SDG Challenge 2022

Deadline: 22nd September 2022

Deadline: 22nd September 2022

Applications for the SDG Challenge 2022 are now accepting sustainable solutions. Submit your application today to compete for a €1 million grand prize.

The SDG Challengeis an opportunity for research teams to develop innovative solutions relating to challenges associated with climate, biodiversity and the environment. Funding is available for collaborative research teams based in Ireland and Irish Aid partner countries.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call to action for all countries, in partnership, to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.  Achieving the SDGs lies at the heart of Ireland’s international development policy, A Better World, as well as being part of SFI’s strategy, Shaping our Future, to deliver tangible benefits for society. With these common goals, Irish Aid (Department of Foreign Affairs) entered a partnership with SFI in 2021 to establish the SDG Challenge

Challenge Theme:

The SDG Challenge 2022 call will support solutions that contribute to SDG 13: Climate Action, and related goals and targets. Protection and restoration of nature will be essential in addressing climate change and ensuring future resilience. Recognising the interconnectedness between climate, biodiversity and the environment, the challenge theme also encompasses SDG 14: Life below water and SDG 15: Life on land.

Whilst three SDGs are highlighted, it is evident that climate change cross-cuts all SDGs. This challenge theme encompasses adaptation and resilience, climate mitigation, environmental protection and restoration, pollution of soil, water and air, biodiversity loss, blue economy, nature-based solutions, amongst others, but applicants are also encouraged to consider where STEM-led solutions could be impactful in areas such as climate justice, climate finance, and digital inclusion as relevant to climate action.

  • Teams will receive up to €300k and will work through a series of phases to develop their idea.
  • An overall prize award of €1M will be awarded to the team that demonstrates the highest potential for transformative impact.
  • Following successful application, selected core teams will have the opportunity to build a broader challenge team. In addition, funded teams will be assigned a liaison in Irish Aid or one of their overseas missions to further inform the development and deployment of their solution, facilitate access to stakeholder networks and to provide relevant policy context


  • The SDG Challenge is intended to support highly motivated, transdisciplinary teams committed to developing transformative, sustainable solutions that will contribute to addressing development challenges under the UN SDGs in Irish Aid’s partner countries. It is expected that teams will encompass a range of technical and non-technical skills to address barriers associated with challenge definition and solution deployment, and that they will represent collaborative and equitable partnerships between researchers in Ireland and the partner country. 
  • Teams must include expertise in the STEM research area underpinning the proposed solution, but should also include knowledge or experience in areas such as, for example, international development, development economics, or behavioural or social sciences, in order to inform the adoption and impact of novel interventions. 
  • Applications to the prize must identify a core applicant/leadership team comprising a minimum of three or maximum of four members:

Team Lead (mandatory): to provide technical leadership and to have overall responsibility for delivery of research programme objectives. It is expected that the Team Lead has a demonstrable track record relevant to the proposed solution and must be based in a SFI eligible research body.

Partner Country Team Co-Lead (mandatory): to provide technical leadership, bringing research expertise relevant to the application. The Partner Country Team Co-Lead must be based in an eligible HEI or RPO in the partner country.

Team Co-Lead (optional): to provide complementary leadership and expertise to that of the Team Lead. The Team Co-Lead must be based in a SFI eligible research body.

Societal Impact Champion (optional): to provide non-technical leadership and support to identify and validate challenges in addition to advising on solution development. It is envisaged that the Societal Impact Champion will come from a non-academic sector and have appropriate experience in areas relevant to the societal impact and international development focus of the application.

  • Eligible partner countries for this SDG Challenge Call are: South Africa, Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda, Vietnam, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and Sierra Leone.
  • Solutions must demonstrate context-specific impact in one of the eligible partner countries where Ireland’s ODA is directed, but applicants are also encouraged to consider shared challenges where solutions may have wider impact.

Applications to this programme should provide information on four key areas:


  • Applicants should provide a clear description on how, through its composition, complementarity and formation, the team brings a unique perspective in addressing this problem.
  • Applicants are advised not to provide biographies of team members rather to convey the team’s ambition and its ability to deliver. Information on the team will be complemented by the curricula vitae submitted as part of the application.


  • Applicants should describe clearly the specific challenge/problem that will be addressed, articulate their understanding of it and identify key issues or barriers in addressing this problem. This should include consideration of the specific context of this challenge in the partner country.
  • As part of this description, insights from engaging with stakeholders/beneficiaries and how this has validated the problem should be included. Applicants may also include information on the wider relevance of the proposed challenge/problem beyond the partner country.


  • Applicants should clearly describe the solution proposed. This should include a description of how the proposed solution is novel and/or unconventional in its approach, what is its current stage of technical development, what is the current state-of-the-art and how will the proposed approach overcome current barriers.
  • Applicants should include consideration of ethical or regulatory issues where relevant. Evidence that the solution is feasible/viable associated risks should be provided. Applicants may consider providing a number of high-level milestones/deliverables (and achievement times).

Societal Impact:

  • Applicants should outline the societal impact that their proposed solution can achieve in the partner country and more broadly. What outcomes will your solution deliver and what is the timeframe for delivery of this?

visit official webpage to apply & for further details.

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