International Research Agendas, PLUS Module (IRAP PLUS)


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. The PLUS Module of the International Research Agendas programme supports projects carried out as part of the Teaming competition held by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme.


FNP Board-issued recommendations for IRAP unit directors 

New centres of excellence in Łódź and Otwock

We wish to kindly inform you that the Board of the Foundation accepted a modified Competition Documentation for competitions IRAP PLUS 7/2017 and 9/2017.

The modified Documentation for Competition 7/2017 is available in the section for applicants of that competition (“Files to download” section).


The PLUS module of the International Research Agendas programme (IRAP PLUS) is aimed at enabling high-quality research and development work focused on current, relevant, well-defined scientific challenges and led by international teams composed of prominent scientists from Poland and abroad, representing diverse research fields. The PLUS Module of the International Research Agendas programme supports projects carried out as part of the Teaming competition held by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme. Participation in IRAP PLUS is limited to applicants who seek to implement an IRAP project at a unit supported as part of stage 2 of the Teaming competition.

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

  • Identifying research programmes and themes
  • HR policy and R&D management
  • Commercialisation of R&D results.

Scientific centres implementing the International Research Agendas programme will conduct their R&D work in line with a pre-approved research agenda. This agenda has to highlight a specific challenge (research problem) of a scientific or social and economic nature as well as the method of work and approach to dealing with the defined problem. The challenge itself as well as the proposed means of solving it must be innovative, competitive and interesting enough for the scientific community, 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 project 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 section).

The scope and quality of the proposed research are key for the research center’s success and its international scientific visibility.

The projects carried out within the IRAP PLUS module consist of two distinct stages:

  • Part 1 – a period of R&D work not exceeding 18 months, which shall be used to prepare for the implementation of tasks in research groups in part 2 of the IRAP project or to develop measurement or research methods which will be applied during the implementation of part 2 of the project.
  • Part 2 – a period not exceeding 5 years for the implementation of the research tasks described in the complete research agenda, commencing on the day when the IRAP Unit Manager, selected in an open competition, assumes office.


IRAP PLUS applications should be submitted by tandems of researchers, where both the first and the second applicant have the kind of recognised scientific achievements and experience in managing research units that will ensure that the new IRAP unit hold a prominent position among similar research centres around the world, and in particular will encourage high-level scientists from Poland and abroad to work in the new centre.


The International Research Agendas scheme, co-financed from the Smart Growth Operational Programme (Measure 4.3) is based on the Teaming for Excellence programme announced by the European Commission as part of Horizon 2020. Similarly to the Teaming programme, IRAP 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 implementation of projects within the PLUS module of the International Research Agendas programme is PLN 180 mln.

Project funding in the IRAP PLUS module will include costs of R&D work conducted by the unit implementing the International Research Agenda, 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, such as training and stipends.


Applications in the IRAP PLUS competition are submitted by two applicants – outstanding researchers who have at least a PhD degree and are citizens of Poland or any other country, including those from outside the European Union.

The first applicant will act as the President of the International Scientific Committee in the IRAP Unit (ISC), whose responsibilities include the selection of the IRAP Unit Manager for the 2nd part of the project.

The second applicant shall serve the function of the Scientific Affairs Director at the IRAP unit and will not lead his or her own research team. Until a scientist selected by the International Scientific Committee assumes his or her duties as IRAP Unit Manager, this role shall be carried out during part 1 of the project by the Scientific Affairs Director.


Applications in the competition are to be submitted in electronic form and will be evaluated on formal and merit-based terms. The application proces is divided into two phases – parts 1 and 2 of the application are submitted at the same time, while part 3 is submitted separately, at a later date.

After receiving a positive formal evaluation, the application will be passed forward for the merit-based evaluation, which, in the case of the IRAP PLUS module, takes place in three stages: assessment by a scientific and economic panel, written reviews, and finally an interview with an interdisciplinary panel of experts.

In the first stage, the application will be evaluated by a group of international 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 IRAP unit is to conduct research.

In the third and final 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.


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 of the IRAP PLUS module is the binding document with regards to the terms and conditions of the International Research Agendas programme, PLUS Module. Any 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


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 field 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


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 (including the IRAP PLUS module) and/or for the development of the R&D human resources engaged in the project.

In the case of the IRAP PLUS module, the IRAP unit may apply for funding the purchase of specialist equipment during the second phase of the implementation of the project. Additionally, in compliance with the “Supplement to Competition Documentation for the International Research Agendas Programme Regarding Competition for Funding the Purchaseof Specialist Equipment” the submission of such an application is only possible after the completion of the recruitment process for the leader of the IRAP unit as well as after the recruitment of the research team leader in the IRAP unit. The funding will be granted on the basis of the detailed supplement to the competition documentation available below.

Supplement to Competition Documentation_SPECIALIST EQUIPMENT (version dated 25 June 2018).

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

Archived files for download