In March 2020, the Irish Government launched a National Action Plan in response to COVID-19 focused on minimising risk of illness for all, minimising risk of exposure of vulnerable groups and minimising social and economic disruption. As a key action in this plan, a coordinated RD&I funding opportunity was launched to enable the research and innovation community to respond to the immediate and pressing needs of society arising from the pandemic. This call involved SFI, EI, IDA, the HRB and the IRC. 

As Ireland looks beyond the initial response to the pandemic and to economic and societal recovery, significant research is required to better understand, mitigate and recover from the impact of COVID-19, and to enhance our readiness and resilience for future resurgences of the virus or other public health emergencies. This call aims to support research in a number of thematic areas focused on advancing our knowledge of the virus and its impact on our health, and developing solutions that contribute to economic and societal recovery.

SFI, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland continue to support Ireland’s RD&I community in their response to COVID-19. Please note, however, that applications to this deadline call will be accepted from applicants in SFI Eligible Research Bodies only. Collaboration with industry is permitted and encouraged where appropriate.  

Companies interested in potentially applying for R&D funding in areas outlined in the call or related topics should speak in the first instance to their normal agency contacts at Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland.  An agency representative will advise whether your project idea is suitable for consideration and assist with how an application can proceed. 

The purpose of Phase 2 is to fund projects up to 14 months in duration that build scientific knowledge and/or develop novel solutions that have the potential to impact society in the short/medium term in a number of thematic areas.  

To support all-Ireland collaborative research initiatives, SFI has entered into partnership with the Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland). Under this partnership, researchers in Northern Ireland can seek funding as part of joint proposals to this call. Please see the additional guidance for details.  

This will be the final call under SFI’s COVID-19 Rapid Response funding. However, funding may be sought for COVID-19-related projects under other SFI programmes, such as the SFI Frontiers for the Future Call or SFI Strategic Partnerships. Potential applicants are advised to consider the suitability of their proposal and to consider the most appropriate mechanism. 

The specific objectives of this call are: 

  • To support rapid social and economic recovery and to enhance our preparedness for future emergencies; 
  • To build research capacity and expertise relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious diseases; 
  • To support coordinated research efforts and collaboration across the research ecosystem in Ireland and internationally; 
  • To enable all-Ireland collaborative research initiatives; 

Only Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)-led applications are eligible to be submitted under this call, i.e., applications in which the primary innovation is in an area of STEM. While the involvement of applicants from the behavioural/social/economic sciences is strongly encouraged, particularly in informing the adoption and impact of novel interventions, it is expected that the applicants leading the proposal will have demonstrable track records in the relevant STEM area. 

Applications may be submitted to this call that align with the following thematic areas, which are described in detail in the call document

  • Infection Prevention and Control 
  • Understanding the Virus and Host Response  
  • STEM-led Solutions for Stimulating and Sustaining Rapid Economic Recovery 


Areas not within scope of call 

The areas listed below have been deemed to be out of the scope of the call and will not be eligible to be reviewed:  

  • Vaccine Development 
  • Diagnostic and Serological Assay Development 
  • Telehealth / Remote Patient Monitoring 
  • Development of an app as the primary output of a study (this may, however, be included as part of an overall novel technology solution) 
  • Studies whose primary purpose is to develop or update guidelines on best practice (this may, however, be a secondary outcome of a study) 
  • Feasibility studies of existing products or technologies 
  • Manufacturing of personal protective equipment (novel materials/design for PPE is in scope) 
  • Contact tracing 

Applications must be submitted through SFI’s Grants Management System SESAME. The deadline for submission of applications to this call will be 26 August 2020 (13:00, Dublin, local time).

Applicants should carefully review all call documentation and eligibility information before preparing an application. Applicants must use the templates provided below and adhere to all guidelines. 

COVID-19 Rapid Response Call (Phase 2) documentation: 

In response to the global pandemic, Amazon Web Services (AWS) offered their services to the Government of Ireland with a view to positively impacting the research effort to combat COVID-19. After discussions between AWS and SFI, AWS is proposing to offer cloud services (and architectural guidance if needed) to support awardees from both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the call, where appropriate and where of interest to the awardee and of value to the award.

In this context, AWS held an information webinar on August 20th at 2pm to explain in detail how their web services may benefit some research teams / projects under the Covid-19 call. The webinar was recorded and is available.