SFI’s internationally-focused programmes and initiatives help to develop links with top international research institutions and enterprise markets, in addition to reinforcing Ireland’s standing as a top-class research-performing nation. 

The agency’s international policy seeks to support Agenda 2020, SFI’s strategy for 2013–2020, which sets out a vision of a “preferred future” in which Ireland in 2020 is the best country in the world for scientific research excellence and impact. Agenda 2020 is underpinned by the desire to strengthen and improve Ireland’s international reputation and collaboration, through the continuing support of excellence in research.

SFI’s international strategy is based around seven inter-related areas of activity, all underpinned by international collaboration:

  • Develop industrial and academic linkages in IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland’s key target markets
  • Strengthen links with relevant international IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland offices
  • Recruit high-calibre researchers to Ireland
  • Facilitate collaborations with world-class centres of research excellence
  • Raise international awareness and recognition of Irish science and high-quality research
  • Leverage SFI funding to secure funding from international sources, with a particular emphasis on supporting researchers to access EU funding and networks
  • Learn from other countries that have focused on R&D and innovation as key national policies

SFI works closely with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Enterprise Ireland (EI) and IDA Ireland in implementing this strategy.


SFI already has joint funding schemes with several UK funders, including UK Research and Innovation, the Royal Society and Wellcome Trust. These programmes have been strengthened and broadened. In November 2018 SFI held the first joint UK-Irish Research Funder’s Forum, bringing together each nation’s major public research and innovation funders to discuss how we might work collaboratively. It was agreed that these meetings will be an annual event. In line with the national approach to Brexit preparedness we are working on various initiatives.

SFI will strengthen its research funding collaborations with the UK and Northern Ireland with the aim of ensuring that the Irish research community are well-positioned for the post Brexit scenario, where Britain will continue to be a world-leader for innovation and R&D.

SFI aim to develop an Ireland-UK co-funded PhD studentship scheme that fosters collaboration between Ireland’s higher education institutes and the top universities in the UK.

With the onset of Brexit some researchers may be considering relocating to another European country. SFI have appropriate recruitment schemes to facilitate researchers to relocate their research operations to Irish universities. SFI is particularly keen in attracting globally-renowned researchers to relocate and so offer these researchers certain access to EU funding. This can take the form of either internationally-based researchers co-locating to Ireland and the UK and holding a joint-professorship appointment or can involve a UK-based researcher re-locating all or part of their research operation to Ireland.

SFI and the National Support Structure for Horizon 2020 will also support Irish researchers to diversify their alliances with other EU-based researchers. SFI will scope medium and long-term opportunities for Ireland and Irish researchers with an emphasis on identifying EU consortia where opportunities arise for integration of an Irish research group.

SFI will increase the intensity and targeting of promotion of SFI’s relevant programmes to UK-based researchers through a focused advertising and PR campaign.