SFI and IRC to invest €23m in early-career researchers

7 May 2021

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The SFI-IRC Pathway programme aims to help early research talent develop their track records and networks, with a focus on promoting women in research.

A total of €23m will be invested in emerging research talent across the country. The funds, which will be awarded through a joint initiative between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Research Council (IRC), will support around 40 early-career researchers with up to €550,000 across four years.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, announced the SFI-IRC Pathway programme today (7 May). He said it will help awardees lead research projects and “develop the essential skills and experience necessary to become research leaders of the future”.

Harris added that there will be a particular focus on addressing the gender imbalance in academia. “We really want to encourage applications from women researchers,” he said.

The SFI-IRC Pathway programme will have two streams: science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS).

Each research body applying for funding will be allowed to nominate a maximum of 16 STEM-led and eight AHSS-led projects. In line with the programme’s targets for gender equality, at least eight of the STEM projects and four of the AHSS projects must be led by women.

The programme’s goals include enabling postdoc researchers to develop their track record and networks, to fund excellent and impactful research, to help higher education institutions retain early-career researchers and to contribute to knowledge creation, training and skills development.

The €550,000 awards will include €425,000 in direct costs, covering a contribution to the applicant’s salary and the stipend and fees for a PhD student.

“As we seek to rebuild after Covid-19, the work of researchers and scientists will be key to helping the economy recover,” Harris said. “We have begun to address the shortfall in funding for research but we have much more to do.

“I’m pleased to see this new joint programme between SFI and IRC contributing to my department’s objective of fostering enhanced collaboration across our research ecosystem.”

More information on the programme, including a webinar and application guidelines, can be found here. SFI will take the lead on managing applications.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021