

Explore The Report - Our Key Chapters

  • Responding to COVID-19

    In 2020, the global research community came together in an unprecedented, and immensely collaborative and agile manner to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Find out more
  • Excellent Science

    SFI supports and drives Ireland’s contribution to the latest scientific breakthroughs which lead to innovation for academia, enterprise, the public sector, society and beyond.

    Find out more
  • Global Footprint

    In 2020 SFI continued to foster and maintain our strong global connections with international funding agencies, as well as seeking new opportunities for international research collaborations.

    Find out more
  • Driving Competitiveness

    Ireland is a competitive, innovative country with ambitions to become a global innovation leader.

    Find out more

Responding to COVID-19

In 2020, the global research community came together in an unprecedented, and immensely collaborative and agile manner to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find out more

Excellent Science

SFI supports and drives Ireland’s contribution to the latest scientific breakthroughs which lead to innovation for academia, enterprise, the public sector, society and beyond.

Find out more

Global Footprint

In 2020 SFI continued to foster and maintain our strong global connections with international funding agencies, as well as seeking new opportunities for international research collaborations.

Find out more

Driving Competitiveness

Ireland is a competitive, innovative country with ambitions to become a global innovation leader.

Find out more

Download the full Report

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