2021EPS & EBP

2021 IRC EPS & EBP Schemes

The 2021 Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Scheme (EPS) and Employment Based Programme (EBP) are currently open. Applications are to be submitted via the online system and candidates can apply for either funding scheme but not both. 

  • Closing date for applications is 4pm Irish time on Wednesday 2nd December 2020 with awards to commence on 1st September 2021.


  • Applicants will have a Primary Academic Supervisor, an Enterprise/Employment Mentor and 2 Referees (one of whom can be the Secondary Supervisor) - each of whom will submit supporting documentation.




  • ***NGO CONTRIBUTION WAIVER FOR NEW STUDENTS (Section 16.8, page 14 of Terms & Conditions)***       As a continuation from last year's scheme, in 2021 eligible NGOs may again avail of a waiver for the first year enterprise partner contribution for all new applications to the Enterprise Partnership 2021 scheme. NGOs wishing to apply for this waiver can email schemes@research.ie for pre-approval with “NGO waiver request” as the subject title by 31st December 2020.  This means that for a research master's award with a NGO as partner, the 1/3 (€8k p.a.) enterprise partner contribution only applies to year 2; for a structured PhD the 1/3 (€8k p.a.) enterprise partner contribution only applies for years 2, 3 and 4.


  • Awardees will be based at the HEI but as per section 16.4 of the Terms and Conditions, the enterprise partner (where feasible and appropriate) is encouraged to provide a placement period for the awardee at its facilities. This is to be agreed with the Council and the academic supervisor before the scholarship commences.


  • Awardees will be based in the organisation, spending as much time as is necessary in the HEI. Awardees will be paid a salary (the IRC contributes €16k towards this) and will be employed on a full-time basis for at least the duration of the award.



Terms and Conditions - EPS


Terms and Conditions - EBP


Guide for Applicants (both schemes)

Evaluation Matrix (2020)


What is an enterprise/employment partner?

The IRC currently has c.200 enterprise partners within Ireland and internationally. An enterprise partner is a business, a company, a registered charity, a social, cultural or not-for-profit civic organisation, a semi-state commercial organisation or eligible public body that will co-fund the researcher for the duration of the award.

A public body is a public service body with specific scientific or cultural infrastructure that is integral to the conduct and completion of the proposed research. If a public body or higher education institution is an eligible research performing organisation, it is not an eligible enterprise partner under this scheme.

Enterprise Partners can register with the IRC at any stage throughout the year.  Note that it is possible for someone to submit a registration form on the Enterprise Partner's behalf however the primary contact identified on the form should be from within the organisation.  The organisation should also be aware that the registration form requires them to agree to certain terms and conditions.


Benefits to the enterprise/employment partner:

Both Irish enterprises and researchers benefit greatly from the programmes. Enterprise partners co-fund excellent researchers who dedicate their time to a specific research project related to the organisation.  At the end of the project, the researcher will gain workplace skills and a degree by research. The enterprise benefits from high value and in-depth research in an area closely aligned with their strategic interests.

Use of gender in application:

Applications should be gender blind so gender should not be identified. The Assessors will not see the personal details of the applicant. Supervisors, referees and employment mentors should also be cognisant of this.

Note that the application should be completed by the applicant NOT  the supervisor. The IRC have stressed that plagiarizing or copying other students’ applications will result in not being allowed to apply for future applications.


DCU (TORA) requirement:

Application details must be submitted to TORA prior to endorsement. PIs should submit at least 5 working days in advance of the funding deadline (so by Thursday 26th November 2020). PLEASE QUOTE THE STUDENT'S NAME ON TORA. The Graduate Studies Office will not be in a position to endorse applications that have not been submitted.

Academic supervisors who are not currently supervising an IRC student will need to be pre-registered on the online system (email jonny.hobson@dcu.ie to do so).  See information on Primary Academic Supervisors below.  

Applicants to the schemes should also contact the Invent Centre in DCU as research/IP agreements have to be in place between the institution and Enterprise Partner before the scholarship can commence. 

What the scholarship offers:

Awardees receive an annual package of up to  €24,00 per annum comprising of:

  • A scholarship stipend of €16,000 per annum or a contribution of €16,000 towards the workplace salary (EBP_
  • Fee contribution of up to  €5,505 or €4905 per annum (ie. DCU fees)
  • Research expense fund of  €2,250 per annum

The IRC co-funds two thirds of the cost for a postgraduate researcher to undertake research directly related to an organisation’s interests. It contributes €16,000 per annum towards the researcher costs. The enterprise partner commits an annual contribution of €8,000. 


The relevant deadlines are as follows:

1. The deadline for FAQs (address to scholarships.opportunities@dcu.ie) is 4pm (Irish time) on Wednesday 25th November 2020. (Applications to go on TORA by Thursday 26th November 2020).

2. The deadline for applications to both schemes is exactly 4pm (Irish time) on Wednesday 2nd December 2020.

3. The deadline for supervisor, referees and mentor submissions is exactly 4pm (Irish time) on Wednesday 9th December 2020.

4. The closing date for endorsement by the research office of the proposed host institution is exactly 4pm (Irish time) on Wednesday 16th December.

5. Where applicable, NGO application for first year fee waiver (EPS) - email: schemes@research.ie by 31st December 2020.

Results are expected to be announced in April 2021. Official start date is 1st September 2021.


Academic Supervisors/Enterprise Mentors/Referees

The Enterprise/Employment Mentor (person or persons designated by the partner as being responsible for supporting and mentoring the scholar in relation to the partner's involvement in the scheme) does not have to be pre-registered. As with last year, enterprise mentors can complete their participant form (like referees) after the candidate has added them to their application.

Primary Academic Supervisors who are not currently SUPERVISING an IRC scholar, will have to be pre-registered on the IRC online system, and they should email scholarships.graduatestudies@dcu.ie for this to happen. The step to remove the role of IRC supervisor for academics not currently supervising a research student was taken by the GSO to try and eliminate the number of random applications (where applicants have selected an academic supervisor on the online system without first consulting them). Any other roles that an academic may have with the IRC  will be unaffected - they won't lose access - and not having a supervisor role does not mean an academic is missing out on any information updates from the IRC.

Applicants will know if their  primary supervisor needs to be pre-registered as their details won't appear in the drop down list on the online system. Once added to the online application, primary supervisors can logon and view the draft but cannot submit the supervisor form until the student has submitted their final application to the IRC.

Applicants can add one secondary supervisor to their applications. In the event of joint Academic Supervision, the applicant must choose one to be the Principal Academic Supervisor. (Details of other supervisors can be written into the 'Proposed Research' section).

Applicants are to select 2 Referees who do not need to pre-register. Neither Referee can be the Primary Academic Supervisor or Enterprise Mentor however, if a secondary academic supervisor is included in the application, he or she can act as a Referee. Referees do not have to be academics but should be individuals who know the applicant sufficiently well to provide them with a reference, eg. a PI or mentor from any time in the applicant's career or education, a leader or member of a research team where the applicant has worked. Once saved to the online application, referees can logon and submit their form to the IRC (before the student has submitted the final application). Students should check that their referees received the email from the IRC.


All scholarships are to commence on 1st September 2021. Non-EU applicants must satisfy DCU's english language entrance requirements: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/english.shtml

For DCU supporting information applicants should contact the Graduate Studies Office or contact their supervisors/potential supervisors who have access to this information in Section 1 (SCHOLARSHIPS & FEES) of the Staff Resources GSO webpage.