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Up to NOK 30 million to the hub of a virtual research centre for Responsible Research and Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility

The Research Council of Norway plans to establish a learning and development network for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), designed as a virtual centre with geographically distributed nodes and affiliated projects. This is the second phase of the call for proposals, and only those who have submitted a mandatory project outline are qualified to submit a complete application.

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13.02.2019 13:00 CET


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



Amount of funding presumed available for this call for proposals:

Up to NOK 30 million is available for the entire duration of the project period.

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

Only research institutions that have submitted a mandatory outline will be qualified to seek funding to establish the hub of the virtual centre.

Background for the initiative

Through the SAMANSVAR programme, the Research Council is announcing up to NOK 70 million for a learning and development network for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), designed as a virtual centre for RRI activities with geographically distributed nodes and affiliated projects. The nodes will consist of research institutions that carry out projects under the initiative. These projects must encompass CSR activities in consortia comprising research groups, companies and other users, such as non-governmental organisations and public sector entities. This hub/node model is employed in the National Centre for Digital Life under the BIOTEK2021 programme’s strategic initiative Digital Life – Convergence for Innovation. This initiative under the SAMANSVAR programme, will comprise a learning and development centre for RRI and CSR activities. The research centre is to generate new knowledge about RRI and CSR. Network-building, learning and dissemination will be carried out through nodes and affiliated projects in collaboration with the hub.

Who is eligible to apply?

Only research institutions with partners may submit a mandatory outline for the hub of the centre. Partners may be other research institutions or companies.

Thematic focus of the initiative

A more detailed description is available in the document Thematic focus of the initiative PDF - 128 KB .

Societal responsibility is of great importance in the restructuring processes facing the Norwegian economy and business sector. This initiative stresses how CSR and RRI may be used to integrate societal responsibility into companies’ core activities. Pilot projects are to be developed for learning across sectors and disciplines to engage societal challenges. Integrating different fields such as technology, social sciences and humanities will be a key focus. This will require approaches that will challenge the competence, skills and capacities of the private sector, research institutions, policy developers, the Research Council and researchers themselves, enhance the quality of strategic choices made. Emphasis will be placed on developing diagnoses and prospects in order to understand challenges and the scope of opportunities in the longer term, such as through opening up prerequisites for research and innovation activities in the form of assumptions and frameworks of understanding, uncertainty, complexity and dilemmas. The future-oriented approach is intended to provide directionality in research and innovation processes.

The following secondary objectives are key aspects of the initiative:

  • strengthen private-sector competence and capacity for engaging the grand societal challenges;
  • develop and strengthen researcher training and recruitment of young researchers, e.g. via existing researcher schools;
  • promote transdisciplinary research;
  • develop new forms of interaction where the authorities, public agencies in the research and innovation system, companies and civil society come together as partners to engage societal challenges.

Communication of research results, knowledge-sharing and networking will be important activities under the initiative.

Hub for the virtual centre – requirements and a more detailed description

NOK 30 million is available for the hub of the national centre for CSR and RRI. Applicants are to propose a hub/node structure for the centre (virtual centre), which will serve as an overall national initiative built on a portfolio of projects. Therefore, the centre does not need to be situated in a consolidated location.
Building knowledge about RRI and CSR is one central aim. Network-building, learning and dissemination will be carried out through nodes and affiliated projects in collaboration with the hub.

Requirements for the hub for the virtual centre:

  • The hub must have strong scientific leadership and serve as a national “flagship” for RRI.
  • The hub should promote dynamic synergies across research questions and institutions.
  • Geographically distributed as a hub with multiple affiliated nodes and projects.
  • The Project Owner must be a research organisation.
  • Minimum two partners in addition to the Project Owner institution.
  • The grant proposal must document that the project incorporates the strategic objectives and priorities of the applicant institution, and must describe ongoing activities (relevant R&D projects, teaching activities, infrastructure, etc.) that can support the centre’s activities. The hub must have strong support from business organisations.
  • The centre must incorporate a network function that will lay the foundation for shared expertise and resources, as well as link together the coming projects. Therefore, each affiliated project is required to include an activity (e.g. a work package or the like) that is directed towards such a network. The hub for the centre will take on the leadership role in this network.
  • National leadership and coordination (including tasks related to network functions and communication) are primarily responsibilities of the hub but are supported by activities in the nodes.
  • The centre must coordinate and build on existing expertise and infrastructure.
  • The institutions comprising the hub must document that they have access to expertise in research and innovation policy, RRI, Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (STI), future-oriented approaches and CSR.
  • The hub for the centre will have formal responsibility for operating the centre through its contract with the Research Council and the collaboration agreement with the participants. A steering committee for the centre must be established, with representatives of the centre partners. At least two steering committee members must be representatives of the business sector. The membership of the steering committee can be adapted in light of developments in the initiative.
  • It will be viewed as a strength if the institutions comprising the hub can participate with own financing and/or contributions in the form of in-kind contributions and other project activity that is brought under the auspices of the centre.
  • The centre’s period of operation will be five years. Funding from the Research Council will cease after this period, and the hub must take responsibility for securing funding for any continued activities.
  • The centre must actively engage in dialogue with the Research Council regarding the Council’s RRI activities, and participate in developing the framework for responsible research and innovation (RRI). Responsibility for implementing relevant aspects of the framework will be assigned to the hub for the centre.

Conditions for funding

Support from the Research Council to a research organisation is to be reserved for the organisation’s non-economic activity, and as such therefore does not constitute state aid. The Research Council requires a clear separation of accounts for the organisation’s economic and non-economic activities.

According to the state aid rules, support to an undertaking constitutes state aid. An “undertaking” in this context is defined as any actor that carries out an economic activity consisting of offering products or services on a given market. When an undertaking receives support to cover a portion of its project costs, either in the role as Project Owner or as a partner in the project, this support must be awarded in accordance with Article 25 of the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid (Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014).

Overseas research grants for fellowship-holders and extension of post-doctoral fellowships in connection with research stays abroad

Applicants may include overseas research grants for doctoral and post-doctoral fellowship-holders in the grant application. If the project is awarded funding, the Project Owner may also apply during the project period for overseas research grants and extension of post-doctoral fellowship periods corresponding to the length of the research stay abroad. See here for more information about the UTENLANDSSTIPEND scheme.

Priority will be given to projects that:

  • are led by women project managers, assuming all factors in competing grant applications are assessed as being equal.

Archiving of research data

The Project Owner (company/R&D organisation) is responsible for selecting the archiving solution(s) to use for storing research data generated during the project. The Project Owner must specify the planned solution(s) in connection with the revised grant proposal.