SFI Annual Plan 2021

SFI Annual Programme Plan 20211. SummaryWith the recent approval of SFI’s new strategy, Shaping Our Future, the organisation is nowprogressing to implementation. This proposed annual plan has been developed in keeping with thefollowing objectives from our new strategy:-Funding a balanced national portfolio between individual investigator-led and ResearchCentres, across all career levels, from frontiers research to applied and including top-downand bottom-up programmes.-Continued focus on SFI Research Centres to drive excellent research and tangible benefits forthe economy of Ireland.-Ongoing support for Education and Public Engagement to ensure we have an informed publicand to secure the pipeline of future talent.-International collaboration with prestigious organisations overseas which raises Ireland’sprofile, is operationally efficient, and provides a large return on investment for the Irishtaxpayer.-Funding the research Infrastructure which underpins the implementation of many of theresearch grants funded by SFI.The proposed annual plan is the result of considering these strategic objectives in the context of theexisting portfolio of research funded by SFI and any funding gaps in the national STEM researchecosystem. For 2021, in line with our strategy the following areas have been have identified for newor additional funding:-Early career researchers,-Technological Universities/Institutes of Technology,-Additional frontiers research.Through the allocation of additional budget from the Department of Further & Higher Education,Research, Innovation & Science (D/FHERIS), combined with the existing budget available for newprogrammes in 2021, the above priority areas are being addressed.SFI Annual Plan 2021Page 1 9

2. SFI FundingThe majority of SFI’s investments are in research projects which have a longer than 12-monthduration. Therefore, SFI makes many multi-year awards each year. Only a small proportion of a multiannual award is paid out in year 1; the subsequent payments are released in the years thereafter.When the financial commitments that have been accrued in previous years are added together andsubtracted from the SFI baseline budget, the difference equates to the amount of cash that is availableeach year for new awards.SFI’s capital allocation for 2021 is 208.3 million. This funding is broken down as follows: 167.9Mallocation for grants awarded in previous years (81%) and 40.4M available for in-year expenditureon new awards (19%) in 2021.3. 2021 ProgrammesInvestigator-led ResearchA key action from SFI’s strategy is to increase support for individual investigator-led research.Frontiers research enables ideas to spark and grow from the bottom, up. SFI has committed to growall of its frontiers research schemes to ensure that SFI delivers a portfolio balanced across frontiersand applied research. This capital plan will support expansion of the SFI Frontiers for the FutureProgramme and the launch of the new SFI-IRC Pathway Programme in partnership with the IRC tosupport talented postdoctoral researchers across all disciplines to develop their track record and establishthemselves as independent investigators.Another key objective of the SFI Strategy is to recruit world-leading researchers and rising stars toIreland. The capital budget allows for the continued support of this objective through the SFI ResearchProfessorship programme which runs on a rolling call basis.SFI Annual Plan 2021Page 2 9

The expansion of the SFI Frontiers for the Future programme will incorporate a new strand that isspecifically targeted at developing research talent and capacity within the Technological Universities(TUs) and Institutes of Technology (IoTs).SFI Frontiers for the FutureThe SFI Frontiers for the Future programme is a key component of the SFI Strategy, in particular theTop Talent and Excellent Research themes. The programme will enable SFI to deliver on the specifictarget to support 140 Individual led research grants per year.Elements to the programme in 2021: Completion of the SFI Frontiers for the Future 2020 call - Projects and Awards Support for Technological Universities/Institutes of TechnologyCompletion of the SFI Frontiers for the Future 2020 callSFI Frontiers for the Future programme launched again in July 2020 with a fixed deadline for the SFIFrontiers for the Future Projects stream. The SFI Frontiers for the Future Awards stream is operatingon a rolling call basis.SFI Frontiers for Partnerships – Support for Technological UniversitiesThe SFI Frontiers for Partnerships is a new stream to support Ireland’s TU and IoTs in partnership withtheir University counterparts following additional budget allocation from D/FHERIS. Theseapplications will be led by the TU/IoT researchers and will support teaching buyout and therecruitment of PhD students.SFI-IRC Pathway Programme – joint call with the IRCThe “Our Shared Future” Programme for Government sets a vision for Ireland “to be a global leaderin research and innovation across the art, humanities, social sciences and STEM”. Part of that visionincludes a commitment to develop career pathways for early career researchers with starting grantfunding rounds to be issued on an annual basis from each of our funding institutions. This is reflectedSFI Annual Plan 2021Page 3 9

in the new SFI strategy, in which a key theme is to foster diverse Top Talent by building, attracting,and retaining the academic and research talent that powers Ireland’s innovation society.Both the IRC and SFI agree that there is a strong need in the research community for a fundingprogramme that will retain highly-skilled, excellent postdoctoral researchers (typically 3 years postPhD) in the Irish system, and which will be an attractive vehicle for those who wish to transition to anindependent research career in any discipline.Additional funding has been provided by D/FHERIS to support the new SFI-IRC Pathway programmewhich will be open to postdoctoral researchers in the STEM and AHSS fields.SFI Research Professorship ProgrammeA key objective of the SFI Strategy is to recruit world leading researchers and rising stars to move toIreland to act as nuclei of world-class research groups which will attract Foreign Direct Investment,entrepreneurial activity and bolster local expertise. The SFI Research Professorship Programmefacilitates this objective and will continue operating as a rolling call in 2021. The Programme currentlyhas two preferential themes to encourage applications from female research professors and tofacilitate joint appointments with Institutions in the United Kingdom.Research InfrastructureSFI Research InfrastructureA key action from the SFI Strategy is to Invest in state-of-the-art research infrastructure programmeswhich will facilitate high-quality, excellent research. The SFI Research Infrastructure Programme willrun in 2021, with a clear objective to invest in equipment that will ensure Irish research remains atthe cutting edge and is internationally competitive. There is a clear need within the research systemfor laboratory equipment to be refreshed and replaced on a regular basis.SFI Annual Plan 2021Page 4 9

International Collaborative ProgrammesLead Agency agreements with UK and other international funding agencies are an importantcomponent of SFI’s portfolio. In many cases SFI funding is leveraged by combining with funding fromother jurisdictions to support a larger international project. The number of partnerships has increasedin recent years, offering further opportunities to the Irish research community to compete at aninternational level, to foster links with international collaborators and to expand their teams throughinternational recruitment. The importance of these partnerships from a science diplomacy standpoint,as well as enabling exchange of ideas and knowledge between SFI and its partners at an agency level,must also be acknowledged.US-Ireland ProgrammeThe US-Ireland tri-jurisdictional schemes, involving Ireland, the US and Northern Ireland include theUS-Ireland Investigator calls with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes ofHealth (NIH), and the US-Ireland Centre-to-Centre calls with the NSF. The partner agencies in theRepublic of Ireland are SFI and the Health Research Board (HRB), in the US are the NIH and the NSF,and in Northern Ireland are the Department for the Economy (DfE), and the Health and Social Careagency NI (HSC NI).SFI-Royal Society PartnershipThe SFI-Royal Society partnership will continue to support Ireland-based applicants under the RoyalSociety University Research Fellowship (URF) scheme.SFI-HRB-Wellcome PartnershipA provision has been made to continue support for Ireland-based applicants to a wide range ofWellcome programmes in 2021, under the co-funded SFI-HRB-Wellcome partnership.SFI-EPSRC PartnershipSFI will continue partnership with the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).SFI Annual Plan 2021Page 5 9

European Co - Funding InitiativesSFI will continue to support European Co-Funding Initiatives awards.Science Engagement, Policy and Career developmentSFI Fellowship ProgrammeThe SFI Fellowship Programme provides a training opportunity for the research community to engagein the role of science policy and administration within SFI.SFI Discover ProgrammeThe SFI Discover Programme supports education and public engagement in STEM. The annual SFI Discover Programme Annual Call will run in 2021, supporting projects thatbroaden and inspire participation in STEM, that build public engagement capacity building andcontribute to the STEM talent pipeline. The annual SFI Discover Programme Science Week Call will run in 2021, to support broad andinnovative access to Science Week across the country. The SFI/RTÉ Joint Initiative Agreement will be continued into 2021, subject to review by bothparties.SFI Maternity AllowanceSFI will continue to support Maternity Allowance awards, in line with SFI’s Gender Policy.Innovation, Entrepreneurship and CommercialisationChallenge Funding – SFI Future Innovator PrizeSFI is currently undertaking multiple, complementary approaches to the development andimplementation of challenge‐based funding, to enhance delivery of societal impact from governmentfunded research. Co-funded initiatives with other Public Service Bodies will also be scoped anddeveloped during 2021.SFI Annual Plan 2021Page 6 9

SFI-NSF I-Corps@SFI Entrepreneurial Training ProgrammeThe I-Corps@SFI Programme which supports evidence-based entrepreneurship training, is planned tocontinue in 2021 following renewal of the current agreement with the NSF.SFI Research CentresShaping Our Future sets out an objective to grow and evolve the SFI Research Centres programme andother enterprise facing SFI programmes to drive research across all areas of STEM, supportingeconomic recovery, as well as addressing major societal challenges, such as climate change. SFI willcontinue to support the 16 SFI Research Centres in 2021.Encourage and fund new industry partnershipsSFI’s Agenda 2020 had a strong focus on developing a research ecosystem where academia andbusiness collaborate effectively, driving research out into the market and society. Shaping Our Futurewill build on the success of Agenda 2020 through driving deeper company research and innovationengagement, addressing Ireland’s underperformance within the EU in terms of private investment inpublic R&D.SFI Spokes programmeThe SFI Spokes Programme is a rolling call that enables SFI Research Centres to apply together withindustry partners for additional funding to support new collaborative research projects at any time. Arevised version of the SFI Research Centres Spokes Programme will launch in 2021 with a new focuson driving development of cross-Centre Spoke collaborations, in addition to industry partnercollaborations.SFI Strategic PartnershipsThe SFI Strategic Partnerships programme supports novel co-investment partnerships with the privatesector including industry, philanthropy and charitable organisations, in areas not covered by anexisting SFI Research Centre.SFI Annual Plan 2021Page 7 9

SFI Industry RD&I Fellowship programmeA new SFI Industry RD&I Fellowship programme will launch in 2021.4. Overview of 2021 - Planned Programme CallsAll launch dates provided in these tables are indicative and are subject to change, in response, forexample, to alterations in SFI’s annual grants budget, staff resources, other new schemes SFI maydevelop and Government policy/priorities.Programmes launched during 2020 or earlier, with a 2021 funding decisionProgrammeSFI Frontiers for the Future 2020 (projects)Award Decision TimeframeQ2 2021SFI Future Innovator Prize AI for Societal Good Q1 2021ChallengeSFI Future Innovator Prize Award Prize for Zero Q1 2021Emissions ChallengeSFI Future Innovator Prize - Seed Awards for Food Q1 2021ChallengeSFI Future Innovator Prize - Seed Awards for Plastics Q1 2021ChallengeFixed Deadline Calls Open in 2021ProgrammeCall LaunchCall DeadlineAwardDecision TimeframeSFI Frontiers for the Future H2 2021(projects)Q4 2021Q2 2022SFI Frontiers for PartnershipQ2 2021H1 2021Q2 2021H1 2021Q4 2021Q4 2021Q1 2021Q2 2021Q3 2021Research InfrastructureSFI Industry RD&I Fellowship(1 call deadline)SFI Annual Plan 2021Page 8 9

SFI DiscoverSFI Discover Science WeekQ2 2021Q1 2021Q3 2021Q2 2021Q4 2021Q3 2021SFI FellowshipQ2 2021Q2 2021Q3 2021SFI/IRC PathwayH1 2021Q3 2021Q4 2021Rolling Calls Open during 2021ProgrammeSFI Strategic PartnershipsSFI Frontiers for the Future (Awards)SFI Research ProfessorshipSFI Spokes ProgrammeMaternity AllowanceSFI Discover Programme Opportunistic Funding MechanismInternational Partnerships Open in 2021. Deadlines as scheduled by Lead Agency*.ProgrammeUS-Ireland R&D Partnership ProgrammeSFI-HRB-Wellcome Research PartnershipSFI-Royal Society University Research FellowshipEPSRC-SFI Standard Research GrantsSFI/NSF I-CORPS@SFI Entrepreneurial Training Programme* Researchers funded through the SFI-BBSRC (UK) and SFI-NNSFC (China) will continue to be supportedand evaluated, although new calls are not currently planned for 2021.SFI Annual Plan 2021Page 9 9

SFI Annual Plan 2021 Page 4 9. in the new SFI strategy, in which a key theme is to foster diverse Top Talent by building, attracting, and retaining the academic and research talent that powers Ireland's innovation society. Both the IRC and SFI agree that there is a strong need in the research community for a funding