Driving STEM-led innovation to address society’s greatest challenges

In the recently published All-of-Government Climate Action Plan to Tackle Climate Breakdown, SFI has been given responsibility to develop challenge-based approaches to address complex and long-term challenges in climate action. In immediate response to this, this call of the SFI Future Innovator Prize Call will have the challenge theme Zero Emissions.

Applications will be accepted from teams seeking to address significant challenges in achieving net-zero economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Applications should propose the development of disruptive STEM-led solutions (and that fall within SFI’s legal remit) that will accelerate progress towards achieving this ambitious goal. Please see the call document below for additional information on the thematic area.

Applications should consider the need for teams to have complementary technical skills to ensure successful challenge definition and solution development/deployment. Furthermore, consideration should also be given to the broader challenge/solution context which may require input from experts in disciplines outside of STEM such as the arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS).

Following application review, successful applicant teams will be awarded funding of €20k to undertake team building, scoping and concept validation activities. They will then undergo a rigorous interview and shortlisted teams will be provided with €200k to further validate and prototype their proposed solutions. Finalists will ultimately compete for one overall prize award of €2M to further develop and deploy their solution. In addition, a Bonus Prize Award of €1M may also be made for solutions with transformative potential in the area of Negative Emissions Technologies.


In parallel to this Future Innovator Prize Call, SFI is exploring top-down challenge calls which will focus on developing and deploying transformative solutions to specific challenges related to climate change. We will be engaging with a wide stakeholder group during this process, but welcome ideas already at this stage, which you may send by e-mail to challenges@sfi.ie. Please provide only a brief description and justification.  

Please note that, under a partnership between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and SFI, additional teams may be funded that are focused on delivering impact in countries where Ireland’s official development assistance is directed. For more informtion on this partnership see SFI-DFAT Partnership: Future Innovator Prize 2019.