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.


FNP Board-issued recommendations for IRAP unit directors 

Winners announced for the Poland-wide IRAP competition

Update of the Cost Eligibility Guide in IRA Programme from 25.06.2018 r.

Humanities and social sciences included in Poland’s National Smart Specializations

Presentation – Info Day 17.05.2018


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 International Research Agenda Programme can also serve to support projects realized under the Teaming competition, which constitutes one of the activities under the Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme. Participants in the Teaming programme interested in submitting applications to the Foundation are encouraged to read the description and competition documentation of the IRAP PLUS module: link.


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 designated for funding International Research Agendas projects under the Smart Growth Operational Programme (Measure 4.3) is approx. EUR 126 million. So far support has been awarded to 11 establishments implementing an International Research Agendas project. In competition No. 2/2015 one project was selected; as a result of competition No. 3/2016 three projects received funding, three further projects were awarded support as part of competition No. 4/2017, three more in competition No. 8/2017 and one in competition No. 10/2018.

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


Applications may be submitted by one or, in justified cases, two applicants from Poland or abroad.

In the case of an application that, for instance, covers interdisciplinary research and is submitted by two applicants, the form should specify the main applicant who assumes all the requirements and duties of the head of the unit implementing International Research Agenda.

The first applicant will perform the function of the head of the unit implementing International Research Agendas Programme (depending on the legal form of the unit – e.g. chairman of the foundation or director). The second applicant may request the position of research group team leader or research coordination director at the new centre. Each of the applicants will be fully engaged in implementing International Research Agendas project, and should be employed by the new unit for at least 50% of a full time equivalent.

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 terms and conditions of participation are the same for all applicants and are described in detail in two separate competition documents for the programme, including documentation dedicated to the IRAP PLUS module (link) for applicants who are also applying for funding under the Teaming Programme.


Due to the extensive, multi-level competition procedure in the International Research Agendas Programme, the results of the competition will not be published all at once, but successively, after completion of the competition procedure, for each applicant.

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.


There are no future calls planned as part of this program.
For further information about possibilities for conducting research in Poland please check the job openings in our recipients' projects.


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




Competition for funding the purchase of specialist equipment

We kindly announce that the call for applications was reopened on 27 June 2018.

NOTE! The scope of possible changes is described in detail in the updated document entitled Supplement to Competition Documentation_SPECIALIST EQUIPMENT (version dated 25 June 2018).

As part of the competition, funding will be provided for the purchase of specialist equipment, understood as a set of testing, measurement or laboratory devices with a low degree of universality and high technical parameters.

It is possible to purchase equipment necessary for the significant development of a project implemented under the International Research Agendas programme and/or for the development of the R&D human resources engaged in the project.

Applications are welcome from International Research Agendas project managers, acting jointly with the research unit where the project is being carried out.

The amount requested for the purchase of equipment should not exceed PLN 3,500,000. In justified cases, the Foundation may accept applications for amounts exceeding the above limit.

International Research Agendas project managers may file more than one application.


Additional materials:

Webinar “How to submit an application for funding the purchase of specialized equipment”: link.


Files to download

Archived files for download