18th September 2018: Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD today launched the SFI Future Innovator Prize, a new challenge-based prize programme calling on researchers to develop innovative approaches to Ireland’s societal challenges. The SFI Future Innovator Prize, which has a prize award of €1 million, is funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and is part of a wider initiative to foster challenge-based funding in Ireland.  

The programme will incentivise Ireland’s best and brightest unconventional thinkers and innovators to develop novel, potentially disruptive, technologies to address significant societal issues that are of strategic importance and impact to Ireland. 

The programme will encourage the formation of high-performance interdisciplinary teams and place emphasis on collaboration with societal stakeholders and end-users. During 2019, teams will be supported to participate in a highly-competitive phased process that supports development of innovative solutions, culminating in the selection of one winning team that will be awarded a final prize award of €1 million. This prize award will then be used by the winning team to deliver their solution. The Prize will provide academic researchers with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and expertise to deliver significant impact to Irish society, contributing to innovative solutions in a two to three-year timeframe.  

Speaking at the launch of the SFI Future Innovator Prize, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said: “The Future Innovator Prize is a great opportunity to apply the highest quality science and engineering to societal challenges and deliver real impacts. The initiative aligns with our plan for Ireland for the next 20 years, Project 2040, and strongly complements our €500 million Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. Innovative solutions will be central to how we address global challenges and will reinforce Ireland’s position as an innovation hub.” 

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “At Science Foundation Ireland, we consider challenge‐based funding to be of high strategic importance to Ireland, enabling publicly‐funded research to be applied to address significant national and global societal challenges. The SFI Future Innovator Prize will empower innovators to identify challenges and to develop solutions in new unconventional ways. I would encourage highly-motivated teams with diverse backgrounds to apply for this exciting prize.”  

The SFI Future Innovator Prize is open to pioneering solutions that address significant national and global challenges. Thought-leaders across the country are invited to compete for the SFI Future Innovator Prize through generating new ideas, creating disruptive technologies, and sharing knowledge. 

For more information, visit the call webpage or contact innovation@sfi.ie.