Do you have an idea for a solution that could help Ireland become an environmentally sustainable economy?

The Future Food Systems Challenge gives academic research teams a unique opportunity to contribute to Ireland’s transition to an environmentally sustainable and climate-neutral economy. Following review of applications, successful teams will receive funding of up to €250,000 and training to accelerate development of their idea. A number of teams will then be selected as finalists and receive up to €500,000 to further develop their idea before an overall winner is selected for the €2 million prize award.

The National Challenge Fund is an agile, fast-paced programme that allows research teams to work with societal stakeholders to deliver tangible impact through their research. In addition to funding, teams are provided with training and mentoring to support acceleration of an idea and to demonstrate how it can solve real-world problems. Participation has the potential to open up significant career development and collaborative opportunities.  


Applications are welcome from teams of academic researchers based at eligible Irish research bodies. Teams are strongly encouraged to consider including researchers from different and diverse disciplines, at all career stages.   

Applications should be submitted by two academic researchers who will act as team lead and co-lead. It is strongly recommended that applications also identify a Societal Impact Champion to act in a non-technical leadership role. Where a Societal Impact Champion is not identified at the time of application, teams successful in their applications will be expected to have the Societal Impact Champion in place soon after their award commences.

The Future Food Systems Challenge consists of four phases: Concept, Seed, Grow and Prize Award. Participation in the challenge will involve teams progressing through the phases, each supporting further development of the challenge concept and solution, to compete for an overall prize award of €2 million.  



Duration (months)

Funding (€)













Prize Award






Call launch 20 February 2023
Application deadline 26 May 2023
Award decision June 2023
Concept phase Q3 2023
Seed phase Q2 2024
Grow phase Q1 2025
Prize phase Q1 2026

Greenhouse gases from the agricultural sector represent the largest contribution to Ireland’s Emissions Inventory, but there remain significant challenges in achieving reductions while maintaining productivity. There are opportunities for innovation across the food value chain, from production to consumption to ensure a sustainable food system for all.   

The Future Food Systems Challenge seeks solutions for sustainable, productive and resilient food systems.  

Under this Challenge, applications would be considered in areas including but not limited to:  

  • Methane emissions – solutions to measure, manage and reduce methane emissions from the agriculture sector.   
  • Sustainable and regenerative agriculture – Solutions that will enable the transformation to a low-input, low-impact agrifood sector, for example, through reduced/alternative fertiliser use, water efficiency, or fewer fossil-based or chemical inputs.  
  • Alternative proteins – Solutions to provide lower impact sources of protein across the food value chain for animals and humans  
  • Food waste/loss – Solutions to reduce food loss and waste across the full breadth of the food supply chain  
  • Bioeconomy – Solutions to transform and reuse biological resources into value-added products, such as food, feed, bio-based products as well as bioenergy  
  • Soil – Solutions to preserve and restore healthy soils as an essential component of the climate transition and a sustainable agricultural sector.   

This broad thematic call is one of a number of calls that will seek solutions to support Ireland’s Green Transition. Applicants to this call are particularly encouraged to consider novel, forward-looking solutions that could contribute to meeting 2050 objectives.

The National Challenge Fund was established under the Government’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), funded by the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. The fund is coordinated and administered by Science Foundation Ireland. 

Applications are open online and must be submitted through SFI’s Grants Management System SESAME. If accessing SESAME for the first time, researchers should contact their local Research Office to get access to the system.  

The deadline for submission of applications to this call will be May 26th 2023.   

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

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National Challenge Fund webinar 30th March 2023