Higher education institutions (HEIs) typically generate income from two main sources; student fees and research income. In contrast, the predominant waste streams in HEIs in general tend to be; (1) assignment/examination mark submission process, (2) photocopy process and (3) the funding application process. Although Lean Six Sigma (LSS) has been adopted by a number of HEIs in Ireland, very few have adopted an integrated LSS approach for waste reduction in the research grant application process. To identify wastes and challenges in the research grant application process within an Irish HEI in an EU environment, the authors used an online survey deployed to 240 academics and research staff. The survey had a response rate of 13%. In this paper, the authors present challenges and barriers currently perceived in the research grant application process in an Irish HEI. The participating HEI in this pilot study generated an annual income (including student fees and research income) exceeding €240million for the academic year 2017/2018. This paper identifies research waste in a HEI through a DMAIC Lean Six Sigma (LSS) lens of academic and researcher perspectives. The results from this study can be used to inform the next stage of the research where empirical studies will be carried out in other HEIs to develop a practical roadmap for the implementation of LSS as an operational excellence improvement methodology in the research grant application process.