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Collaboration agreements

In the case of projects involving partners, the Project Owner must enter into written collaboration agreements with all partners. This applies to both Norwegian and international partners. Collaboration agreements are to be completed at the latest within three months after the Research Council has sent the contract to the Project Owner. The Research Council will not disburse any funds until the collaboration agreements have been received.

Basis for drawing up collaboration agreements

  • The collaboration agreements are to regulate the reciprocal rights and obligations of the Project Owner and partners in the project.
  • The Research Council communicates directly with the Project Owner alone, and is not party to the collaboration agreements.
  • The Research Council does not stipulate special requirements for the content of the collaboration agreements, except with regard to certain aspects involving the distribution of rights in the project; see below.
  • It is up to the parties to determine the appropriate format for and content of the collaboration agreement for the individual project.
  • Unless otherwise specified, the Project Owner may choose to draw up one common collaboration agreement or individual collaboration agreements for projects with multiple partners.
  • The Project Owner is responsible for ensuring that the collaboration agreements comply with the terms and conditions of the contract.
  • The Project Owner is responsible for ensuring that the partners are informed at all times regarding relevant elements of the contract with the Research Council.
  • The Project Owner has the main responsibility for ensuring compliance with the reporting requirements stipulated by the Research Council. The collaboration agreement must regulate the cooperation among partners in a manner that provides adequate documentation for fulfilling these reporting requirements.
  • The Project Owner is responsible for making certain that the collaboration agreements are designed so as to ensure that the sum of the direct and indirect state aid to collaborating enterprises does not exceed the maximum aid intensity set out in the EU state aid rules.

Partners are institutions, companies and other types of enterprise (as well as any designated individuals) that the Research Council, in its contract with the Project Owner, has stipulated are under obligation to provide professional or financial resources for the implementation of the project.

The role of partners is considered to be so essential to project implementation that any changes in the composition of the partners will require the prior written approval of the Research Council. The competency and participation of the partners are important factors when assessing project quality, and may have played a decisive part in the decision to grant funding to the project.

Both the Project Owner and the partners are permitted to engage sub-contractors to perform individual tasks under the project within the parameters set out in the contract. However, the individual partner and/or the Project Owner remain responsible for ensuring that the obligations stipulated in the contract are met. The partner is responsible vis-à-vis the Project Owner, and the Project Owner is responsible vis-à-vis the Research Council.

Partner or sub-contractor?
The main distinction between a sub-contractor and a partner is that a sub-contractor is only under obligation to a partner or the Project Owner to help to carry out a specific, delimited task in connection with the project.

  • A sub-contractor is responsible only for a specific, delimited task and not for the implementation of the project as a whole.
  • Sub-contractors are not to be parties to collaboration agreements with the Project Owner and/or the partners.
  • Sub-contractors are not to be listed as partners in the application form or named in the contract with the Research Council.
  • Sub-contractors deliver their services to the project based on an ordinary commission contract adapted to the assignment in question.
  • Sub-contractors may not be granted any rights to project results. The contract with the sub-contractor must be designed to clearly indicate that all results of the commission go to the Project Owner and/or a partner.
  • The Research Council does not concern itself with the use of sub-contractors in a project. The Project Owner and the partners are thus basically free to engage such sub-contractors and terminate their use.

Regulation of rights to project results
The Research Council stipulates certain requirements for the regulation of ownership and rights to project results in a collaboration agreement. These requirements build on the Principles for the Research Council of Norway’s Policy on Intellectual Property Rights PDF - 36 KB and are set out in Sections 7.2 and 7.3 of the General Terms and Conditions for R&D Projects PDF - 549 KB .

Examples of collaboration agreements – templates for use
The Research Council has created templates for collaboration agreements; see the links in the column at right. These templates are not exhaustive and should only serve as a framework which project participants can use as they draw up their own collaboration agreements. The structure and wording of the templates should primarily be used as a check list, and the project participants must confer and give careful consideration to the need for additions and adaptations.

Value Added Tax on transactions between partners in a project
The Research Council is often asked whether Value Added Tax (VAT) is to be paid on transactions between partners in a project. The answer to this question will vary, depending on the situation and the type of collaboration. There is as of yet no final clarification of this issue with regard to financial contributions from the partners.

Further distribution of the grant award from the Research Council
According to a statement by the Ministry of Finance, Research Council grants awarded to Project Owners are not defined as “supply” that is liable to VAT. Section 3, paragraph 1 litra a of the Act relating to Value Added Tax defines "supply" as the delivery of goods or services in return for a consideration. In projects involving partners, the portion of the grant award distributed to the partners will also not be liable to VAT, provided that the Project Owner “does not have the sole responsibility for project content, achieving project results and the like, but that this is the shared responsibility of all of the project partners.”

Procurement of services
R&D services procured by the Project Owner from another institution are defined as supply liable to VAT.

Financial contributions from partners
In a statement to the Research Council, the Tax Administration has concluded that it is the responsibility of the Project Owner to ensure that VAT is calculated for financial contributions from partners. The Research Council has asked the Ministry of Finance for a new review of the issue, arguing that a contribution from a company partner cannot be directly measured against a return consideration and as such lacks a key element of the definition of “supply” given in Chapter 1 Section 3, paragraph 1 litra a of the Act relating to Value Added Tax.

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