SFI’s Agenda 2020 strategy aims to position Ireland as a global knowledge leader. A key objective of this strategy is to develop a set of world-leading, large-scale Research Centres that will provide major economic impact for Ireland. The SFI Research Centres Programme was launched in 2012 to achieve this objective by creating new Research Centres and building on previously-made significant large scale investments (e.g. CSETs, SRCs). Seven Research Centres were funded as a result of the first Research Centres Call in 2012, and five were funded as a result of the second Call in 2013. To view details on the exsisting SFI Research Centres, please visit SFI Research Centres webpage.

A key feature of SFI Research Centres is the consolidation of research activities across higher education institutes to create a critical mass of internationally leading researchers in strategic areas which become a key attractant to industry and lay the foundation for effective and productive academic and industrial partnerships. Additionally, these centres will be excellent, relevant, sustainable, and will serve as international beacons for attracting talent and leveraging non-Exchequer funding with particular emphasis on industry and Horizon 2020. The goal of SFI, in partnership with its sister agencies and departments, is to develop a dynamic Research Centre ecosystem that can evolve to meet the changing needs of industry and society. SFI Research Centres funded under the forthcoming call will contribute significantly to achieving this and as such, are expected to integrate with other SFI- and non-SFI-funded Centres, where appropriate, to maximise capabilities, outputs and industry offerings.

The 2016 SFI Research Centres Call will operate on a non-thematic basis, and will accept applications aligned with all areas of SFI’s legal remit.

Objectives of the Research Centres Programme

  • To achieve, maintain and enhance research excellence and leadership, as measured through indicators such as publication in top-tier journals and conferences, citations, editorship of top-tier journals, and giving invited lectures at top-tier conferences,
  • To deliver significant economic and societal impact – research excellence with impact – which will be aligned with areas of strategic opportunity for Ireland, including the 14 National Research Priority areas and including the six broad enterprise themes (ICT, manufacturing & materials, heath & medical,  food, energy, and services & business processes) outlined in Innovation 2020 - Ireland's Strategy for Research and Development, Science and Technology
  • To increase the level of industrial and commercial investment in R&D activities with existing Ireland-based companies, and furthermore to attract large Foreign Direct Investments in corporate R&D laboratories
  • To spin out new, high-technology start-up companies that have the potential to raise external angel or venture funding
  • To transfer technology, through licences, to Multinational Companies (MNCs) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) based in Ireland
  • To transfer knowledge, expertise and know-how to MNCs and SMEs based in Ireland.
  • To undertake joint research projects with industry
  • To inspire the future generation of STEM students and train and educate a cohort of engineers and scientists at MSc/MEng, PhD and post-doctoral level that will take up high-value employment in MNCs and SMEs based in Ireland
  • To attract additional non-Exchequer funding through industry sources and external research-funding organisations
  • To engage the general public and equip them with the tools to confidently understand and debate science, technology and engineering research in Ireland 


Duration: 6 years

Award size: €1-5 million per annum in direct costs

Note that SFI will fund up to 70% of the overall Research Centre budget.  A minimum of 30% of the Centre budget must be secured from industry, at least one-third of which must be cash.


The 2016 SFI Research Centres Call will operate on a non-thematic basis, and will accept applications aligned with all areas of SFI’s legal remit. Proposals will be accepted in areas which are sufficiently distinct from existing SFI-funded Research Centres. Proposals focussed in research areas which are not sufficiently distinct from existing SFI-funded Research Centres are likely to be returned without review. Applicants are encouraged to consider submitting such proposals, in collaboration with existing Research Centres, to the SFI Spokes Programme.

Key dates

Information event: January 2016 (details to follow)

Webinar:  27nd January 2016, 15:00 local time

Deadline for submission of abstract*:  4th March 2016, 13:00 local time

Deadline for submission of pre-proposals: 28th April 2016, 13:00 local time  

Deadline for submission of full proposals: 2nd November 2016, 13:00 local time

*Note that applicant groups intending to submit a pre-proposal to this call must email a proposal title and 200-word abstract to centres@sfi.ie by the stated deadline.


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

Call for Proposals (pdf)
Abstract Sheet (word)
Pre-proposal Programme Document template (word)
Pre-proposal Budget template (Excel)
Frequently Asked Questions (pdf

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 Research Centres 2016 Programme Call for Proposals, all proposals are to be submitted via SESAME, SFI’s online grants and awards management system.

If accessing SESAME for the first time, researchers should contact their local Research Office to be set up on this system. Please note that the Research Centres 2016 Call is now accessible on SESAME.

SESAME information web page.

Queries on the SESAME management system should first be directed to your Institution’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 centres@sfi.ie.


SFI held a webinar on Wednesday 27th January 2016 to discuss the main points of the SFI Centres Programme 2016.

View the Webinar slides (PDF)

View a recording of the Webinar below:

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SFI Research Centres Programme 2016 Call Webinar