COVID-19 Rapid Response Research and Innovation Funding Opportunity 2020

Posted: 26 March, 2020

Ireland is taking a cross-Government and public health-led approach to tackling the COVID-19 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 and Innovation, in health, academia and industry, has a significant role to play in the national and global response to COVID-19.

The Irish Research Council (IRC), Health Research Board (HRB), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Enterprise Ireland (EI), and IDA Ireland have developed a coordinated Rapid Response Research and Innovation programme to help mitigate and manage the COVID-19 pandemic by unlocking the potential of Ireland-based researchers and innovators to join the global efforts. All five agencies are working together to ensure that excellent ideas to tackle COVID-19 from across the Irish research community can be supported.

Two funding streams are available; the first, through the HRB, in cooperation with the IRC, will focus on research that covers three separate strands: medical countermeasures, health service readiness, and social and policy countermeasures to COVID-19. For this call, HRB may fund awards under any of these headings whilst the IRC will fund a number of awards under the social and policy countermeasures strand.

The research priorities of this call are aligned with the WHO R&D Blueprint and informed by the Global Infectious Disease Collaboration for International Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R).

Applications to the social and policy countermeasures strand may address the following topics:

  • Public health response, including the feasibility and effectiveness of social policies aiming to prevent and contain COVID-19 and to mitigate its secondary impacts (e.g. supply shortages, school closures, travel restrictions, quarantines, racism)
  • Supporting the psychosocial needs of those caring for people with COVID-19
  • Strategies to combat misinformation, stigma, and fear, to address their underlying drivers, and to improve public awareness, knowledge, and trust during the outbreak response
  • Involving local perspectives, citizens, and communities in the outbreak response effort
  • Social dynamics of transmission and vulnerability and how to best communicate related risks, uncertainties, and implications
  • Dynamics/impacts in respect of socio-economically disadvantaged or marginalised groups

Funding available is typically up to €200,000 per project, including overheads contribution. In exceptional circumstances and where well justified, funding awards may be higher.

The duration of awards is between 3 and 24 months, and deliverables should emerge as early as possible. Projects of immediate relevance will be prioritised over those with longer-term outlook.

All deliverables must be reported in real time in open access formats and shared with the relevant knowledge users in line with the Joint Statement on sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Please see the HRB website for full details, including eligibility, terms and conditions, assessment criteria, and how to apply:

Given the rapid nature of the process, exact dates cannot be confirmed yet. However, the table below sets out our ambition to enable research projects to commence as soon as possible.


26 March 2020, 18:00 Call opening
9 April 2020, 13:00 Call closing for applications to all panels
Approx. 20 April 2020 Panel decision
22 April 2020 HRB Board approval
29-30 April 2020 Contract and follow up supporting documentation completed
From 11 May 2020 ASAP Expected start dates of projects


SFI, EI and the IDA will lead the second funding call, which will focus on supporting the development of innovative solutions based on new or alternative approaches and methodologies to address immediate national needs. Details of this call can be found here:

Applicants are advised to consider best fit with either call. The funders will continue to coordinate activities relevant to COVID-19.


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