Independent process review of the Laureate Awards shows it to be a critical and timely addition to the Irish research landscape

Posted: 23 February, 2021

The Irish Research Council today announces plans to open a new Starting and Consolidator Laureate Awards call in the third quarter of 2021. With additional support from the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, the Council will be investing a total of €24.8m under this call, an increase of nearly €7.3m on the first Starting/Consolidator call.

The first Starting and Consolidator Laureate Awards call launched in 2017, and was followed by an Advanced Laureate Awards call in 2018. Currently 48 frontier research projects across AHSS and STEM disciplines are supported nationally, with a total of 92 early-career researchers funded within the project teams. The Laureate Awards were developed to fulfil the Innovation2020 recommendation for the establishment of a new frontier research funding programme, acknowledging the dearth of funding for discovery research beyond the postdoctoral stage for talented researchers.

Following the completion of the first two cycles of the Laureate Awards, the Council commissioned an independent review of the award process to ensure best practice and gather feedback ahead of the current call. This report, published today, details the findings of Technopolis Group following their independent analysis of the application and review process. This analysis comprised a detailed survey of applicants, awardees, research support officers and international peer reviewers, and comparative studies with international awards of similar scope and size.

Some of the headline findings are outlined below:

  • The Laureate Awards highlight a wealth of high-quality basic research capacity across all disciplines in Ireland, but the review noted high demand for funding support for such research.
  • The Laureate Award processes were found to be in good health, in particular applicants praised the overall ease and user-friendliness of the process.
  • The review identified opportunities to enhance the transparency of funding decisions and the associated feedback given to successful and unsuccessful applicants.
  • Survey respondents acknowledged a greater ability to apply for ERC funding as an important outcome not only of winning a Laureate Award, but even of applying through a process that is closely aligned with ERC grant criteria.

Further details regarding the upcoming Starting and Consolidator Award 2021 will be published on the Council’s website during 2021


Read the full Laureate Review here

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