Apr 03 2020 Posted: 09:57 IST

CÚRAM wish to share this important information on behalf of Science Foundation Ireland.


SFI Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is working together with Government Departments and other agencies (IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Health Research Board, Irish Research Council and others), and the wider research and innovation community to ensure a coordinated and meaningful contribution to solving some of the challenges we are presented with during the current Covid-19 crisis. 

To this end, we have developed a Five Point Plan which represents SFI’s contribution to the Irish Government’s National Action Plan in response to Covid-19. The plan outlines key activities where SFI believe we and the research community can make a positive impact.


COVID-19 Rapid Response

Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland

Since first being reported in December 2019, the world is experiencing a pandemic outbreak with the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. Ireland is taking a cross-Government and public health-led approach to tackling this crisis through its National Action Plan in response to COVID-19, focused on minimising risk of illness for all, minimising risk of exposure of vulnerable groups and minimising social and economic disruption. 

Research, development and innovation, both in the public and private sectors, have a significant role to play in the national and global response to COVID-19. Of key importance in this regard is the WHO Global Research Roadmap and, in particular, the highlighted immediate priorities and knowledge gaps. Funders around the globe have rapidly mobilised forces to provide a range of opportunities for researchers and innovative companies. 

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Enterprise Ireland (EI), and IDA Ireland have launched a joint rapid-response call to fund research, development, and innovation (RD&I) activities that will deliver significant and timely impact for Ireland within the context of the current emergency. This call will be closely co-ordinated with the rapid response call launched by the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Irish Research Council (IRC).

Potential applicants are advised to consider their eligibility and the suitability of their proposal and to consider the most appropriate mechanism.

The SFI, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland rapid response call is an agile and adaptive initiative to support development of innovative solutions (including STEM-based, social/behavioural science) that can have rapid demonstrable impact on the current COVID-19 crisis in Ireland.

Under this call, any Research Performing Organisation (RPO); a client company of one of the following government agencies Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Údaras Na Gaeltachta or Local Enterprise Office (LEO); or any combination of the preceding may submit a proposal for support of a solution to a significant specific problem associated with the COVID-19 crisis in Ireland. The involvement of relevant Government Departments and/or other public sector bodies in the development of applications and the delivery of the solution is strongly encouraged. Any solution supported under this call must be operational and fully deployed within 6 months of project start.

Applications from other organisations, outside those referenced above, are also welcome and we would ask you to contact us at covid19@sfi.ie to confirm eligibility.

SFI and the listed Government agencies will consider funding proposals aligned to this call. In addition, SFI and the agencies will also play a co-ordination role, liaising closely with other funders and Government Departments in the national system to expedite support of proposals outside this scope.

The HRB-IRC rapid response call focuses on the development of medical countermeasures, health service readiness, and social and political countermeasures to COVID-19.

Given current circumstances, SFI, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland recognise the challenges facing researchers, industry and higher education institutions, and significant demands placed on key stakeholders working in clinical settings. In this context, both they, the HRB and IRC will take a flexible and pragmatic approach to the management of these challenges in relation to any funded awards.

Scope of the Call

The agencies are interested in incentivising RD&I activities that will impact positively on the current crisis. These activities include the development of innovative solutions based on new or alternative approaches and methodologies to address immediate national needs.  Applications that propose the adaptation, blending or re-purposing of existing products, processes, technologies and infrastructures are also strongly encouraged.

Problem areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Contact tracing and role of data analytics;
  • Frontline healthcare (supply of ventilators, use and supply of personal protective equipment and infection prevention and control (IPC) methods etc);
  • Monitoring the impact and effectiveness of control and mitigation measures;
  • Re-purposing of existing technologies, products or processes;
  • Rapid, reliable, diagnostic testing and sampling optimisation;
  • Supporting essential behaviours of self-isolation and social-distancing;
  • Mitigation measures relating to the disruption that the crisis is having on Irish society, including impact on essential services and supply chains;
  • Epidemiological and seroepidemiological studies, including novel approaches to better understand transmission and spread of virus (relevant to humans and animals) and to evaluate the potential impact of control measures.

Ethical, Regulatory and Gender in Research Requirements

Applicants are required to consider and adhere where relevant to SFI’s requirements in relation to all ethical and regulatory issues.  Prior to advancing to expert review, applicants may be requested to provide additional information on the ethical requirements associated with their application.  Additionally, as SFI is committed to integrating a gender perspective into research that we fund, applicants will be requested to provide a statement on how the project integrates a gender perspective in the research proposed, outputs and impacts of the project.

Guidance for applicants on these issues can be found here.

What can you do to help?

If you feel that you could strengthen and enhance Ireland’s ability to deal with the current crisis, and that your idea broadly aligns with the problem areas outlined above, please consider the following:

  1. If you are a researcher, innovator, developer and have identified a specific problem area for which you consider you could develop an impactful and innovative solution and you need financial or other support from Science Foundation Ireland or other national funders, please read the SFI, Enterprise Ireland, IDA COVID-19 Rapid Response Funding Call Documentand follow the instructions on how to submit an application. Please email specific queries on this to covid19@sfi.ie
  2. If you have identified a problem where you consider that RD&I could have impact and would like this problem to be highlighted to innovators and researchers, who may be able to advance a solution, please contact us directly at covid19@sfi.ie
  3. If you are currently working in an organisation (e.g. in industry, public service, research performing organisation etc.) on a solution that could generate significant impact and strengthen Ireland’s response to the current crisis, and you need to be connected with research experts, government departments or agencies in Ireland that may be able to assist, please contact us directly at covid19@sfi.ie

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