SFI is pleased to introduce the SFI Frontiers for Partnership Awards component of the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme.

The SFI Frontiers for Partnership Awards call is running in parallel with the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme Awards rolling call. The SFI Frontiers for Partnership call is open to research proposals led by the Technological University (TU) / Institutes of Technology (IoT) sector with partners from the established University sector. 

A key goal of the recently launched SFI Strategy 2025, Shaping our Future, is to “increase geographical involvement and engagement across the country, including through the SFI Research Centres, and increased collaboration with the new Technological Universities and the Institutes of Technology to ensure that benefits arising from our activities are realised across the entirety of Ireland.” In support of this goal, the newly formed Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) has provided budget to SFI to support partnerships between the TU/IOTs and the University sector. The key goal of this partnership is to support highly excellent, impactful research which benefits from the unique strengths of both sectors.

Our Partners

The SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme will be run in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). SFI is open to forging new co-funding partnerships with agencies and organisations. 


SFI hosted an information webinar for applicants on the 27th April 2021 – the webinar was recorded and can be downloaded here.


SFI Frontiers for Partnership Awards 


Fixed Deadline: 26th May 2021, 13.00 Dublin local time 


€500,000 - €1,000,000 (direct costs) 


48 or 60 months 

In addition to the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme objectives, the SFI Frontiers for Partnership Awards call has the following objectives:  

  • To increase the research capacity of the TU/IoTs through the facilitation of teaching replacement
  • To increase the number of PhD students in the TU/IoT sector
  • To increase the geographical range of SFI’s funding portfolio 

SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme Objectives

  • To build research capacity, expertise and reputation through funding excellent scientific research ​
  • To fund highly innovative Awards with strong potential for impact and to provide the opportunity to conduct high-risk, high-reward Projects
  • To provide additional supports for excellent female researchers to secure funding
  • To retain and improve Ireland’s reputation as a place to carry out excellent research
  • To facilitate researchers based in Ireland to lead consortia and to win further support through various non-Exchequer funding schemes​
  • To allow Ireland-based researchers to win top-tier international prizes
  • To develop an integrated research ecosystem through partnerships with other agencies
  • To support relevant collaborations and partnerships
  • To support researchers returning to active academic research after a period of eligible leave

To be eligible for funding through the SFI Frontiers for Partnership Awards call, all proposals must be aligned to one of the 14 Refreshed Priority Areas for 2018-2023, or to any other research area within SFI’s legal remit (i.e. oriented basic or applied research) where there is convincing evidence that there will be significant potential for economic and/or societal impact in Ireland.

Full details on programme eligibility are available in the SFI Frontiers for Partnership Awards 2021 call document. In summary: 

  • The Lead Applicant must be a Researcher based in a TU or IoT within the Republic of Ireland.
  • Inclusion of a Co-Applicant from any other SFI Eligible Research Body is mandatory and no more than one Co-Applicant per application is permitted. The Co-Applicant cannot be from another TU or IoT.
  • Applicants must have held a PhD or equivalent qualification for at least three years by proposal submission.
  • Applicants are required to have demonstrated that they have been a senior author on at least three international peer-reviewed articles (see the programme call document for details).
  • For details on the criteria around the employment status of applicants, please see the call document. 
  • Lead Applicant or Co-Applicant salary is not an eligible cost for the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme. Applicants must obtain their salary either from an award in their own name (excluding fellowship-type awards) or be salaried by the host institution. Postdoctoral researchers (or equivalent) are not eligible to apply to this call
  • Applicants must be hosted by an Eligible Research Body. A list of Eligible Research Bodies is available here

Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply. 

SFI is a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment (DORA). As such, SFI is aligning its review and evaluation processes with DORA principles. To this end, all types of research output are recognised by SFI and we are committed to assessing the quality and impact of research through means other than journal impact factors. SFI has developed a DORA-compliant CV template to assist with compliance to DORA principles. Furthermore, in the spirit of supporting open research and as a signatory of Plan S, SFI will positively consider where there is a commitment to making data and other types of research open and accessible. 

Applications will be reviewed under three key review criteria: 

  • Quality, significance and relevance of the applicant’s and co-applicant’s (if relevant) key achievements and research track record, commensurate with their career stage and research discipline, taking any periods of leave into account and considering the quality and relevance of the collaborators and/or mentor, if relevant. 

The following areas will be considered: 1) Generation of Knowledge, 2) Development of Individuals and Collaboration, 3) Supporting Broader Society & the Economy and, 4) Supporting the Research Community. 

  • Quality, significance, novelty, and strategic relevance of the research plan  

Including importance, timeliness of the proposed research; quality of institutional support; communication and description of the research; comprehension of the current state of the art; value for money, the Sex and Gender dimension, etc. 

  • Potential impact and value to Ireland 

Including appreciation of how research may be developed and exploited in the medium-to-long term; realistic and convincing evaluation of the benefits that will result from a successful project; areas and fields where impacts are likely to be made etc. 

An outline of the Frontiers for the Future Programme review process can be found in the programme call document. A schematic of the review can be found here.

Lead Applicants on SFI Frontiers for Partnership Awards proposals must submit a proposal to SFI through their host institution Research Office before the deadline of 26th May 2021 at 13:00 Dublin Local Time

SFI reserves the right to make amendments to the documents if required. Please ensure to refer to the most recent version of the programme documentation. Research Offices will be contacted in the event of any updates to the call document.

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 programme. View the SFI Research Impact webinar on YouTube here.

All proposals are to be submitted via SESAME, SFI’s online grants and awards management system. SESAME is open for applications. Applicants must use the 'SFI Frontiers for the Future 2021 - Frontiers for Partnership Award' application form, which is available on SESAME. This is separate from the SFI FFP Awards rolling call application form.

If accessing SESAME for the first time, researchers should contact their local Research Office to be set up on this system. For more information on SESAME see here

Queries on the SESAME management system should first be directed to your Institute’s Research Office. If still unresolved, queries should be submitted via SESAME. Please be aware that response time for queries may be up to 5 working days. 

Please note that SFI is expecting a very high application rate to this programme and has limited SESAME helpdesk resources. To avoid any delays in submission, researchers should familiarise themselves with the SESAME system and online help resources provided well in advance of the SFI and institution internal call deadlines. 

SFI is committed to increasing the number of SFI grants held by female researchers, as described in its Gender Strategy. Towards achieving this goal, the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme will provide additional supports for excellent female researchers to secure funding. When ranking applications, in the event of applications receiving the same final score, SFI will give priority in the review process to applications from female candidates. Although SFI receives more applications from male candidates compared to female candidates, the success rates for male and female candidates is comparable following peer-review. 

  • The success rate for both female and male applicants across SFI’s portfolio of awards is ~ 30%
  • Successful female applicants, on average, receive smaller awards, than male applicants; however, male applicants, on average, request more funding than female applicants

Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply to this funding call. We encourage applicants to consider the above points when preparing their application budgets and associated justification. Further details on SFI’s data on application submission and success rates by gender can be found on the SFI Gender Dashboard.

As outlined in the call document, researchers applying to the Frontiers for the Future Programme should refer to the November 2019 version of the SFI Grant Applications Budget Policy.

For Programme related queries please contact ffp@sfi.ie