Dublin, 9th January 2020 – Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) today published its Annual Plan for 2020. Key priorities are: a continued focus on individual-led research programmes, challenge-based funding initiatives including programmes to address climate action, international engagement through partnerships with funding agencies, public engagement programmes to drive public interest and participation in STEM, partnerships with enterprise and supporting Ireland’s world class SFI Research Centres. The plan also includes specific funding of €1.5 million to help ensure that border area businesses have additional support in mitigating the impact of Brexit.
Commenting on Science Foundation Ireland’s 2020 Plan, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said, “In an evolving and increasingly competitive global environment, scientific research continues to be crucial to Ireland’s future economy. That’s why it forms a key part of Future Jobs Ireland, the whole-of-Government plan to prepare our businesses and workers for the future. I look forward to seeing SFI implementing its extensive suite of programmes in the coming year, which support both individual researchers and those involved in academia, as well as industry partnerships to underpin our enterprise competitiveness.”
Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, said: “Research and innovation continue to play a key role in our society and our economy, so I am pleased today to welcome the publication of SFI’s plan for 2020. Supporting excellent talent in our STEM sector continues to be a focus for 2020 through the SFI Centres for Research Training, SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme for excellent individual researchers, the challenge-based funding opportunities and the SFI Research Professorship Programme.”
Publishing details of the 2020 Plan, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “In 2019 Science Foundation Ireland delivered on its planned commitments including the launch of the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme, the SFI Public Service Fellowship, continued growth of the SFI Research Centres and a number of highly successful engagement programmes throughout Ireland. In the current environment of increased public awareness and concern for issues including climate action and ethical use of data, STEM has a huge role to play. As we prepare to launch SFI’s new strategy 2020-2025 and in our programme for 2020, we seek to address these challenges and continue our commitment to supporting excellent and impactful research to address relevant problems in responsible ways.”
Key focus of activities are as follows:
The SFI Science for Society plan for 2020 includes:
- Individual-led research programmes including the announcement of the first awards and launch of the second call for the SFI Frontiers for the Future programme in early 2020 and the SFI Research Professorship Programme, which is key to attracting outstanding international talent to Ireland in strategic priority research areas.
- International partnerships – which focus on stimulating collaboration with UK and US funding agencies (SFI-Royal Society partnership, SFI-HRB-Wellcome Trust, SFI-EPSRC co-funding partnership, SFI-NSF I-Corps@SFI entrepreneurial training programme etc). Through these partnerships and its broader engagement programme, SFI will support the Government’s plans to build Ireland’s global footprint.
- Challenge-based funding – along with the launch of a new SFI Future Innovator Prize call in 2020, SFI also plans to design and implement a number of top-down challenge calls in 2020 with awards available for both planning grants and seed funding. This will initially focus on challenges that align with the Climate Action Plan.
- SFI Public Service Fellowship – launched in 2019, this pilot programme seeks to place researchers in government departments, agencies and local authorities to promote a culture of innovation in public service. These awards will be made in early 2020.
- Education and Public Engagement – will continue to be a focus for SFI through the continuation and growth of the SFI Discover Programme and the SFI Discover Science Week Festivals Programme.
As part of its Science for the Economy plan SFI will focus on:
- SFI Research Centres – in addition to the continued support of the 16 world-class large-scale SFI Research Centres, SFI will focus on the SFI Research Centres Spokes Programme which enables the addition of new industrial and academic partners and provides the opportunity for different SFI Research Centres to work together to deliver excellent basic and applied research results and discoveries.
- The SFI Strategic Partnerships Programme will continue to leverage resources for excellent research in partnership with the private sector including industry, philanthropy and charitable organisations. The SFI Industry Fellowship Programme will run with two calls in 2020. A novel fellowship call in partnership with Venture Capital companies will be launched which will provide a compelling training opportunity for academic researchers.
- Under the new economic Stimulus Package for the Border Region, €1.5 million in funding will enable researchers to take up placements in industry bringing new energy and specialist expertise to businesses in the Border region, to help ensure that businesses have additional support in mitigating the impact of Brexit.
Science Foundation Ireland’s Annual Plan 2020 is available to download here.