Minister Simon Harris announces a €23 million call through the SFI and the IRC to support early career researchers in Ireland

The SFI-IRC Pathway Programme will support talented postdoctoral researchers from all research disciplines to develop their track record and transition to become independent research leaders.  

To apply for this programme click here

The programme welcomes research proposals from any discipline within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (AHSS). Applications of an interdisciplinary nature which draw together insights and approaches from one or more research disciplines will also be welcomed. The maximum funding request permitted under the SFI-IRC Pathway Programme is €425,000 direct costs over a period of four years which includes a contribution to the salary of the applicant, and the stipend and fees for a PhD student. Please refer to the Programme Call Document for further details.  

Potential applicants, meeting the programmes eligibility criteria, wishing to apply to the SFI-IRC Pathway Programme 2021 call must first seek pre-approval from an eligible research body. Once SFI and the IRC have received a research body’s approved candidate list in advance of the deadline (28th May 2021), nominated candidates will then be invited to submit a full proposal. SFI and the IRC recognises the continued need for equality, diversity and inclusivity across the research ecosystem, and are committed to addressing the gender imbalance within the higher education sector by increasing the number of grants held by female researchers. To this end, each research body may nominate a maximum of 16 STEM-led and 8 AHSS-led applications. No more than eight of the 16 STEM-led, and four of the 8 AHSS-led, nominated applications may be from male candidates. Upon submission to SFI and IRC all applications will be treated equally regardless of the gender of the applicant.

Programme Objectives

  • To enable talented post-doctoral researchers to develop their track record and establish themselves as independent investigators, with support of their host institution. 
  • To provide a mechanism for Irish Higher Education Institutes to retain excellent early career researchers from all disciplines and support their development towards becoming research leaders of the future. 
  • To fund excellent research with potential impact across all disciplines. 
  • To contribute to further development of the Higher Education system through knowledge creation, training, and skill development. 
  • To support early career researchers in securing non-Exchequer funding and developing their network through the European Research Area. 
  • To increase female representation in the higher education sector and promote alignment with international policies including research assessment, Open Science and Equality, diversity, and inclusion. 
  • To contribute to a cohesive research ecosystem in Ireland and support SFI and IRC in achieving their strategic objectives, as described in the strategic plan for each agency. 

Full details on programme eligibility are available in the call document. In summary, applicants should have demonstrated a proven record of internationally recognised research accomplishments and adhere to the following eligibility criteria: 

  • The applicant must have held a PhD or equivalent qualification for at least two years at proposal submission. 
  • Applicants must have an identified mentor, who has agreed to allow the applicant and postgraduate student to carry out research within their laboratory space (where relevant) for the duration of the award.  
  • The applicants must not have previously held, or currently be employed on, a faculty contract of more than 24 months in duration. Persons who have held a series of short-term faculty contracts where the total contract duration is no more than 36 months are eligible to apply to this programme. 
  • The applicant must not hold, or have held, a significant peer-reviewed, independent research grant, or award of a similar career stage. Personal awards, including student, postdoctoral or individual fellowships, travel awards, and bursaries are permissible.

How to Apply

To be eligible to submit a proposal to the SFI-IRC Pathway Programme 2021 call, you must first be approved by the research Office of the host institution in which you wish to carry out your SFI-IRC Pathway Programme-funded project. Research offices of potential host institutions will be expected to instigate a procedure to select candidates for this call. Those wishing to apply to the SFI-IRC Pathway Programme 2021 call should first contact their intended host institution (details of eligible research bodies are available in the call document), informing the Research Office about their identity and credentials, the identity of their chosen mentor, and an outline of their intended research plan. In selecting excellent candidates, research bodies should consider the evaluation criteria described in the call document and may consider the strategic vision of the research body, in particular, its plans for the retention and development of internationally competitive faculty and research leaders.

Application Submission  

All proposals 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. 

SESAME information web page: click here.

Queries on the SESAME management system should first be directed to your Institute’s Research Office.

Information webinar

SFI and the IRC hosted an information webinar for potential SFI-IRC Pathway programme applicants and associated Research Office staff on Thursday 29th April 2021. The webinar can be downloaded here