As we are living through the Covid-19 pandemic, Science Foundation Ireland is more conscious than ever of the importance of supporting the public to have access to and to understand the complex science underpinning crises such as this, in the context of their lives, their health, the health of their loved ones, and the impact it has on our collective future.  In acknowledgement of this, Science Foundation Ireland is launching the SFI Discover Programme Call 2020.

The SFI Discover Programme Call 2020 is a key part of the SFI Education and Public Engagement activity.  Its purpose is to stimulate and support projects that extend activity and ability in engaging the public in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).  Science Foundation Ireland is particularly interested in projects that will broaden the relevance to, and participation of, communities less represented in STEM in society.  This has never been so important. The successful projects/initiatives through this call will support inclusion of that broader group in STEM.  They will contribute to supporting the public to better understand the evidence behind challenges we have collectively faced in 2020 and the choices we need to make in the future.

It is part of Science Foundation Ireland’s role to grow the communities contributing to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and to empower people to shape Ireland’s future through innovation. It is important for Science Foundation Ireland to support growth in the confidence of the Irish public to be informed and reflective on policy and decisions around the societal challenges we face together.

Science Foundation Ireland welcomes contributions from across the sciences, arts, media, education, youth and/or community work sectors. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that create opportunities for broader participation and engagement of the public with STEM. Science Foundation Ireland is keen to push the boundaries of participation and welcomes novel approaches to engaging the public, in ways that are most suited to them.

The aim of the SFI Discover Programme Call 2020 is to support projects that address one or more of the following objectives:

  • Stimulate engagement and curiosity amongst the general public in STEM
  • Create debate and conversation amongst the public on STEM and their appreciation of its impact on society
  • Use new ways to attract those who would not typically engage with STEM
  • Apply STEM engagement and awareness in innovative ways for the benefit of the public e.g. within youth and community work to support youth and community work outcomes.
  • Inspire curiosity and confidence in the scientific method
  • Provide insights into STEM-related careers and discoveries while breaking down any negative stereotypes Support projects which develop capacity for the delivery of STEM Education and Public Engagement (EPE) in Ireland

Date of Publication: Wednesday 16th of April 2020

Closing Date for Receipt of Applications: Wednesday 10th of June 2020 at 13.00 hours (Irish time)

A pre-recorded webinar to support the SFI Discover Programme Call 2020 is available here. If you have any questions regarding the SFI Discover Programme Call 2020 that are not addressed in the webinar, please email these to and we will compile a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to answer these on this webpage.

The Call is open to a wide range of people and organisations, including mediators and practitioners of science communication; STEM festival organisers; universities and institutes of technology, science centres, museums and other cultural attractions; artists; educators; industry professionals and academics in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM); arts agencies; production companies; schools; local authorities (libraries, city/county councils etc.); youth clubs; youth work organisations, community groups; and research institutes.

Partnership projects (between different people and organisations, e.g. scientists and ethicists, educators and artists) are welcomed and encouraged.

Science Foundation Ireland has a list of Eligible Research Bodies (which includes universities, institutes of technology etc.) – check list of Eligible Research Bodies here.

If your organisation is included on this list, then your application must be signed off by the appropriate officer (typically the Research Office) within your organisation using the Eligible Research Body Cover Sheet available on SESAME.

Applications are also welcome from other bodies (i.e. any organisation not included on the above list). There are two categories of other bodies that can become eligible for the SFI Discover Programme Call 2020:

 (a) State Body (e.g. city or county council)

In order to become eligible for the SFI Discover Programme Call 2020, applicants in this category are required to complete, sign, stamp and upload the “Other Bodies - State Body” Cover Sheet available on SESAME.  A senior executive within the organisation is required to sign the cover sheet indicating the organisation’s support for the application.

(b) Other Body (i.e. not an Eligible Research Body or a State Body)

In order to become eligible for the SFI Discover Programme Call 2020, applicants in this category are required to:

  • Complete the “Other Body - Cover Sheet” available on SESAME, providing details of the organisation’s status, registration number, auditors, solicitors and bankers
  • Provide details of the organisation structure detailing positions and names of post holders
  • Provide a copy of the most recent annual report (if appropriate, i.e. if your organisation is required to publish an annual report)
  • Provide a signed copy of the most recent Audited Financial Statements (if applicable)

Please Note: Failure to provide the required eligibility documentation outlined above, and as relevant for your organisation, will result in your application being deemed ineligible and will not be sent for review.

If you have any doubt about your organisation’s status, please email for clarification.This must be done in good time before the closing date (minimum three days) to ensure that your application is completed and submitted before the deadline as no exceptions can be made in relation to the submission date for this, or any other, reason.

Applications are welcome from any organisation with experience in engaging the groups targeted e.g. youth and community work organisations

Applications will not be accepted from individuals and/or sole traders.

No employee or board member of Science Foundation Ireland may apply.

Film, animation or broadcast projects are eligible to apply for funding under this Call.  These projects should clearly indicate the STEM collaborators or experts contributing to the development of the project and outline the role these collaborators will play.  Proposals should also clearly identify how they will be scheduled (shown to the audience) in the proposal, including support from a broadcaster or distribution partner. 

Full information on eligibility can be found in the SFI Discover Call Document (Section 3).

Applications must be submitted via SESAME, Science Foundation Ireland’s Grants Award System. Log-in details are required to access SESAME.

  • If you are already registered on SESAME you can log in using the same email address; if you have forgotten your password, you can use the Forgot Password functionality to re-set it.
  • If you work in a university or institute of technology, please contact your Research Office to ask them to create a profile for you on SESAME.
  • If you have not previously been registered with SESAME, please email the following information to

✔Project Lead Name
✔Email address
✔Registered Company Name
✔Legal Status: (e.g. company limited by guarantee, limited company, charity etc.)
✔Trading Name
✔VAT Number

A SESAME profile will be created for you and log-in details will be emailed to the email address provided.

Science Foundation Ireland’s grants and awards management system, SESAME, is accessed using the Internet; no additional software needs to be installed.  You can access SESAME online from any location.  The configuration of some browsers and internet infrastructure (pop-up blockers, firewalls, etc.) can restrict an individual’s access to the internet and as a result to the SESAME system.  If you are having any such difficulties, please contact your organisation’s IT support team.

Draft applications may be amended as many times as required but once submitted no further changes can be made.

Once submitted, applications cannot be withdrawn and subsequently modified for re-submission in the same Call.

Early submission in SESAME is strongly recommended.  Applicants who wait until shortly before the close of the call take serious risk of encountering submission issues.  The submit button will cease to be active at the indicated deadline.


A User Guide for completion of applications under the SFI Discover Programme Call 2020 on SESAME can be found here.

A template for the annual/final reports for projects funded under the SFI Discover Programme can be found here. Please note: This template is for information purposes only and may be used for collating your data. The final report will be submitted via SESAME and questions may be amended or added.

All applications must now include a completed Gantt chart to outline key deliverables and/or milestones for the project/initiative. A template Gantt chart can be found here. Once you have completed your Gantt chart, please save it in PDF format and upload to your application form on SESAME.

  • Read the Call document and main body of the application form in full before you start to answer any questions - this will ensure that you are fully aware of what you are being asked to do and will help you to avoid duplication in your answers .
  • Remember that the word count is a limit not a goal – not all projects are the same and therefore we encourage you to address each question as succinctly and relevantly as possible for your project.
  • Keep in mind that the reviewers who read your proposal are experts, but you should make sure that your proposal is clear and can be valued by someone who is not as familiar with the proposal as you are.
  • As Science Foundation Ireland only includes international reviewers in this process, ensure that you clearly introduce any acronyms included in your proposal, and upload a glossary to SESAME.
  • Be ambitious but also realistic. Promises that cannot be fulfilled within the time, budget or the chosen approach affect the credibility of the application.
  • Make sure you have clearly identified the need for this project/initiative and are aware of similar projects/initiatives that have been funded in the past.  Reference how you will build on best practice.

If you have any questions regarding the SFI Discover Programme Call 2020 that are not addressed in the webinar or guidance document, please email these to and we will compile a list of FAQs to answer your questions here

Any queries in relation to this call should be emailed to