SFI is committed to supporting and developing early- and mid-career researchers to become excellent, fully independent research leaders and offers a suite of funding opportunities to help facilitate this transition, including support for those who are transitioning to independence, transitioning to leadership as well as supporting more established researcher leaders. The SFI Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) Programme aims to support excellent postdoctoral researchers and others who are yet to hold an independent research post in taking the initial steps towards a fully independent research career.

The SIRG award provides an opportunity for excellent early-career-stage investigators to carry out their own research project in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that underpin SFI’s legal remit. The award provides a contribution to the salary for the Starting Investigator (SI) and also provides funding for a postgraduate student, who will be primarily supervised by the SI. The SI will work with an associated mentor, who will provide the necessary support and infrastructure for the project to take place.

Objectives of the SIRG Programme

  • To provide a mechanism for Irish Research Bodies to attract and recruit excellent early career researchers.
  • With the support of the host research body, to enable excellent early career stage researchers to establish themselves as independent investigators.
  • To support excellent scientific/engineering research that has potential impact.
  • To further encourage and promote Ireland’s participation in the international research community and to increase the number of ERC and H2020 awards secured by Ireland-based PIs.
  • To maintain Ireland’s top 20 position in international bibliometric rankings through an increase in the number and quality of journal publications.
  • To contribute to improving gender balance in the higher education sector.

The applicant

  • The applicant will be a researcher with at least three years, but not more than eight years of research experience beyond their PhD, or equivalent. Please note that those applicants with PhD conferrals in 2015 i.e. whereby the date as written on the PhD certificate is in 2015 are eligible to apply to SIRG 2018.
  • The applicant must demonstrate a proven record of internationally recognised research accomplishments.
  • The applicant must be senior author first, last or corresponding) on at least three primary research articles (that is, not reviews nor other secondary research articles) in international peer-reviewed publications.
  • The applicant must not hold or have held a significant, independent internationally peer reviewed research award of greater than one-year duration. In addition, this previous award must not have had a total value in excess of €100,000 (or equivalent) direct costs. Personal awards, including student and postdoctoral fellowships, travel awards, and bursaries of greater than one-year duration are permissible, so long as their value was not greater than €100,000 per annum.
  • The applicant must not have previously held or be currently employed on a faculty contract.
  • The SI must have an identified mentor, who has agreed to allow the SI and postgraduate student to carry out research within their laboratory space for the duration of the award.

Institutional approval

To be eligible to submit a proposal to the SIRG 2018 call, you must first be approved by the Research Office of the host institution in which you wish to carry out your SIRG-funded project. Research Offices will be expected to instigate a procedure to select candidates for this call. Those wishing to apply to the SIRG 2018 call should first contact their intended host institution, informing the Research Office about their identity and credentials (curriculum vitae), the identity of their chosen mentor, and an outline of their intended research plan.


The maximum SIRG award amount is €425,000 direct costs over a period of four years and covers the salary of the SI and the stipend and fees of a postgraduate student. Please refer to the Programme Call Document for further details. SFI welcomes applications from female researchers and engineers.

Key dates

The 2018 Starting Invesitgator Research Grant Programme will have two deadlines.

  • Notification of Research Body's approved candidates: 13:00h (local time Dublin, Ireland) on the 22nd February 2018.
  • Second Full-proposal Deadline: 13:00h (local time Dublin, Ireland) on the 29th of March 2018.

How to apply 

All proposals are to be submitted via SESAME, SFI’s online grants and awards management system. SESAME will be accessible online for this call starting from January 2018.


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

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.


  • SIRG 2018 Webinar: SFI hosted a webinar on Friday 19th January from 14.00 - 15.00 which outlined the details of the SIRG programme.
  • Impact Webinar: SFI have recorded a webinar designed to assist applicants to SFI Programme calls in formulating their impact statement.
  • SIRG 2015 Webinar: SFI hosted a webinar on Wednesday 1st July from 13.00 - 14.00 which outlined the details of the SIRG programme.

Other funding opportunities

View other funding opportunities for early and mid-career researchers.