The Strategic Partnership Programme is a flexible mechanism for academic researchers to build strategic collaborations with key stakeholders such as industry, other funding agencies, charities, philanthropic organisations, higher education institutes (HEIs), or a combination of any of these. The scheme aims to support stand-alone research initiatives of scale with strong potential for delivering economic and societal impact to Ireland, in partnership with key stakeholders.

The Strategic Partnership Programme is one strand available to build collaborations with key partners, funding excellent science that benefits society and the economy. If your potential partnership does not appear to fit with the requirements of this programme, please contact to discuss whether there may be other opportunities available. 

The co-funding partner(s) must commit to providing a minimum of 50% of the direct project costs in cash. The SFI budget for the Strategic Partnership must be a minimum of €400,000 meaning the total award size (SFI and co-funding partner budget) is a minimum of €800,000 (direct costs). There is no maximum request level. 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). 

  • To build strategic national, and international partnerships to drive economic impact and to address societal challenges 
  • To build stronger, more direct relationships with co-funding partners from industry, charity and academia 
  • To transfer technology, through licences, to Multinational Companies (MNCs) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)  
  • To support enhanced training of researchers in areas of importance to the industrial sector 
  • To maximise the state investment in research through leveraging of non-exchequer funding, including funding available through philanthropic and charitable sources 
  • To enable alliances with industry/charity/philanthropy that enhance competitiveness in securing European funding  
  • To support the development of test beds of national strategic importance that harnesses academic knowledge with industrial know-how and experience 
  • To support the attraction and retention of talented researchers 
  • To build stronger links with other key stakeholders and end-users of research 
  • To engage the general public and equip them with the tools to confidently participate in, understand and debate science, technology and engineering research in Ireland   

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

  1. The research should be oriented basic or applied; and
  2. 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 Strategic Partnership Programme call document. In summary the Lead Applicant, Co-Applicant(s) and Funded Investigator(s) must:

  • Be a member of the academic staff (permanent or with a contract that covers the period of the grant), or

A contract researcher with a contract that covers the period of the grant, who is recognised by the Research Body as an independent investigator and will have an independent office and research space at the host Research Body for which the researcher will be fully responsible for at least the duration of the SFI grant, or  

An individual who will be recognised by the Research Body upon receipt of the SFI grant as a member of the academic staff or as a contract researcher as defined above. The applicant does not necessarily need to be employed by the Research Body at the time of proposal submission.  ​

  • Have held a PhD or equivalent qualification for at least three years by full proposal submission.
  • Have been a senior author on at least three international peer-reviewed articles.  
  • Have the experience, capability and authority to mentor and supervise postgraduate students and team members.   
  • Be hosted by an Eligible Research Body. A list of Eligible Research Bodies is available here

SFI strongly encourages woman candidates to apply to this programme. 

The SFI Strategic Partnership Programme call is an open, non-thematic call with no submission deadline. 

Applications to the Strategic Partnership Programme consist of a 2-stage process. Interested parties are requested to complete an Expression of Interest (EoI), as outlined in the call document. Potential applicants to the programme should contact SFI ( to discuss their proposed programme of research and any queries they may have. The EoI application template will be made available to the Lead Applicant on SESAME following these discussions.  

EoIs will be reviewed by SFI. Applicants who submit EoIs that are reviewed positively will be invited to submit a full proposal application, which will be evaluated by international peer review.   

Expression of Interest and Full Proposal applications to the Strategic Partnership Programme 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. For more information on SESAME see here


Science Foundation Ireland permits Strategic Partnership awardees to apply for second-term funding under the programme, where an additional term of funding is strongly justified.  

Though the programme objectives of a Strategic Partnership second-term funding award will remain largely the same, there is an expectation that the ambition and scale of the award will increase. The proposed programme of research should represent a significant step-change and build on the success of the first-term award but not be viewed simply as a continuation of the same research programme.  

The review process will involve a detailed “look back” at the progress of the first-term of the Strategic Partnership award compared with the original objectives, in addition to a review of the proposal for second-term funding and the justification/rationale of the need for a second-term. 

Case Studies

Click below to find out about current and past partnerships funded by the SFI Strategic Partnership Programme: