How to Apply

Instructions for Applicants

Eligibility for Grants

Principal investigators must have completed their graduate studies at an accredited university (does not apply to doctoral student grants). 

Applicants for postdoctoral fellowships must have been awarded a doctoral degree within the past seven years before the grant application deadline. A copy of the doctoral degree certificate shall accompany the application, or alternatively be submitted by December 1, same year. Special circumstances, such as parental leave or illnesses that prevented research activities, and are specified in the applicant's CV, may be considered as grounds for exceptions to this rule. 

Applicants for doctoral student grants must have been admitted to doctoral studies at an Icelandic university and an attestation to that effect from the student registry of the University of Iceland or comparable offices in other Icelandic universities shall accompany the application.

International research collaboration and industrial partners are welcomed in applications. Grants can, however, only be paid into accounts of Icelandic institutions or companies. 

Funds from the IRF may be used for co-funding of international research projects with a similar focus.

Applications must meet all stated eligibility criteria in order to be reviewed. If it becomes clear during the evaluation process that one or more of the eligibility criteria have not been met, the application is declared ineligible and is withdrawn from any further examination.


The call for grant applications to the IRF is announced at least 6 weeks before the deadline. The due date for applications is 20 June 2019.

Types of Grants

There are four grant types: project grants, grants of excellence, postdoctoral fellowship grants and doctoral student grants (Table 1), and these grants are awarded for up to 36 months. 

Projects that are the subject of grants of different types may overlap, provided that there is a match between the scope of the project and the project budget

Thus, it is possible to submit separate applications for a grant of excellence and a project grant for projects with similar or overlapping aims, provided that there is a match between the scope of the project and the project budget in both applications. The IRF reserves the right to fund only one project with overlapping aims. 

Type of grant Maximum length (in months) Maximum amount (ISK)
Grant of excellence 36 120,000,000
Project grant 36 45,000,000
Postdoctoral fellowship grant 36 24,000,000
Doctoral student grant 36 16,000,000

Table 1. Grant types, maximum time and maximum amount of grants (excluding overhead expenses and facilities).                                           

A fairly even cost distribution is expected from one grant year to the next. 


Project grants are intended for research projects. The maximum grant amount for a project grant is ISK 45 million for a 36-month project, ISK 30 million for a 24-month project, and ISK 15 million for a 12-month project. The grant from the IRF may fund up to 85% of the total cost of the project.


Grants of excellence are intended for extensive research projects that are likely to establish Icelandic research as leading on an international level. Grants of excellence are intended for research teams, and therefore the application shall include co-applicants or other participants in addition to a principal investigator/principal investigators. It is assumed that projects of excellence will involve training of young scientists with contributions from a graduate student and/or post-doctoral researchers. Confirmed collaboration with foreign scientists and institutions is likely to strengthen the application.  Grants of excellence are provided for up to 36 months. The maximum grant amount for projects is ISK 120 million for a 36-month project, ISK 80 million for a 24-month project, and ISK 40 million for a 12-month project. The grant from the IRF may fund up to 85% of the cost of a project.


The purpose of the postdoctoral fellowship grant is to help young research scientists to develop their academic careers.

The eligible applicant must have obtained an invitation from a host institution, preferably different from the institution awarding the doctoral degree, prior to the submission deadline. The maximum grant amount for projects is ISK 24 million for a 36-month project, ISK 16 million for a 24 month project, and ISK 8 million for a 12-month project. The grant from the IRF may fund up to 100% of the total project cost. The applicant must explain how the fellowship fits with previous work of the applicant, how it will enhance his/her career development, and provide information about future research plans after the grant period. If the grant recipient accepts another position during the grant period, the grant payments will be terminated at the start date of the new position.


Doctoral student grants are intended for doctoral students who apply under their own names. The grants cover the students' salaries as well as travel costs for up to 300,000 ISK per grant year. All other costs in relation to the project must be covered by the supervisor/institution. Doctoral student grants are provided for up to 36 months. The maximum grant amount is ISK 16 million for a 36-month project, ISK 10.6 million for a 24-month project, and ISK 5.3 million for a 12-month project. The grant from the IRF may fund up to 100% of the total eligible project cost. It is possible to apply for funding of salaries of doctoral students in project grants and grants of excellence, however the same student cannot receive funding for more than 12 man-months per year. The doctoral degree must be awarded by an Icelandic university, but a joint degree with a foreign University is also allowed. Projects for up to 3 years can be funded, with a possible one-year extension. Up to 15 doctoral student grants will be provided.

Approved Expenses  


Grants can be used to fund salaries of researchers, graduate students and technical staff. Participating researchers may be unidentified at time of application, but work assignments for all persons involved in the project must be detailed in the budget if the application includes funding for their salaries. The IRF does not fund payments of overtime worked in research nor payment of salaries to parties who are also receiving full pay for other work (including pensioners). 


Applicants can apply for funding for financing expenses due to necessary resources for the project, excluding items concerning overhead expenses and facilities, e.g. general office equipment such as computers. All operational expenses and expenses due to purchase of equipment shall be itemized in the correct field in the table. Price quotes from sellers/producers in connection with equipment purchase shall accompany the application. Note that all unexplained cost will be rejected. 

Equipment for up to ISK 2 million can be included in each application as operational expenses. Applications for costly instruments and equipment shall be submitted to the Infrastructure fund. Please note that the minimum amount for an application to the Infrastructure fund is ISK 2 million. 


This item consists of the total sum of travel necessary for the progress of the project. All travel expenses must be justified and their relation to the project goal(s) clearly explained. 


This item consists of work not carried out by the participants in the project, which is necessary for the project's progress. Publication costs of up to ISK 500,000 can be applied for during the project period under this item. All expenses due to contracted services shall be itemized in the correct field in the electronic application form. Tenders for contracted services shall accompany the application. It is not possible to apply for financing of overhead expenses and facilities in relation to contracted services. 


Applicants can apply for funding for financing overhead and facilities for up to 25% on top of total cost of the project, excluding contracted services and equipment cost. Overhead expenses include costs related to, for example, office and research facilities, rent, utilities, support and auxiliary functions, purchases of literature, and purchases and maintenance of IT equipment and infrastructure such as computers. This amount is added to the grant amount applied for, and therefore the total amount can be higher than what is indicated as the maximum grant amount.

What to Include in the Application

Attachments A and B must be submitted without exception, and attachments C-G must be submitted where appropriate. A template for attachment A is available in the electronic application system of the Icelandic Centre for Research.

The review of the application will solely be based on the information supplied in the application and relevant accompanying attachments. No documents are accepted after the closing of the application deadline. Applications with incorrect templates for attachment A will be rejected from the review process. Incomplete applications can be rejected at any time in the review process. 

All applications must be submitted through the electronic application system of the Icelandic Centre for Research. 

Attachment A. Project description

A template for attachment A is available in the electronic application system of the Icelandic Centre for Research. The path to the template can always be found by selecting “home” at the bottom of the web page in the application system. To ensure equal treatment of applications, the IRF reserves the right to reject all applications that are not completed using the correct and most up-to-date form and template.

The form is divided into predefined sections, which should not be altered. Before the project description is uploaded into the application system, the list of references shall be detached and placed in a separate file. These two files shall be uploaded separately as pdf-files. The application system counts the number of pages of the file containing the project description, but the pages of the file containing the bibliography will not be counted. The project description itself shall not be more than 20 pages for grants of excellence, 15 pages for project grants, 12 pages for postdoctoral fellowship grants and 5 pages for doctoral student grants. The project description file also includes two pages: a title page and an instructions page. The maximum page number that the online application system will accept for the project description files

(excluding bibliography but including title page and instructions page) is therefore 22 pages for grants of excellence, 17 pages for project grants, 14 pages for postdoctoral fellowship grants, and 7 pages for doctoral student grants.

In order to facilitate the expert review of the application it is important that the project description is of good quality. The factors that are used for reference in the assessment can be viewed in the instructions for external reviewers. The following points should be kept in mind:

  • It is imperative that the project has well defined research questions/hypotheses and objectives, and has been divided into well-defined work packages.
  • Each work package of the project should be described individually, their respective connections explained, and the time necessary for each work package estimated.
  • Research methods shall be described in detail, and the reasons for choosing the specific methods stated. The methodology used for data collection, analysis and interpretation must be justified.
  • Project milestones should be specified in the description. With regard to projects where funding is sought for two or three years, the milestones at the end of the first, second and third grant year shall be defined and described.
  • Any collaboration within the project should be explained, both between the different scientists and researchers, and whether there is an active co-operation between universities, departments, institutions and companies. International collaboration, if any, should be detailed separately.
  • Information, if applicable, on which parts of the project are executed by doctoral or master's students should be included, as well as information on the department in which the students conduct their studies, and what the students' contribution to the project entails.
  • Explanations and justifications should be given for the expected benefit and utilization of the results of the project. The benefit could be knowledge-related, environmental, economic, social, etc. The deliverables of the projects should be measurable "units" resulting from the project. Examples of deliverables include: published scientific articles and other scholarly publications, university diplomas, software, databases, prototypes, production methods, new products, patents, models, research methods, supported scientific theories, etc.
  • Furthermore, it should be explained in the application how the results would be promoted, as well as their publications in expert journals, reports, conferences, etc., and whether, and then how, the proprietary rights to the results would be protected. The manner in which laws regarding open access to findings will be enforced shall be detailed.
  • Possible ethical considerations in carrying out the project should be addressed.

Attachment B. Curriculum vitae

The CV shall include information on current employment status, education and training, supervision of graduate students, prior positions and awards, a list of relevant publications, and a link to a database of information on h-index or comparable. Any gaps in research activity due to sickness, parental leave or other reasons should be noted. The CV should ideally be succinct, and not detail information that is irrelevant to the evaluation of the application.

Attachment C. Letter of intent

A signed letter of intent from “other participants” in the application, where it is specified what their role in the project will entail. A letter of intent is not needed from co-proposers as their CV is attached to the application and they are notified upon submission of application.

Attachment D. Declaration from host institute (required for Postdoctoral fellowship grant applications)

A letter of declaration from a host institute confirming that the applicant will have the use of work facilities there if the grant is awarded

Attachment E. Doctoral degree certificate (required for Postdoctoral fellowship grant applications)

This certificate must be submitted no later than December 1, the year of the application submittion. This applies to postdoctoral fellowship grant applications.

Attachment F. Confirmation of acceptance of doctoral students (required for doctoral student grant applications)

A confirmation from the student registry of the University of Iceland, or comparable offices in other Icelandic universities, stating that the applicant has been accepted for doctoral studies. 

Attachment G. Price quote

If equipment costs or contracted service are applied for, price quotes from the vendor or the service supplier must accompany the proposal.

Review of New Applications

Applicants are advised to carefully read Sections 3-5 in the Handbook: The review process, The Expert Panel guidelines, and The External review-guidelines, where the evaluation criteria used by the Expert Panels and external reviewers are described.

IRF Expert Panels  

Seven Expert Panels review the applications (table 2). Seven active scientists make up each Expert Panel, and they are selected for their expert knowledge in the relevant field. In the application form, the applicants select the Expert Panel in which they wish the application to be evaluated. The staff of the Icelandic Centre for Research may suggest a different Expert Panel for an application, but no application is transferred between Expert Panels without explicit prior consent from the principal investigator. See Section 4: Expert Panel guidelines, for additional information on the work of Expert Panel members.

Expert Panel Scientific category 
Physical sciences and mathematics

Physical sciences

Chemical sciences


Earth and related environmental sciences


Engineering and technical sciences

Industrial Biotechnology

Environmental engineering

Computer and information sciences

Environmental biotechnology

Civil engineering

Materials engineering

Mechanical engineering

Medical engineering

Electrical engineering, electronic engineering, information engineering

Chemical engineering

Other engineering and technologies

Natural and environmental sciences

Biological sciences (plant sciences, botany, zoology, ornithology, entomology, behavioral sciences biology, marine biology, freshwater biology, limnology, ecology, biodiversity conservation, evolutionary biology)

Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries

Agriculture and biotechnology

Other agricultural sciences

Animal and dairy science

Other natural sciences

Veterinary sciences

Biomedical sciences

Basic medicine

Biological sciences (cell biology, immunology, microbiology, virology, biochemistry, molecular biology, biochemical research methods, mycology, biophysics, genetic and heredity)

Clinical sciences and public health

Clinical medicine

Public health

Health sciences

Other medical sciences

Health biotechnology

Social sciences and educational sciences

Economics and business

Educational sciences


Other social sciences

Political Science

Social and economic geography


Media and communications


Humanities and arts

History and archaeology

Languages and literature

Art (arts, history of arts, performing arts, music)

Other humanities

Philosophy, ethics and religion

Table 2. IRF Expert Panels

Questions regarding individual Expert Panels and scientific categories shall be directed to the staff of the Icelandic Centre for Research. Applicants may under no circumstances be in contact with Expert Panel members during the review process.

Pluridisciplinary (Multi-, Inter-, and Transdiciplinary) Proposals

Pluridisciplinary projects interweave subject matters, theories, and/or research methods from more than one discipline. When applying for a grant for a pluridisciplinary project, applicants shall choose the Expert Panel which they consider best suited to consider the application, but shall also indicate other relevant disciplines that will be considered in the selection of external reviewers. In order for an application to be considered pluridisciplinary, it must include applicants with expertise in all disciplines identified in the application.

Announcement to the Research Manager

When an application is submitted to the application system, the relevant research manager, or the party assigned to act in the research manager's place, shall be provided with information about the name and number of the application, along with the name of the principal investigator.

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