SFI Research Centres Programme
A key strategic objective for SFI is to position Ireland as a global knowledge leader and develop a set of world-leading, large-scale Research Centres that will provide major economic and societal impact for Ireland. Since launching in 2012, the SFI Research Centres Programme has transformed the research ecosystem in Ireland and enhanced Ireland’s international reputation. Research Centres have delivered research excellence in areas of national priority and are developing a pipeline of talented researchers with critical, in demand skills. They have created an environment where multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary collaborations are now the norm and where indigenous and multinational industries can effectively join and collaborate with these academic networks.
A University of Limerick study led by Prof Helena Lenihan analysed the value of the SFI Research Centres Programme. Importantly, the study found that companies that collaborate with the Centres tend to increase their investment in research and development (R&D), redirecting their R&D spending towards more scientific types of research. The study found that the SFI Research Centres Programme has led to greater potential for breakthrough ideas and disruptive innovations, boosting the Irish economy, making it both more competitive and resilient.
Future of SFI Research Centres Expert Panel Report
The future evolution of the Research Centres programme is a key objective of SFI’s strategy, Shaping Our Future. To aid in this objective, a panel of international experts with was convened in 2021 to advise SFI. This panel engaged with a series of key stakeholders in research, higher education, industry and Government. Informed by these discussions, as well as their direct and considerable experience of international research and innovation systems, the panel produced a report advising on a future model for the Research Centres programme. This report discusses the strengths of the current SFI Research Centres programme and provides a series of recommendations to secure its continued excellence and future evolution.
The full report and recommendations of the expert panel can be found here:
SFI has also prepared a document with considerations of the report and its recommendations, and this can be found here:
SFI Consideration of Expert Panel Report
Future SFI Research Centres Programme
Our overarching vision is the development of a dynamic, cohesive and streamlined ecosystem of Research Centres that are international beacons of scientific excellence, bringing together a critical mass of outstanding researchers to collaborate at a scale that will yield national and international impact. In partnership with industry, government and civil society, Centres will deliver systemic impact, providing talent and innovative solutions to Ireland’s economic, societal and environmental challenges.
The future SFI Research Centres Programme integrates a number of key features and evolutions, developed in response to the expert panel report and stakeholder consultation. These include:
- Excellent research will continue to be the core foundation
- A cohort-based approach to PhD training will be at the core of all funded Centres as well as a focus on researcher career progression across all levels
- As part of efforts to create a more simplified and optimised Research Centres ecosystem, the joining together of existing Centres will be considered, where appropriate
- Future Centres will align to the National Research Priority Areas:
- Digital Technologies
- Energy, Climate Action and Sustainability
- Life Sciences and Health
- Manufacturing and Materials
- Centres will be built on a strong culture of education and public engagement
- Investment in state-of-the-art research infrastructure will be encouraged
- A revised funding leverage model has been developed in accordance with the vision and design principles of the future programme
- Centres will be funded for 8 years to enable a longer-term strategic focus
- The future call will be open to both existing SFI Research Centres and to new applicants.
These topics, and more, were presented in a webinar on 24th May 2023. A recording of this presentation can be viewed on YouTube:
SFI Research Centres Programme 2023 webinar
SFI continues to finalise the development of the upcoming call of the SFI Research Centres programme.
If you would like to provide feedback on the future programme to inform the final programme design, please email: 2023Centres@sfi.ie (mailbox open until 9th June).