The goal of the SFI ARC Hub Programme is to establish a new model for regional innovation and entrepreneurial training, that will catalyse a step-change in the translation of cutting-edge publicly-funded research toward impact at a regional level. The SFI ARC Hub Programme will enhance and accelerate the commercialisation of research to create new products, processes and services. The realisation of the programme will be through the establishment of up to three regional SFI ARC Hubs focused on specific thematic areas that will be aligned with the respective regional strategic priorities and the ‘National Smart Specialisation Strategy for Innovation 2022-2027’ (S3). The SFI ARC Hub, as a distributed consortium of Research Bodies, will create regional ecosystems focused on optimising research translation and training future entrepreneurs through establishing new academic networks and bringing together stakeholders, while leveraging existing supports, as appropriate. It is expected that SFI ARC Hub will foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship supported by processes that will operationalise and scale opportunity realisation to deliver transformative new products, processes and services to market.

The SFI ARC Hub Programme is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union under two European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Regional Programmes - the Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programme 2021-2027 and the Northern and Western Regional Programme 2021-2027. All applicants must comply with the relevant EU and the ERDF regulations as outlined in the Call Document and with the national law. Failure to do so will render the application ineligible for funding.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aims to promote economic, social and territorial cohesion across all European regions. The SFI ARC Hub Programme will support the following ERDF objectives:

Policy Objective 1: A more competitive and smarter Europe by promoting innovative and smart economic transformation and regional ICT connectivity

Specific Objective: Developing and enhancing research and innovation capacities and the uptake of advanced technologies

The primary objectives of SFI’s ARC Hub programme are:

  • To drive regional development by accelerating novel, cutting-edge research, towards commercial impact readiness, in areas aligned with Ireland’s Smart Specialisation Strategy.
  • To develop a cohort of entrepreneurial scientists and engineers with the skills to realise commercial opportunities from research activities. To enhance and accelerate the translation of research to impact through the commercialisation process.
  • To enhance and accelerate the translation of research to impact through the commercialisation process. 
  • To successfully transition SFI-funded research projects into existing national and international closer-to-market supports, as appropriate.

The SFI ARC Hub will be led by a Hub Director (Lead Applicant) with support from a group of Co-PIs (Co-Applicants). Research and commercialisation activities will be supported by an Operations Team. The team will undertake activities such as agile project management, administration, scouting and business development, marketing, promotion of ARC Hub and communications. Their active and expert management of the research portfolio will ensure that projects are shaped for success from the earliest stages of the R&D pathway.

Each SFI ARC Hub award will include a translational research budget, which will be used to support researchers who have identified novel research opportunities that can be accelerated towards rapid commercial impact. At application stage, it is expected that the SFI ARC Hub applicants will present a programme of research that has strong potential for commercialisation and provides assurance of the level of demand for a SFI ARC Hub in the proposed thematic area, as well as the potential for impact and achievement of the performance indicators. In addition to those projects approved as part of the application for funding, the translational research budget awarded to the SFI ARC Hub may support follow-on funding for successful projects, as well as being used to support new projects during the lifetime of the ARC Hub that are deemed to be high quality research projects with commercial potential.

One SFI ARC Hub will be funded under the Northern & Western Regional Programme (covering Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Leitrim) and two SFI ARC Hub will be funded under the Southern, Eastern & Midland Regional Programme covering the Southern Region (Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Clare, Waterford, Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny) and Eastern and Midland Region (Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, Louth, Longford, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath).

Each SFI ARC Hub will be hosted by a lead Research Body located in the Regional Programme area, but it will be multi-site and can involve collaboration with other Research Bodies both in the Regional Programme area and in other Regional Programme areas in the Republic of Ireland.

The total budget for this initiative is €99.33 million, which has been provided by the Government of Ireland (€52.67 million) and the European Union (€46.67 million). This funding is available through the ERDF Northern and Western Regional Programme 2021-2027 (€34.66 million) and the Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programme 2021-27 (€64.66 million).

The initiative will enable up to three hubs to be funded at an average total cost of approximately €33 million each over a period of 5 years. The total funding that can be requested from this Programme is dependent on the location of the host Research Body for the ARC Hub. Further information can be found within the programme call document.

As an ERDF co-funded operation, each SFI ARC Hub must operate in a specific thematic area aligned with the existing and emerging sectoral areas of strength (outlined below) as identified in Ireland’s Smart Specialisation Strategy. Applicants will be expected to articulate how the proposed Hub aligns with a priority sector for the host region, as well as the potential to benefit the region through economic development and innovation diffusion. 

Sectoral Strengths and Emerging Areas of Opportunity:

Northern and Western Region

  • Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering
  • AgriFood and AgriTech
  • Audiovisual/Creative
  • ICT and ICT Services
  • Life Sciences, MedTech and Medical Devices
  • Marine and Blue Economy
  • Renewable Energy, Climate Change Mitigation and Sustainability

Eastern and Midland Region

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Audiovisual
  • Biopharma/Life Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Financial Services/FinTech
  • Food/AgriTech
  • ICT

Southern Region

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Automotive/Aerospace
  • Design
  • Financial Services
  • Food/AgriTech
  • ICT
  • Marine/Maritime
  • Pharma/MedTech
  • Renewable Energy

Prior to peer-review, each application will be assessed by SFI to ensure it is eligible in terms of both the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) criteria as well as SFI eligibility criteria. Full details on the programme eligibility are available in the SFI ARC Hubs call document.

The criteria set out by SFI for the Lead Applicant and Co-Applicants in terms of employment status, qualifications and general experience is outlined below.

In summary, the Lead Applicant (Hub Director) and Co-Applicants must:

  • Be a member 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 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, or

An individual who will be recognised by the Research Body upon receipt of the SFI grant as a member of the academic staff or as a contract researcher as defined above. The applicant does not necessarily need to be employed by the Research Body at the time of proposal submission.

  • Have held a PhD or equivalent qualification for at least eight years by full proposal submission.
  • Have been a senior author on at least ten international peer-reviewed articles
  • Have demonstrated research independence through securing at least one independent research grant as a lead investigator or as co-investigator.
  • Have the experience, capability and authority to mentor and supervise postgraduate students and team members.
  • Be hosted by an Eligible Research Body. A list of Eligible Research Bodies is available here. 

Applicant groups intending to submit a full proposal application to the SFI ARC Hub call must submit an abstract to no later than the 21st July 2023, 13:00 Dublin Local Time.

Any full proposals submitted where an abstract has not been provided will be rejected without review. A template for submission of an abstract can be found below.

Full proposals are to be submitted via SESAME, SFI’s online grants and awards management system. If accessing SESAME for the first time, applicants should contact their local Research Office to get access to the system. 

For more information, view the SFI ARC Hub Call document (see downloads) and SESAME User Guides.


  • Call announcement: 1st June 2023
  • Webinar: 14th June 2023, 11:30 Dublin Local Time
  • Deadline for abstract submission: 21st July 2023, 13:00 Dublin Local Time
  • Deadline for submission of full proposal: 22nd September 2023, 13:00 Dublin Local Time
  • Panel review: Late January 2024
  • Funding decision: Late February 2024

Webinar Information

A webinar describing the SFI ARC Hub Programme and its application process took place on Wednesday 14th June 2023.

Please find the webinar slides here or view the webinar below

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ARC Hub Programme Webinar