The SFI Spokes programme is a vehicle to enable the addition of new industrial and academic partners and projects to existing SFI Research Centres, allowing the Centre(s) to expand and develop in line with new priorities and opportunities, and enhances the ability of SFI Research Centres to deliver significant economic and societal impact for Ireland.

The Spokes programme also provides a vehicle to link together, in a meaningful and relevant way, SFI Research Centres, and helps to link researchers in partnerships across academia, industry and other co-funding partners, to address crucial research questions, contributing to Ireland’s economy through fostering development of indigenous companies and attracting FDI, together with addressing research questions of national societal importance. 

SFI will support a maximum of 50% of funding of the direct project costs. The co-funding partner(s) must commit to providing a minimum of 50% of the direct project costs in cash. Co-funding partner ‘in kind’ contributions should be specified in the application but cannot be counted towards the required 50% cash contribution from the co-funding partner(s).

Co-funding partners for Spoke applications are typically industry partners, but can also include sources such as funding from charities and philanthropic organisations. In addition, and where strongly justified, exchequer funding may be considered as part of the Spoke cost-share and this will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In such cases, the total exchequer funding should not exceed 50% (inclusive of the SFI contribution), except in exceptional cases where the exchequer co-funding partner.

The Spokes programme serves to enhance the objectives of the Research Centres programme around research excellence with economic and societal impacts, leading to enhanced outputs for the centre(s) including diversified funding, commercialisation, education & public engagement and training, in addition to increasing the number of targeted projects within an existing SFI Research Centre.

The specific objectives of the SFI Spokes programme are:  

  • To support and incentivise SFI Research Centres to drive activity in a collaborative manner in areas of national strategic importance, both in the context of economic recovery and growth, as well as with a societal focus, to deliver tangible benefits for Ireland. 
  • To provide a mechanism to support multi-stakeholder partnerships of scale with SFI Research Centres, encompassing a variety of funding sources, enabling new industry, academic and other partners such as government bodies, charity and philanthropy to join a Research Centre, and to increase geographical involvement and engagement. 
  • To provide a mechanism to drive cross-centre initiatives between the SFI Research Centres as well as with other national partnerships/centres in support of a more cohesive research ecosystem.
  • To allow current SFI Research Centres to expand, evolve and build capabilities in line with emerging opportunities.
  • To support joint collaborative research projects with industry.*
  • To improve SME engagement in SFI Research Centres and collaboration with academics and larger companies.  
  • To address gender imbalance at all levels within the SFI Research Centres.

* The project must have the characteristics of an ‘effective collaboration’ as set out in paragraph 27 of the European Commission’s Framework for State aid for research and development and innovation (2014/C 198/01) (the “Framework”) and satisfy one of the conditions set out in paragraphs 28 and 29 (as appropriate) of the Framework. State Aid Guidance

Research carried out in this call must be aligned to SFI’s legal remit:

  • The research should be oriented basic or applied; and
  • The research should align with one of the 6 Refreshed Priority Themes for 2018-2023 or with any other area where there is convincing evidence that there will be significant potential for economic and/or societal impact in Ireland.

Full details on programme eligibility are available in the SFI Spokes Programme call document. In summary:

Applications to the Spokes programme may only be made by Centre Directors of SFI-funded Research Centres. Applications cannot be submitted directly by co-funding partners. The award will be administered by the host Research Body of the lead Research Centre involved but can involve other Research Bodies who are involved in the Research Centre(s). The Lead Applicant, who is the Centre Director of the lead Research Centre involved in the Spoke, will have overall responsibility and accountability for carrying out the research within the funding limits awarded and in accordance with the terms and conditions of SFI.

The Spoke Leader is defined as the Scientific and Technical lead for the proposed Spoke and will have responsibility for the delivery of the objectives of the proposed Spoke. The Spoke Leader will serve as the primary point of contact for SFI on the award, during the review process, and if successful, during the course of the award. The Spoke Leader will have a well-defined, critical and a continuing role in the proposed Spoke and will provide the leadership for the Spoke proposed in the application and for the duration of the award. The Spoke Leader may be a Centre Director, an existing Research Centre investigator or a new academic partner. Spoke Leader(s) will be designated as a Co-Applicant on a Spokes proposal. 

A Co-Applicant has a well-defined, critical and continuing role in the proposed Spoke. There is no limit to the number of Co-Applicants but the number should be commensurate with the size and complexity of the proposed Spoke project.

The Spoke Leader and all Co-Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the call document.

The Spokes programme operates under two application tracks:

  • Single-centre – where 1 SFI Research Centre is involved.
  • Multi-centre – where more than 1 SFI Research Centre is involved. For multi-centre Spoke applications, a lead centre must be nominated, and the Spoke Lead Applicant will be the Centre Director of the assigned lead centre. There is no limit to the number of SFI Research Centres that can be involved in a Spoke application.

The SFI Spokes Programme call is an open, rolling call with no submission deadline.

The SFI Spokes Programme call is an open, non-thematic call with no submission deadline. Potential applicants to the programme should contact SFI ( to discuss their proposed project and any queries they may have.

Applicants to the Spokes Programme must submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) prior to the submission of a full application. EoI submission is by invitation only and through SESAME, SFI’s online grants and awards management system. Applicants who submit EoIs that are reviewed positively by SFI will be invited to submit a full application which will be evaluated by international peer review. 

Proposals submitted to the Spokes Call are expected to be characterised by their high level of strategic importance and urgency to both the Research Centre(s) and co-funding partners. The following should be noted regarding the evaluation of applications to the Spokes Call:

  • Timing of the application submission is determined by the applicants and not SFI.
  • SFI endeavours to fast-track the review process, where possible.
  • Assessment of the proposal is on its own merit and not in competition with other proposals.

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.