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FORNY StudENT 2016 – pilot funding

Up to NOK 25 million in funding is available for student entrepreneurship projects in order to increase the number of entrepreneurs and successful companies based on ideas from students at universities and university colleges.

Other support Choose

Messages:

There have been some revisions to the text of the call for proposals for FORNY StudENT funding with an application deadline of 3 October 2016. In addition, more detailed information has been provided in the documents “FORNY StudENT funding – Template for project descriptions” and “FORNY StudENT funding – Application assessment criteria”. We recommend that applicants who have already begun preparing grant proposals for the 3 October deadline download the updated documents and revise their proposal accordingly.

The meetings for applicants selected to present their projects to the referee panel will be held on 10 and 11 November 2016.

(FORNY StudENT funding is a pilot scheme with an open-ended call for proposals. It is therefore possible that the text of this call may be revised. Notification of significant changes will be published on the FORNY2020 webpages and here under the “Messages” field in this call.)

Status:

Closed

Amount of funding presumed available for this call for proposals:

Up to NOK 25 million in 2016 (for projects with a timeframe of up to 12 months).

Guidelines and important considerations relevant to all types of applications in this call for proposals:


The Norwegian-language call for proposals is the legally binding version.

Application deadline

This call for proposals is open-ended, with two application submission deadlines in 2016. These are as follows:

  • For the first funding round in 2016, grant applications must be submitted by the latest Wednesday, 18 May, 23:59 CEST.
  • For the second funding round in 2016, grant applications must be submitted by the latest Monday, 3 October, 23:59 CEST.

The electronic application form is open and grant applications may be created and submitted throughout the duration of the call.

The aim of the funding scheme

The primary objective of the FORNY StudENT funding scheme is to increase the number of entrepreneurs and new successful companies based on ideas produced by students at Norwegian universities and university colleges. The scheme is intended to encourage entrepreneurship among students and highlight the career possibilities for students of developing their own concepts and companies. An ambition for FORNY StudENT funding is to promote a stronger innovation and entrepreneurship culture in the university and university college sector as well as to increase the number of knowledge-intensive jobs in Norway.

FORNY StudENT funding is a pilot scheme for 2016 which will contribute new insight on how the work to promote student entrepreneurship can be organised effectively and constructively – both by the Research Council and within the university and university college sector.

Target group

FORNY StudENT funding is targeted towards master’s students in the final phase of their studies and candidates that have recently completed their master’s degree at universities and university colleges. The candidates must:

  • have a knowledge-based idea with commercial potential;
  • have entrepreneurial skills and/or education in entrepreneurship;
  • seek scientific and commercial assistance to realise their idea;
  • want to work on realising their idea as a full-time project once they have completed their master’s degree.

One or more master’s students/candidates may be the originators of an idea, and as a general rule these individuals have the proprietary rights to that idea. Together they are to establish a project team and determine who will be the responsible project manager. Applications for Applications for FORNY StudENT funding may submitted at the earliest six months prior to the scheduled date of the project manager’s final master’s exams and at the latest 12 months after the project manager has completed these exams.

The project manager/project team must ensure that they have formal support for the project at a university or university college in Norway and the project must include a mentor team with scientific, entrepreneurial and marketing competencies. The project manager is not required to have studied or completed a master’s degree at the university or university college where the project has its formal support.

The project manager is encouraged to write the project description in collaboration with the project team, the university/university college and the mentor team.  

The role of the universities and university colleges

Applications for FORNY StudENT funding must be submitted by a university or university college on behalf of a student/group of students. Institutions may submit multiple applications on behalf of multiple students/groups of students.

In the case of conditional allocation of funding, it is a requirement that responsibility for the project is to be transferred to a company established by the student/group of students.

When a university or university college submits an application it implies that the institution believes that the student entrepreneurship project has potential and, if the project is awarded FORNY StudENT funding, agrees to:

  • participate in the project by providing an academic mentor;
  • come to an agreement regarding giving the project access to necessary infrastructure and equipment as well as provide work space for the project manager and project team, when needed;
  • submit a brief final report to the Research Council on the institution’s own contribution to the project.

Many universities and university colleges are already working actively to support students with innovative ideas. The FORNY StudENT scheme makes it possible for the institutions to boost the most promising student concepts and promote their realisation. All universities and university colleges participating under the scheme are required to be part of an ecosystem with competencies in entrepreneurship and commercialisation (Technology Transfer Office [TTO], research park, incubator, cluster, etc.) that the projects can be connected to via their project managers.

Project requirements

At a minimum, all projects must have a designated project manager, a designated academic mentor at the university/university college submitting the application, and a designated mentor with entrepreneurial/marketing competency.

It must be clarified who has the ownership of the idea the project is based on. This entails clarifying whether any individuals other than the project manager have rights to the idea as well as how the proprietary rights are distributed among the various idea originators.  

To be eligible for FORNY StudENT funding, the project manager and any other master’s students/candidates who are part of the project team must establish a limited company of which the project manager is the general manager. Companies that have already been established must not be more than two years old. The company must be wholly or partially owned (minimum 51 per cent) by the master’s student(s)/candidate(s), and a board of directors with the necessary expertise to support the company for the duration of the project period must be appointed. Grants from the Research Council will be disbursed to this company.1

During the course of the project period, the project must clarify questions relating to the business model, including commercial, business-related, conceptual and technological aspects, and the establishment and operation of a sustainable company. Activities may include:

  • confirming and verifying that the project idea can be implemented;
  • defining the customer groups for the product or service and determining how the company will approach these customers;
  • planning how to realise the innovation beyond the project period, such as by:
    • identifying the technical challenges that must be solved;
    • determining how to obtain necessary capital;
    • determining how to set up production, when this is relevant;
    • etc. 

A FORNY StudENT project can only be started up once the project manager has completed his or her master’s degree. 

Funding amount sought and disbursement

A maximum of NOK 1 million may be sought for each project. Funding is to cover the actual project costs for a period of up to 12 months, including payroll and development costs. The funding may not be used to finance the establishment of the master’s students’/candidates’ limited company.

Support will be awarded in accordance with Article 22 of the EU’s General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid. The article sets out a number of conditions for granting aid for start-ups. To be eligible for aid under the article, the company must not be more than five years old (this has been reduced to two years old under this call for proposals), have more than 10 employees or be part of a group of companies. For further details, please see the footnote.

Disbursements from the Research Council will take place in instalments of 50-30-20 per cent of the allocated amount. The first disbursement will take place at project start-up once the contract has been signed between the Research Council and the project manager on behalf of the company.

Projects with a timeframe of more than six months must submit a brief mid-term report documenting the progress of the project in relation to the project plan.

The final disbursement will be made after the project account report and the final report have been submitted and approved. The project account report must be prepared by a chartered accountant and only actual income and costs are to be entered. These should also be found in the company’s accounts.

Application requirements

The grant application must describe:

  • the idea on which the project will be based and an explanation of what makes the idea knowledge-based and innovative;
  • how the business potential of the idea will be realised, which needs the idea will help to satisfy, and who it is directed towards;
  • who has the proprietary rights to the idea;
  • who will participate in the further development of the idea: the project manager (master’s student/candidate) and the members of the project team;
  • who the project’s academic and commercial mentors are;
  • how the university/university college (applicant) will contribute to the project;
  • the planned activities throughout the project period, including two to three milestones;
  • the project budget and the planned activities to be funded during the project period.

For more information, see the designated template for the project description and the accompanying instructions.

Priorities and assessment criteria

The Research Council will give priority to projects that:

  • Have a clearly described knowledge-based idea with a high level of innovation. The application must provide/include an explanation of why the idea/innovation is needed or how such a need can be created.
  • Have significant commercial potential. A clear description of how the company will surpass its competitors and maintain its competitive advantages as well as plans for establishing a profitable business model must be provided.
  • Demonstrate a good understanding of who the customers are, their needs and what the idea can offer them.
  • Have a project team with the competence needed to carry out the project plan.
  • Describe what the university/university college will contribute to enable the student/group of students to commercialise their concept.
  • Have a high-quality grant proposal that plainly describes the project and includes a realistic plan for the project period with activities, milestones and estimates of how the funding will be used.

Assuming that all factors relating to scientific merit and relevance are otherwise equal, priority will be given to projects led by female project managers.
 

Footnote 1: The support provided to small and innovative start-ups constitutes state aid according to Article 61 of the EEA Agreement. The aid is considered to be consistent with Article 22 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014, published in the Official Journal of the European Union 26.6.2014, L 187/1 (applicable as Norwegian administrative regulation in accordance with the Administrative Regulation on State Aid: 1992.12.04 no. 0907).

In the context of the FORNY2020 programme, a newly-established company must fall within the European Commission’s definition of a micro-enterprise (cf. Annex I, Article 2(3) of the Regulation). It must be “an enterprise which employs fewer than 10 persons and whose annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet total does not exceed EUR 2 million”. A company is considered an autonomous micro-enterprise if it has a holding of less than 25% of the capital or voting rights (whichever is the higher) in one or more other enterprises and/or outsiders do not have a stake of 25% or more of the capital or voting rights (whichever is the higher) in the company. If the company does not qualify as autonomous, it must be determined whether it is a partner enterprise (an enterprise that holds at least 25%, but no more than 50% in another and/or another holds at least 25%, but no more than 50% in the enterprise) or a linked enterprise (an enterprise that holds more than 50% of the shareholders’ or members’ voting rights in another and/or another holds more than 50% in the enterprise). Depending on which category the company falls under, all or a proportion of the data of the other enterprises must be added to that of the company. The calculation of data is different for the two categories, and the result of this calculation will determine whether the company complies with the financial thresholds set by the definition of a micro-enterprise.

In addition, the company must not be listed on the stock exchange and cannot have been in existence for more than five years, i.e. no more than five years may have passed since the company was registered in the Register of Business Enterprises. The company may not have paid out dividends, and it cannot be the result of a merger. 

The maximum support that may be awarded is EUR 0.8 million (cf. Article 22 of the Block Exemption Regulation: Aid for start-ups).

For more information about the state aid rules, please see the information on the state aid rules on the Research Council website.