This scheme is for outstanding scientists in the Republic of Ireland who are in the early stages of their research career and have the potential to become leaders in their field. Further details can be found here

The scheme provides the opportunity to build an independent research career. Those appointed are expected to be strong candidates for permanent posts in universities or research bodies at the end of their fellowships.

Successful candidates will be awarded a fellowship by the Royal Society, the cost of which will be met by Science Foundation Ireland. Fellowships are awarded in all fields of the natural sciences and engineering (including agriculture, mathematics and technology, but excluding clinical medicine and biomedical research). Early career researchers from the Republic of Ireland whose research is biomedical should apply to the Research Career Development Fellowship through the SFI-HRB-Wellcome Trust Biomedical Research Partnership. The Royal Society will still accept applications in all fields of the natural sciences (including other biological) as long as the project is not addressing a direct biomedical question.

Eligibility requirements

The applicant must:

  • Have a PhD (note applicants who have just submitted their PhD will not be considered)
  • Be in the early stages of their research career and must have between 3 to 8 years of research experience since their PhD by the closing date of the round
  • Not hold a permanent post in a university or not-for-profit organization
  • Not hold or previously have held a nationally competitive fellowship that provides an opportunity to establish an independent research group and therefore independent researcher status (see Scheme Notes for more details)

The Scheme is open to candidates of all nationalities. There is no longer a requirement for applicants to be a citizen of or have a relevant connection to the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

When applying, the Society will consider time spent outside the research environment when assessing eligibility. Additionally, where applicants have taken formal periods of maternity, paternity, and adoptive leave as the primary carer (either the mother, father, partner or adopter), or extended sick leave, the Society will allow an additional six months for each period of leave when assessing eligibility.

Applicants should ensure that they meet all the eligibility requirements, which are explained in the scheme notes.


The Society’s fellowships are highly flexible and part-time working, sabbaticals and secondments can be accommodated. There is also provision for maternity, paternity, adoptive or extended sick leave.

Value and tenure

The scheme provides a salary contribution based on the SFI Research Fellow scale (Level 3), and institutional overheads, at 30% of the value of the award (less equipment). Research expenses (up to €15,000 for the first year and up to €13,000 annually thereafter) will also be provided.

Initially funding is provided for five years with the opportunity to apply for an extension of three additional years. The University Research Fellowship provides researchers with maximum flexibility and can be held part-time, and allows sabbaticals, secondments or international experience.

The basic salary requested will be at a level commensurate with the applicant’s skills, responsibilities, expertise and experience, according to Point 1 of the SFI Grants Team Member budgeting Research Fellow scale (Level 3). For further details: Grant application budget policy.

Successful Royal Society - SFI University Research Fellows who are about to start their first year are eligible to apply for up to €176,000 research grants funded by SFI.

Application process

The deadline for submission is 15:00 BST on 4 September 2017. Please note that this is also the deadline for submission of Nominated References and the Head of Department Statements. Applications are initially reviewed and then shortlisted by members of University Research Fellowship Selection Panels. Applicants are notified if they have reached the shortlisting stage in December. The shortlisted proposals are reviewed by three independent referees suggested by the panel members and successful applicants are shortlisted for interview. Applicants are informed of the result of this stage in March and interviews take place in early to mid April. The final decision is made at a meeting of the panel Chairs in April, and applicants are notified of the result in May. 

Please note that interviews for the fellowships are held at the Royal Society. Applicants are asked to keep 3-13 April free. Only applicants that pass the other stages of assessment will be invited. If you have a question about this scheme, please first read the scheme notes which contain more detailed information. If the answer is still not available, you can contact the Royal Society University Research Fellowship team at

SFI advise prospective applicants to use individual and departmental contacts to liaise with current and former URF holders for insights into the application process. View a list of current and former URF holders.

Information day

View the slides from the Royal Society – Science Foundation Ireland University Research Fellowship scheme which took place at Science Foundation Ireland on July 4th 2017.