SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme provides opportunities for independent investigators to conduct highly innovative, collaborative research with the potential to deliver impact, whilst also providing discrete opportunities for high-risk, high-reward research projects.
The SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme will be run in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI). SFI is open to forging new co-funding partnerships with agencies and organisations.
The programme comprises two streams – Frontiers for the Future Programme Projects and Frontiers for the Future Programme Awards.
- Frontiers for the Future Projects provides funding for high-risk, high-reward research that facilitates highly innovative and novel approaches to research.
- Frontiers for the Future Awards provides larger scale funding for innovative, collaborative and excellent research programmes that have the potential to deliver economic and societal impact.
The programme design is driven by feedback from the research community (SFI strategy workshops and SFI Researcher Survey) seeking funding for individual-led research and access to shorter-term project funding.
This programme provides opportunities to address gender imbalance and to provide support for Emerging Investigators that may be returning to research after a period of leave.
SFI hosted an information webinar for all potential Frontiers for the Future Programme applicants and Research Office staffFrontiers for the Future Webinar 2020
SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme
Fixed Deadline: 8th October 2020, 13.00 Dublin local time
Rolling Call: Accepting applications from 1st September 2020. FFP Awards will remain open for a minimum of 12 months (i.e. end of August 2021).
€200,000 - €480,000 (direct costs)
€500,000 - €1,000,000 (direct costs)
24, 36 or 48 months
48 or 60 months
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 the Future Programme, 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 call document. In summary:
- 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).
- Applicants must be members of the academic staff of an eligible Research Body (permanent or with a contract that covers the period of the grant), or, A contract researcher with a contract that covers the period of the grant, who is recognised by the Research Body as an independent investigator at proposal submission and will have an independent office and research space at the host Research Body for which the researcher will be fully responsible for at least the duration of the SFI grant.
- 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.
- Further restrictions may apply if the applicants currently hold an SFI grant or are under review for another SFI Programme. Please see the call document for further details.
Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply, see below for further details.
Emerging Investigator Category
Applicants who fulfil the programme eligibility criteria listed above can choose to be reviewed as an “Emerging Investigator” if they also:
- have not previously held a significant SFI research award or
- have had a period of eligible leave from research
The “Emerging Investigator” category will be assessed alongside and against the same criteria as all other applicants; however, the weighting of the review scores will mean that there is increased emphasis on the quality of the research over the track record.
Please see the programme call document for further details.
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.
*For the Emerging Investigator category, weighting of the review scores will mean that there is increased emphasis on the quality of the research over the track record
**The weighting of the review scores will mean that there is decreased emphasis on the impact criterion for SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme Projects compared to Awards.
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 the Future Project proposals must submit a proposal to SFI through their host institution Research Office before the deadline of 8th October 2020 at 13:00 Dublin Local Time.
Lead Applicants on SFI Frontiers for the Future Award proposals may submit a proposal to SFI through their host institution Research Office from 1st September 2020. The SFI Frontiers for the Future Awards call will remain open for a minimum of 12 months (i.e. end of August 2021).
- SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme Call Document (PDF) (Word)
- SFI Frontiers for the Future Applicant and Co-Applicant CV Template
- SFI Frontiers for the Future Collaborator CV Template
- Schematic of the SFI Frontiers to the Future Programme review process
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.
SFI Impact Webinar
How to Apply
All proposals are to be submitted via SESAME, SFI’s online grants and awards management system. SESAME is open for applications shortly. Please note that there are separate application forms for Projects and Awards.
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 e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.