SFI Grant Budget Policy
Science Foundation Ireland’s Grant Budget Policy (GBP) describes budgetary requirements in relation to both the submission of grant applications for review and the management of funded award budgets.
SFI acknowledges that, following award, the approved budget may need to be modified over time. Therefore, it is recognised that a certain degree of flexibility in the design of revised budgets is required in order to best achieve the objectives of the funded research programme. Budget revisions may be permitted provided that they are appropriately justified within the terms of the corresponding Letter of Offer, SFI Grant General Terms and Conditions, SFI Policy on Budget Reallocations and other relevant SFI policies.
- SFI Grant Budget Policy
- SFI Team Member Salary Scales: Revised salary contribution scales reflect the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and are to apply to all grant applications, effective from January 1st 2018
Revised salary scales will take immediate effect and should be used in the preparation of applications submitted to SFI. For multi-annual grant applications, applicants should include future increases in their budget requests. Applicants should consider realistic start dates when estimating costs and should contact SFI well in advance of call deadlines where they have specific questions relating to budget preparation. Applicants are reminded to consult with their Research Offices in the preparation of budget requests and that all budgets must be endorsed by the applicant’s research body prior to submission.
It is recognised that grant applications to rolling calls may be at an advanced stage of preparation or applications under review may refer to previous scales. These applications will be reviewed as normal and any budget revisions required will be handled on a case-by-case basis where proposals are recommended for funding.
SFI Research Infrastructure Access Charge Plans
1. Guidelines for preparing a Research Infrastructure Access Charge Plan
Last Updated: June 2016
Science Foundation Ireland recognises the importance of sustainability planning to enable research bodies to maintain research infrastructure. It is therefore critical that maximum usage of infrastructure is planned, and an appropriate access charge plan is put in place.
In order to support widespread infrastructural sustainability within the Irish STEM research community, Science Foundation Ireland allows grant applications under its various programmes to include requests for infrastructure access charges to support research programme aims. However, the Foundation will only fund Research Body-managed infrastructure charges once a pre-approved access charge plan is in place. These Research Infrastructures could be SFI funded; however, the Foundation will also accept the submission of access charge plans for non-SFI funded Research Infrastructure. Please note that once access charge plans are approved, the Foundation will not apply access charges retrospectively to its awarded grants.
2. SFI Approved Access Charges
Last Updated: January 2018
Access charges may be sought for use of infrastructure where SFI pre-approved access charge plans are in place. In Grant applications, access-charge requests must be included as a separate line item in the materials & consumables section of the budget and where relevant must include the infrastructure grant code (where relevant) and name of the relevant infrastructure to be used.
Charges for access to facilities and services not directly available to the applicant, such as the costs associated with commissioning specific experiments in research facilities and National Testbeds (e.g. ICHEC, Tyndall, CRANN etc.) may be requested where SFI pre-approved access charge plans are in place and/or where strongly justified.
A listing of current SFI Approved Access Charge plans and associated key contacts can be found here.
Any queries relating to access charges should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Industry Cost Share Guidelines
Introduction and guiding principles
Certain SFI programmes (e.g. Research Centres, CSETs and SRCs) require matching funds from Industry. The purpose of this document is to give guidance with regards to the types of contributions which are allowable and the specific verification required.
Responsibility will lie with the Research Body to ensure the cost share requirements are met. In all cases the industry partners’ contribution should be justified, measurable and verifiable. One method of Industry Partner cost share is in the form of cash contributions.
Although they can be difficult to manage from an accounting point of view, SFI recognizes the importance of “in-kind” contributions. Where “in-kind” contributions are being provided the basis of the cost of these contributions, for example, personnel, materials, use of computer programmes etc. must be agreed by SFI and the Research Body at the outset. All documentation relating to cost share provided to the academic partners by industry must be available for audit purposes if required. All cost-share contributions must have a commercial value (or assigned an acceptable and rationalised commercial value), and cannot be funded from the Irish Exchequer, for example the Research Body will be required to confirm that costs incurred by industry partners are not covered by grants from other Government sources.
Research Centres , CSETs and SRCs are required to report on a regular basis on the value of cost share received from Industry Partners.
Forms of 'in kind' contributions
The industry and academic partners, as well as SFI, should agree in advance the basis of the cost attributed to the award.
Personnel as cost share may be verified in one of two ways:
- Signed time sheets or similar documentation will be made available
- An officer of the industry partner may submit a vouched statement certifying the personnel cost share
Industry partner administration and management personnel costs are not eligible as “in-kind” cost share, unless those individuals are working directly on the collaborative project. Either (i) the individual’s verifiable salary or (ii) the midpoint of the individual’s salary scale, plus a 50% overhead (in either case) will be permitted as “in-kind” cost share. Part-time personnel may be included on a pro rata basis. The salary or salary scale may be verified by a vouched statement from an officer of the company.
Placement of SFI-funded team members with industry partners. If an SFI-funded team member is seconded to work on-site with an industry partner for 3 months (minimum) an ‘in-kind’ contribution of €20,000 will be recognised, up to a maximum of 20K per year per SFI-funded team member. The 3 month duration could also take place on a part time basis (e.g. half time for 6 months). Salary/stipend may continue to be paid from the SFI award. The industry placement cumulative ‘in-kind’ component may not exceed 30% of any SFI award’s required cost share.
The Industry partner may donate equipment for the exclusive use of the project or may make specialist equipment available to the researchers for a set period. The industry and academic partners, as well as SFI, should agree in advance the basis of the cost attributed to the award.
If the equipment is purchased a copy of the invoice should be kept and made available for audit purposes. If ‘access only’ is provided, timesheets and the basis of the hourly or daily charge should be kept and made available for audit purposes.
In general, if equipment is sold to the Research Body the discount element cannot be included as an ‘in-kind’ contribution.
Other forms of 'in kind' contributions
Examples of other forms of “in-kind” contributions include:
- Use of proprietary software programmes
- Access to specialist facilities
- Access to proprietary materials or corporate knowledge
- Provision of specialised accessories
- Provision of samples, materials or consumables
In all cases where the industry partners’ contribution is in the form of ‘in-kind’ contributions, the value of such contributions should be agreed in advance by the industry and academic partners, and SFI. Such a value may be verified by:
- A verifiable market price
- A vouched statement from an officer of the industry partner certifying the value of the contribution
SFI may authorise a budget reallocation of the approved budget to assure successful completion of the original scientific objectives of a funded programme. A budget reallocation is not required to be submitted to SFI where the following reallocations of the approved budget are proposed:
(a) The Researcher wishes to move funds between the categories Staff, Consumables and Travel, up to a value of €20,000 of the calendar year allocation for each category.
(b) The Researcher wishes to move funds between calendar years up to a value of €20,000, based on the total budget for all categories in each calendar year.
A budget allocation is, however, required to be submitted to SFI where the following reallocations of the approved budget are proposed:
(c) Moving amounts in excess of €20,000 to or from any category, or to or from any calendar year must be requested through the submission of a Budget Reallocation Request and must have the prior written approval of the Foundation.
(d) Movement of any funds to or from the Equipment category.
Any budget reallocation must be clearly justified in the context of the scientific goals of the funded programme and must not exceed the direct costs budget approved in the Letter of Offer or extend past the approved expiry date of the award.
A request for a budget reallocation should be made prior to committing or incurring expenditure, in excess of that allowed in the Letter of Offer. All requests for Budget Reallocations must be submitted on-line using SESAME, the SFI Grants Management system. The Award Holder generates the budget reallocation request using SESAME. All requests for a Budget reallocation must be approved by the Finance and Research Office of the Host Institution via SESAME. The Research office submits the Budget Reallocation request to SFI for processing. All Budget Reallocation request must be approved by an SFI Programme Officer and by the SFI Finance and Operations Office. All approvals will be processed using SESAME.
View Module 12 of the Researcher User Guide for SESAME Award Management System for completing Budget Reallocations
Please note that the SFI Terms and Conditions of the original grant approval will still apply. Once approval is granted, notification will be sent by e-mail to the Award Holder, the Finance office and Research office of the Host Institution. Grantees are cautioned not to make commitments or incur expenditures in the Category or Year to which you wish to reallocate funds, in excess of those allowed in your Letter of Offer, in anticipation of a Budget Reallocation being approved.
Any questions in advance of submitting a Budget Reallocation should be directed to the SFI Programme Officer managing the award.
No Cost Extensions
SFI may authorise a one-time extension of the expiration date of a grant if additional time beyond the Letter of Offer Award End Date is required to assure completion of the original scientific scope of work within the funds already made available. Usually this no-cost extension (NCE) will be granted for up to 6 months, but additional time may be granted if justified and warranted.
A request for NCE should be made when there are typically 3-6 months remaining on the award to allow for appropriate and timely planning but SFI will accept applications outside of this time frame if required by the Award Holder. The award holders should request a NCE for all awards using SESAME, the new SFI Grants Management system.
Procedures for processing a NCE
The Award Holder generates the NCE request using SESAME. All requests for a NCE must be approved by the Finance and Research Office of the Host Institution via SESAME. The Research office submits the NCE request to SFI for processing. Any NCE request must be approved by an SFI Programme Officer and by the SFI Finance and Operations Office. All approvals will be processed using SESAME. As appropriate, if approval is granted, notification will be sent on-line to the Award Holder, the Finance office and Research office of the Host Institution.
There is a SESAME user guide for Researchers on the SFI Website to assist Researchers on using SESAME. See Module 11 of theResearcher User Guide for SESAME Award Management System for completing NCE.
The following information should be provided when applying for a No Cost Extension:
- Justification for Extension: a strong scientific rationale explaining the need for the extension period. The fact that funds may remain at the expiration of the grant is not in itself sufficient justification for an extension. The plan must adhere to the previously approved objectives of the project.
- Projected funds remaining after the current expiration date: budget figures should be provided which accurately record the level of funding projected to be remaining after the current expiration date on the award.
- Spend plan during period of extension: an outline of the proposed budget breakdown into categories salary, equipment, materials & consumable, and travel during the requested period of extension. Please note that a request can be made to move funds from their existing category but any such request must be made via a Budget Reallocation Request submitted on SESAME.
Please note that the SFI Terms and Conditions of the original grant approval still apply during the period of No Cost Extension.
Once a NCE is approved for an award, written approval will specify a new expiration date and will be communicated by e-mail to the researcher , the Finance and Research Offices of the Host Institution. Grantees are cautioned not to make new commitments or incur new expenditures after the original expiration date in anticipation of a No Cost Extension. Any questions in advance of submitting a No Cost Extension Request should be directed to the SFI Scientific Programme Manager managing the award.