This scheme is for outstanding scientists in the Republic of Ireland who are in the early stages of their research career and have the potential to become leaders in their field. Further details can be found here.

The scheme provides the opportunity to build an independent research career. Those appointed are expected to be strong candidates for permanent posts in universities or research bodies at the end of their fellowships.

Successful candidates will be awarded a fellowship by the Royal Society, the cost of which will be met by Science Foundation Ireland. Fellowships are awarded in all fields of the natural sciences which includes but is not limited to biological research, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. Research within the biomedical sciences is now eligible for the University Research Fellowships.

Eligibility requirements

The applicant must:​

  • Have a PhD, applicants who have just submitted their PhD will not be considered.
  • Be at an early stage of their research career with between three to eight years of actual research experience since their PhD (i.e. date on which the degree was approved by the board of graduate studies) by the closing date of the round. Career breaks will be taken into consideration (see below for more details).
  • Not hold a permanent post in a university or not-for-profit organisation.
  • Not hold or previously have held a nationally competitive fellowship that provides an opportunity to establish an independent research group and therefore independent researcher status (see Scheme Notes for more details)

The Scheme is open to candidates of all nationalities. There is no longer a requirement for applicants to be a citizen of or have a relevant connection to the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

When applying, the Society will consider time spent outside the research environment when assessing eligibility. Additionally, where applicants have taken formal periods of maternity, paternity, and adoptive leave as the primary carer (either the mother, father, partner or adopter), or extended sick leave, the Society will allow an additional six months for each period of leave when assessing eligibility.

Applicants should ensure that they meet all the eligibility requirements, which are explained in the scheme notes.


The Society’s fellowships are highly flexible and part-time working, sabbaticals and secondments can be accommodated. There is also provision for maternity, paternity, adoptive or extended sick leave.

Value and tenure

The scheme provides a salary contribution based on the SFI Research Fellow scale (Level 3), and institutional overheads, at 30% of the value of the award (less equipment). Research expenses (up to €15,000 for the first year and up to €13,000 annually thereafter) will also be provided.

Initially funding is provided for five years with the opportunity to apply for an extension of three additional years. The University Research Fellowship provides researchers with maximum flexibility and can be held part-time, and allows sabbaticals, secondments or international experience.

The basic salary requested will be at a level commensurate with the applicant’s skills, responsibilities, expertise and experience, according to Point 1 of the SFI Grants Team Member Budgeting Research Fellow scale (Level 3). For further details see SFI Grant Budget Policy.

Application process

If you have a question about this scheme, please first read the scheme notes which contain more detailed information. If the answer is still not available, you can contact the Royal Society University Research Fellowship team at

SFI advise prospective applicants to use individual and departmental contacts to liaise with current and former URF holders for insights into the application process. View a list of current and former URF holders.

Deadline: 3pm on 28th September 2021

Please note that this is also the deadline for submission of Nominated References and the Head of Department Statements.

Please note all applications should be started on Flexi-Grant® prior to 3pm on Tuesday 7 September 2021.