The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call to action for all countries, in partnership, to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.
Achieving the SDGs lies at the heart of Ireland’s international development policy, A Better World, as well as being part of SFI’s new strategy, Shaping our Future, to deliver tangible benefits for society. With these common goals, Irish Aid (Department of Foreign Affairs) are partnering with SFI to the launch the SDG Challenge.
The SDG Challenge seeks to support diverse, transdisciplinary teams to develop transformative, sustainable solutions that will contribute to addressing development challenges under the UN SDGs in countries where Irish Aid works.
Funding is available for collaborative research teams based in eligible research institutions in Ireland and partner countries. Successful teams will be awarded up to €300k and will work through a series of phases to develop their idea. An overall prize award of €1M will be available to the team that demonstrates the highest potential for transformative impact.
In this initial call, SFI and Irish Aid are seeking solutions that contribute to SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, and related goals and targets. Solutions must demonstrate context-specific impact in one of the eligible partner countries, but applicants are also encouraged to consider shared challenges where solutions may have wider impact.
The SDG Challenge is intended to support highly motivated, transdisciplinary teams committed to developing transformative, sustainable solutions that will contribute to addressing development challenges under the UN SDGs in Irish Aid’s partner countries. It is expected that teams will encompass a range of technical and non-technical skills to address barriers associated with challenge definition and solution deployment, and that they will represent collaborative partnerships between researchers in Ireland and the partner country.
Teams must include expertise in the STEM research area underpinning the proposed solution, but should also include knowledge or experience in areas such as, for example, international development, development economics, or behavioural or social sciences, in order to inform the adoption and impact of novel interventions.
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Applications to the prize must identify a core applicant/leadership team comprising a minimum of three or maximum of four members:
- Team Lead (mandatory) – to provide technical leadership and to have overall responsibility for delivery of research programme objectives. It is expected that the Team Lead has a demonstrable track record in the STEM area of the primary innovation and must be based in a SFI eligible research body.
- Partner Country Team Co-Lead (mandatory) – to provide technical leadership, bringing research expertise in the STEM area of the application or in relevant areas related to international development or sustainability. The Partner Country Team Co-Lead must be based in an eligible HEI or RPO in the partner country
- Team Co-Lead (optional) – to provide complementary technical leadership in a different area to that of the Team Lead. This expertise may be in the area of STEM or in relevant areas related to international development or sustainability. The Team Co-Lead must be based in a SFI eligible research body.
- Societal Impact Champion (optional) – to play a key advocacy role and assist in maximising the societal impact of the solution. They will provide non-technical leadership and support Team to identify and validate challenges in addition to advising on solution development. It is envisaged that the Societal Impact Champion will come from a non-academic sector and have appropriate experience in areas relevant to the societal impact and international development focus of the application. The Societal Impact Champion may come from, for example: public sector/government, non-governmental organisations, charities, patient advocacy, philanthropy or civil society. Where a Societal Impact Champion is not included at the application stage, applicant teams should indicate how they will access relevant end-users, stakeholders, etc. to inform the non-technical aspects of the project.
Applicants should refer to the call document for detailed eligibility information for each team member.
- Following successful application, selected core teams will have the opportunity to build a broader challenge team, including identification and recruitment of additional collaborators. In addition, funded teams will be assigned a liaison in Irish Aid or one of their overseas missions to further inform the development and deployment of their solution, facilitate access to stakeholder networks and to provide relevant policy context.