Science Foundation Ireland’s Grant Budget Policy (GBP) describes budgetary provisions and requirements governing the submission of applications (proposals) to, and the allocation of Grants awarded under, SFI-led ‘Research’ Programme Calls.
SFI acknowledges that, following the award of a Grant, the approved budget may need to be modified over time. As such, it is recognised that a certain degree of flexibility in the design of revised budgets is required to best achieve the objectives of the funded Research Programme or that prescribed by external experts following a ‘remote’ or ‘on-site’ progress review. Where budget revisions necessitate SFI’s approval (see provisions in the Letter of Offer), such revisions may be considered permissible, provided that they are appropriately justified within the terms of the corresponding Letter of Offer, SFI's Grant General Terms and Conditions, SFI's guidance on Budget Reallocations and any other relevant guidance or policy.
- SFI Grant Budget Policy: Last Updated March 2023
- SFI Team Member Salary Scales: Last Updated October 2022
Revised salary contribution scales reflect increases under "Building Momentum - A New Public Service Agreement 2021-2022", issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Revised salary scales will take immediate effect and should be used in the preparation of applications submitted to SFI. For multi-annual grant applications, applicants should include future increases in their budget requests. Applicants should consider realistic start dates when estimating costs and should contact SFI well in advance of call deadlines where they have specific questions relating to budget preparation. Applicants are reminded to consult with their Research and Finance Offices in the preparation of their budgets. All budgets must be endorsed by the applicant’s Research Body prior to submission.
SFI recognises the value of geographical, intersectoral, inter- and trans-disciplinary and virtual mobility, as well as mobility between the public and private sector, as an important means of sharing scientific knowledge, advancing research endeavours and supporting professional development at any stage of a Researcher’s career. However, it is the responsibility of every individual and organisation to recognise the impact of travel-related carbon emissions on the environment. As such, SFI has introduced Guidance for Sustainable Travel, which applicants are requested to review when preparing their budgets and Grant holders are guided to consult with, when considering their travel arrangements.
1. Guidelines for preparing a Research Infrastructure Access Charge Plan
Last Updated: June 2016
Science Foundation Ireland recognises the importance of sustainability planning to enable research bodies to maintain research infrastructure. It is therefore critical that maximum usage of infrastructure is planned, and an appropriate access charge plan is put in place.
In order to support widespread infrastructural sustainability within the Irish STEM research community, Science Foundation Ireland allows grant applications under its various programmes to include requests for infrastructure access charges to support research programme aims. However, the Foundation will only fund Research Body-managed infrastructure charges once a pre-approved access charge plan is in place. These Research Infrastructures could be SFI funded; however, the Foundation will also accept the submission of access charge plans for non-SFI funded Research Infrastructure. Please note that once access charge plans are approved, the Foundation will not apply access charges retrospectively to its awarded grants.
2. SFI Approved Access Charges
Last Updated: January 2018
Access charges may be sought for use of infrastructure where SFI pre-approved access charge plans are in place. In Grant applications, access-charge requests must be included as a separate line item in the materials & consumables section of the budget and where relevant must include the infrastructure grant code (where relevant) and name of the relevant infrastructure to be used.
Charges for access to facilities and services not directly available to the applicant, such as the costs associated with commissioning specific experiments in research facilities and National Testbeds (e.g. ICHEC, Tyndall, CRANN etc.) may be requested where SFI pre-approved access charge plans are in place and/or where strongly justified.
A listing of current SFI Approved Access Charge plans and associated key contacts can be found within their approved document.
The previous SFI Approved Access Charge plans can be found within their approved document.
Any queries relating to access charges should be addressed to email@example.com
SFI may authorise a budget reallocation of the approved budget to assure successful completion of the original scientific objectives of a funded programme. A budget reallocation is not required to be submitted to SFI where the following reallocations of the approved budget are proposed:
(a) The Researcher wishes to move funds between the categories Staff, Consumables and Travel, up to a value of €20,000 of the calendar year allocation for each category.
(b) The Researcher wishes to move funds between calendar years up to a value of €20,000, based on the total budget for all categories in each calendar year.
A budget allocation is, however, required to be submitted to SFI where the following reallocations of the approved budget are proposed:
(c) Moving amounts in excess of €20,000 to or from any category, or to or from any calendar year must be requested through the submission of a Budget Reallocation Request and must have the prior written approval of the Foundation.
(d) Movement of any funds to or from the Equipment category.
Any budget reallocation must be clearly justified in the context of the scientific goals of the funded programme and must not exceed the direct costs budget approved in the Letter of Offer or extend past the approved expiry date of the award.
A request for a budget reallocation should be made prior to committing or incurring expenditure, in excess of that allowed in the Letter of Offer. All requests for Budget Reallocations must be submitted on-line using SESAME, the SFI Grants Management system. The Award Holder generates the budget reallocation request using SESAME. All requests for a Budget reallocation must be approved by the Finance and Research Office of the Host Institution via SESAME. The Research office submits the Budget Reallocation request to SFI for processing. All Budget Reallocation request must be approved by an SFI Programme Officer and by the SFI Finance and Operations Office. All approvals will be processed using SESAME.
View Module 12 of the Researcher User Guide for SESAME Award Management System for completing Budget Reallocations
Please note that the SFI Terms and Conditions of the original grant approval will still apply. Once approval is granted, notification will be sent by e-mail to the Award Holder, the Finance office and Research office of the Host Institution. Grantees are cautioned not to make commitments or incur expenditures in the Category or Year to which you wish to reallocate funds, in excess of those allowed in your Letter of Offer, in anticipation of a Budget Reallocation being approved.
Any questions in advance of submitting a Budget Reallocation should be directed to the SFI Programme Officer managing the award.
SFI may authorise a one-time extension of the expiration date of a grant if additional time beyond the Letter of Offer Award End Date is required to assure completion of the original scientific scope of work within the funds already made available. Usually this no-cost extension (NCE) will be granted for up to 6 months, but additional time may be granted if justified and warranted.
A request for NCE should be made when there are typically 3-6 months remaining on the award to allow for appropriate and timely planning but SFI will accept applications outside of this time frame if required by the Award Holder. The award holders should request a NCE for all awards using SESAME, the new SFI Grants Management system.
Procedures for processing a NCE
The Award Holder generates the NCE request using SESAME. All requests for a NCE must be approved by the Finance and Research Office of the Host Institution via SESAME. The Research office submits the NCE request to SFI for processing. Any NCE request must be approved by an SFI Programme Officer and by the SFI Finance and Operations Office. All approvals will be processed using SESAME. As appropriate, if approval is granted, notification will be sent on-line to the Award Holder, the Finance office and Research office of the Host Institution.
There is a SESAME user guide for Researchers on the SFI Website to assist Researchers on using SESAME. See Module 12 of the Researcher User Guide for SESAME Award Management System for completing a NCE.
The following information should be provided when applying for a No Cost Extension:
- Justification for Extension: a strong scientific rationale explaining the need for the extension period. The fact that funds may remain at the expiration of the grant is not in itself sufficient justification for an extension. The plan must adhere to the previously approved objectives of the project.
- Projected funds remaining after the current expiration date: budget figures should be provided which accurately record the level of funding projected to be remaining after the current expiration date on the award.
- Spend plan during period of extension: an outline of the proposed budget breakdown into categories salary, equipment, materials & consumable, and travel during the requested period of extension. Please note that a request can be made to move funds from their existing category but any such request must be made via a Budget Reallocation Request submitted on SESAME.
Please note that the SFI Terms and Conditions of the original grant approval still apply during the period of No Cost Extension.
Once a NCE is approved for an award, written approval will specify a new expiration date and will be communicated by e-mail to the researcher , the Finance and Research Offices of the Host Institution. Grantees are cautioned not to make new commitments or incur new expenditures after the original expiration date in anticipation of a No Cost Extension. Any questions in advance of submitting a No Cost Extension Request should be directed to the SFI Scientific Programme Manager managing the award.
In order to support students who have experienced unexpected delays in research progress, health issues, or other significant obstacles, SFI may authorise budget reallocations to support a one-time extension to the duration of PhD stipend payments.
Please note that when applying for such an extension no personal or medical information should be given to SFI.
In order to extend the duration of an SFI funded PhD stipend, the following must apply:
- the extension does not exceed 4 months, unless there are extenuating circumstances (e.g. illness)
- the reason for the extension is fully justified
- the extension does not go beyond the term of the grant. It is permissible to apply for a no-cost extension to cover the extended PhD term.
- the PhD student remains supervised and supported by the PI and registered with the Research Body as a full-time student for the duration of the extension
- SFI grant funds cannot be used to contribute towards fees beyond the 48-month term, i.e., for the period encompassing the extension. It is expected that any fees applicable during the extension period will be waived/covered by the host research body. SFI will require written assurance from the PI confirming that the student themselves will not be responsible for covering the cost of the fees.
It is permitted to charge Irish Residency Permit (IRP) and mandatory health insurance costs to the grant to cover the period of the extension and up until the date of the viva. If the visa and/or health insurance renewal dates are before the viva dates, it is permitted to charge the full 12 months cost to the grant. (E.g. if a student has an IRP card renewal due, for example August 2023, with a viva date in January 2024, it is acceptable to charge the full 12 month rate to the grant).
Procedure for applying for a PhD Extension
Award holders should contact the SFI Scientific Programme Manager of the relevant award by email providing the following:
- Justification for Extension: The brief justification should outline the reason(s) for requesting an extension and detail how long the extension is for. The justification should include a projected timeline for PhD completion (including estimated submission and viva date). No personal or medical information should be given to SFI.
- Funding Availability: The PI should provide an assessment on the availability of funds to support the extension. In addition, the PI must provide written confirmation that the student themselves will not be responsible for covering the cost of any fees that may apply to the extension.