The President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme is a recruitment-driven programme designed to attract to Ireland outstanding new and emerging research leaders in all areas of SFI’s legal remit, where candidates may have academic- and/or industry-relevant backgrounds with a focus on research excellence with impact. Candidates are expected to address current gaps in leadership, methodologies and skill sets in specific discipline areas. Candidates may also be recruited to complement and strengthen ongoing activities e.g. SFI Research Centres, or as part of Research Body succession planning for areas which will require leadership in coming years. In addition, candidates who have already demonstrated excellence through other competitive international funding programmes (e.g., through European Research Council schemes) are particularly sought through this call.

The call is open to applicants based outside of Ireland as well as those recently recruited from abroad (i.e., within two years of the Expression of Interest deadline). The applicant must have received their PhD (or equivalent qualification) between three and 15 years prior to the year of this call; that is, on any date from 2003 to 2015. Applicants are expected to have demonstrated research excellence, independence, maturity and leadership by having several important publications without the participation of their PhD supervisor, and should have secured independent research funding and accumulated supervisory experience. It is also expected that the applicant will be of international standing as demonstrated by various indicators of scientific maturity, such as peer review experience, invited keynote talks, international collaboration, conference and workshop organisation, amongst others. The award has a five-year duration and is designed to provide the best setting for award holders to foster their creativity and further develop their leadership role. The recruitment and support of future research leaders will reinforce the national research and enterprise base with outstanding early/mid-career researchers and enhance Ireland’s reputation for its research and innovation. The ambitions of appointed SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme awardees will be consistent with the strategic research direction of the host institutions. 


  • To identify and recruit to Ireland the most promising of a new generation of future research leaders who are top-tier cutting-edge researchers in science or engineering, which will address gaps in leadership in specific discipline areas, enable succession planning in areas which will require leadership in coming years due to retirements, or complement/strengthen ongoing activities (e.g., Research Centres).
  • With the support of the host Research Body, to enable an appropriate environment (support and infrastructure) to assist the awardee in realising their potential and further develop as research leaders.
  • To support excellent scientific and engineering research that has potential impact.
  • To further encourage and promote Ireland’s participation in the international research community and to increase the number of ERC and other Horizon 2020 awards secured by Ireland-based PIs.
  • To maintain Ireland’s top-20 position in international bibliometric rankings through an increase in the number and quality of journal publications.
  • To enable collaborations with academic and industry partners particularly in areas of strategic priority.
  • To increase the proportion of invention disclosures, patents, licenses and spin outs recorded by Ireland that are linked to SFI research.



5 years


Up to €1,000,000 in direct costs. Due to the recruitment-driven focus of this award, applicants may apply for an additional €250,000 to cover start-up costs. General overheads, currently 30% of ‘modified’ total direct costs, should not be included in the requested budget. The start-up costs are not eligible for an overhead contribution.


A contribution of up to 50% of the salary of the applicant is an eligible cost in cases where they will not be in receipt of a full salary from the Research Body. The remainder of the salary must be paid by the host institution and in this situation, the total value of the research award will be up to a maximum of €1,000,000, exclusive of the Research Body’s salary contribution and start-up costs. Where the applicant is already in receipt of a full salary (e.g., they are a permanent member of staff), no salary contribution may be requested. It is the expectation of SFI that the President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme awardee would have moved to a full-time position funded by the host institution by the end of the award. 

Applicant Eligibility

The lead applicant must:

  • Be an outstanding early/mid-career researcher between three and 15 years post-PhD (or equivalent), who has undertaken research in areas aligned to SFI’s legal remit in an overseas academic institution or industry, or who has been recently recruited to Ireland (within two years of the Expression of Interest deadline), and who has demonstrated research excellence, independence and leadership, and shown exceptional potential to become a research leader of the future.   
  • Applicants holding an equivalent qualification may be eligible, but must seek approval from SFI in advance of submitting a proposal
  • The official date of a PhD is defined as the year that the degree was conferred, i.e. the year printed on the official PhD certificate. The number of years is determined by calendar year; thus, those wishing to apply in 2018 to the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme must have been conferred with their PhD degrees on any date between 2003 and 2015;
  • Allowances will be made for documented leave – see Section 2.2.1 of the call document for further details                    
  • Have an outstanding track record commensurate with their field and career stage which includes significant publications (as senior author) in major international peer-reviewed journals and invited presentations at well-established international conferences
  • Have secured independent research funding from competitive publicly funded sources as a lead investigator or co-investigator. The grant must have been competitively awarded and internationally peer reviewed. Eligible research grants would be expected to support at least one full-time equivalent, excluding the applicant(s), and include research team costs (e.g., materials and consumables). This excludes smaller awards such as travel grants, equipment grants, postgraduate fellowships, postdoctoral fellowships, and awards of short duration (12 months or less). Laboratory fit-out/setup funding, awards from the applicant’s institution, and awards that have not been subject to external international peer review are also excluded. Evidence to support the validity of an award may be requested.
  • Have accumulated supervisory experience of Masters-level and/or PhD students.
  • Have demonstrated international standing (e.g., peer review, keynote talks, collaboration, conference and workshop organisation, etc.) as indicators of scientific maturity, in addition to potentially demonstrated capability of working collaboratively with private enterprise.
  • Be an individual who will be recognised by the Research Body upon receipt of the SFI award as an independent investigator who will have an independent office and research space at the host Research Body for which s/he will be fully responsible for at least the duration of the SFI grant.
  • Be submitting an Expression of Interest to the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme for the first time, or making their first resubmission; only one resubmission of an Expression of Interest to this programme is permissible. Applications from individuals who have already submitted two Expressions of Interest will not be reviewed.

As this programme is aimed at attracting a new generation of research leaders to Ireland, applicants may not hold a significant SFI award such as an SFI Investigators Programme award (including Investigator Awards or Projects), Stokes Professorship or Lectureship, Research Professorship, SFI PIYRA, SFI FRL, SFI SIRG or SFI CDA, nor should they have received an SFI Research Centre award as a lead investigator or co-PI.

Research Body submission confirms that the lead applicant meets the above criteria and is either a member of the academic staff, or awaiting appointment as defined above. 

Key Dates

  • SESAME opens for applications:           29th May 2018
  • Expression of Interest Deadline:            3rd August 2018; 13:00 Dublin local time
  • Proposal Submission Deadline:             8th November 2018; 13:00 Dublin local time


Application Procedure


The deadline for applications to the President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme is the 3rd August, 13:00 Dublin local time. The programme consists of a two-stage submission process encompassing a three-stage review. Applicants who are successful at the Expression of Interest stage will be invited to submit a full proposal in advance of a deadline on the 8th November, 13:00 Dublin local time. Applicants whose full proposal receives excellent reviews will be invited for interview. Interviews will comprise a presentation followed by a question-and-answer session, which will be undertaken by an international review panel. 

Candidate nominations:

A potential candidate for the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme can contact any Irish Research Body and request consideration by the institution to be nominated. Applicants must submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) and, if successful, will be invited to submit a full proposal. The Expression of Interest (EoI) should be submitted to SFI by the applicant's proposed host Research Body.


Full details on the proposal and submission requirements may be found in the proposal call. Please read the documentation carefully in advance of queries and submission:

  • Call for proposals (pdf)
  • Frequently Asked Questions (pdf)
  • Applicant CV template (Word)

SFI reserves the right to make amendments to the documents if required. Please ensure that you are referring to the most recent version of the Call document and FAQs. Research Offices will be contacted in the event of any updates to the call documentation.


As detailed in the SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme call, all proposals are to be submitted via SESAME, SFI’s online grants and awards management system.

SESAME is accessible online: please click here.

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

The SESAME information web page is available here, and the SESAME Researcher User Guide can be found here.

Questions specific to SESAME are answered on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the SESAME system.

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. For Programme related queries please contact