International Research Agendas

This programme gives top scientists, irrespective of their nationality, the opportunity to create a research unit (innovative center of excellence) in Poland, which will conduct world-class R&D activities focused on a specific and timely scientific challenge.

  • Amendment to the Competition Documentation no 3/2016. More information here.
  • 15.02.2017: Please note! Competition Documentation No 2/2015 and 3/2016, the International Research Agendas Programme, has been amended on the February 15, 2017. More information here.




selection proces_jpgGuide for applicants

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Programme description


The International Research Agendas programme is aimed at enabling the creation of research organizations (scientific units), which will be lead by scientists with considerable experience in science management as well as their own area of expertise, which will have international teams of renowned scientists from different fields who will conduct research in order to solve a specific global scientific challenge.

The grant should lead to the creation of highly specialized, world-class research centers which apply the best international practices with regards to:

  • HR policy
  • R&D management
  • Commercialisation of R&D results.

Research centres implementing the International Research Agendas programme will conduct their R&D work in line with a pre-approved research agenda. According to the progamme documentation the agenda has to highlight a specific scientific issue – a challenge and a means of addressing it. The challenge itself as well as the proposed means of solving it must be important enough so that the results of the research will be likely to be published in top scientific journals and presented at prestigious scientific meetings. The intellectual property developed over the course of the research should have the potential for legal protection and the developed solutions should be applicable. The suggested challenge must be contained within the National Smart Specialization framework (a list of NSS can be found in the downloads sections).

The scope of the proposed research as well as the project lead’s international standing are key for the research center’s success and it’s international scientific visibility.


The IRA programme is designed for distinguished researchers from Poland or abroad with recognized research achievements whose experience will ensure the effective functioning of the unit implementing the IRA.

Applicants should, if possible, represent the level of ERC Advanced Grant scientists and have profiles in line with those of applicants for directorial positions in leading scientific institutes in the world e.g. the Max Planck Institute, technological institutes in Cambridge (UK), MIT, etc.


The International Research Agendas programme is based on the Teaming for Excellence programme announced by the European Commission as part of Horizon 2020. It provides support for specialised, independent research units in Poland which will pursue international research agendas in strategic cooperation with renowned scientific institutions from other countries.

The total amount committed for the International Research Agendas programme under the Smart Growth Operational Programme (Measure 4.3) is about EUR 126 million. The Foundation anticipates funding approximately 10 units pursuing International Research Agendas.

The Foundation for Polish Science has declared its support for three applications in competition no. 1/2015  that can be jointly implemented with the Teaming for Excellence project once Horizon 2020 funding is secured. One IRA unit project will be implemented as a result of competition no. 2/2015.

Project funding will include costs of R&D work conducted by the unit implementing the IRA, costs connected with efficient functioning of the unit, costs of operating existing infrastructure, cooperation between partners, and knowledge transfer. However, support for new infrastructure will be limited to the purchase of essential laboratory equipment and fit-out.

Funding will also cover the costs of research staff development related to project implementation.

International Research Agendas Leaflet


The competition may be entered into by individual scientists from Poland or abroad, who will take on the responsibility for conducting the research in, as well as becoming the first director of, the research unit and will also be a group leader in one of the groups. In justified circumstances the application can be submitted by two scientists, in which case both will be group leader and the applicant indicated as the primary applicant will also be the director of the unit.

The applicant assumes responsibility for substantive implementation of the project, will become the director of the unit pursuing the IRA, and will be the leader of one of the research groups at the unit. In justified instances, an application may be filed by two researchers, when both applicants will serve as leaders of research groups and the applicant indicated in the application as the principal applicant will also be the director of the entire unit.

Selection procedure

Applications submitted in the competition will be evaluated on formal and merit-based terms. After receiving a positive formal evaluation, the application will be passed on for the merit-based evaluation, which takes place in three stages:

In the first stage, the application will be evaluated by a group of experts (The Scientific and Economic Panel) with appropriate research achievements and/or experience in implementing innovative R&D solutions.

In the second stage, the application will be evaluated by at least two external reviewers – experts in the field in which the unit is to conduct research.

In the third stage of the competition, the experts on the Interdisciplinary Panel of Experts will interview the applicant and a representative of the foreign partner unit indicated in the application. The panel will be composed of experts representing various fields of science as well as, optionally, an expert serving as an observer. The panel will then compare the applications, rank them, and evaluate them based on the adopted criteria.

The conditions for participation are the same for all participants and are described in detail in the competition documentation.

selection proces_jpgGuide for applicants


The Competition Documentation is the binding document with regards to the terms and conditions of the International Research Agendas programme. The Legal opinions should be depended on only to the extent to which they reflect the regulations of the Competition Documentation.

The English documentation for the IRA programme is only a translation. The Polish version is binding.

Additional information:


Application deadline

The first part of the application must be filed by 30 October 2016 at 4:00 pm.
The second part of the application must be filed by 16 December 2016 at 4:00 pm.
The third part of the application must be filed by 21 March 2017 at 4:00 pm.

Every part of the application must be filed in electronic form.

Kinga Slominska

Kinga Słomińska

Head of International Research Agendas Section

tel.: +48 22 845 95 46  


Maria Pawłowska, PhD

Programme Officer

tel.: + 48 22 311 84 30  


Judyta Węgrzyn, PhD

Programme Assistant

tel.: +48 22 311 84 39  

Additional info

Each unit, which will receive funding in the programme will carry out their proposed research agenda by way of a number of research groups, the work of which will be outlined in the application.

Group leaders will be recruited by means of an international competition run by the International Scientific Committee. The Committee will be composed of world-class scientific authorities in the filed represented by the unit as well as, when relevant, representatives of business with experience in collaboration with scientists in R&D projects or in implementing new technologies. The competitions for positions on the project must be conducted in line with the recruitment rules outlines in The European Charter for Researchers.

The results of the International Research Agendas Competition no 3/2016 are scheduled to be announced in the second quarter of 2017.

The programme is funded under axis IV of the Smart Growth Operational Programme, Measure 4.3.