Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project – Guide for Applicants

Collaborative and Knowledge-building Projects are to develop new knowledge and generate research competence needed by society or the business sector to address important societal challenges. Projects under this application type require collaboration between research groups and relevant actors from outside the research sector.

This application type encompasses two major joint calls for proposals, and some individual thematic calls. The requirements, guidelines, assessment criteria and application processing procedures will be the same for all individual calls under this application type.

Joint calls for proposals with the deadline 17 February 2021:

It is important to note which thematic areas are included under each call. You will find these listed under the heading ‘Relevant thematic areas for this call’. Applicants must target the grant application towards one of these thematic areas. If you do not find a relevant topic for your field of research, we recommend checking out the annual research project calls for proposals.

The following provides an overview of the specific features of the application type Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project. A full description of the requirements for grant applications will be provided in the call for proposals.

What does a Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project comprise?

  • Collaborative and knowledge-building projects help to develop new knowledge and build the research expertise needed by stakeholders in society and/or business and industry to address important societal challenges.
  • The projects stimulate and encourage collaboration between research groups and actors from outside the research sector.
  • Projects promote new knowledge and competence-building in Norwegian research groups in priority areas.
  • The research can be of a basic and/or applied nature, and benefits broad segments of society.
  • The projects are either at or close to the research front and should therefore normally include cooperation with leading international specialist groups, thus entailing significant benefits for the Norwegian groups involved.
  • Research results are to be made accessible through sharing and publication in line with the Research Council’s Policy on Open Science.
  • Projects normally involve recruitment positions (doctoral and/or post-doctoral fellowships).

Who is eligible to apply?

Approved Norwegian research organisations may apply for funding under calls for Collaborative and Knowledge-building Projects. The calls require cooperation between the research organisation and actors from outside the research sector.

Partners and their role in the project

Applications are to be prepared in cooperation between the Project Owner (research organisation) and a group of partners representing the specific challenge the project seeks to resolve.

Partners are to be involved in the planning, steering and execution of the project to ensure that the research questions, activities and results are of relevance and benefit to society. See the fact box below on the requirements relating to effective collaboration. Project partners may be public sector entities, non-governmental organisations, actors in trade and industry and/or other private organisations. Sole proprietorships are not eligible as project partners. Partners must be registered in the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises.

Partners that do not normally carry out research may take part in defining the project, discussing issues that arise, providing input as the project progresses or helping to adjust the direction of the project.

Requirements relating to partners:

  • Projects must involve at least two Norwegian partners that are not research organisations. The combination of partners taking part in the project will depend on the challenge the project seeks to resolve.
  • Projects are to have a steering committee or an advisory/reference group comprising representatives from the research organisation(s), partners and any other relevant actors. Members of the steering committee/reference group are not required to be affiliated with a project partner.
  • All project partners are required to take active part in the design and execution of the project as well as in the dissemination of project results, and to promote the utilisation of new knowledge.
  • Partners are to provide the project with academic/scientific and/or financial resources.
  • If the project is awarded funding, the Project Owner must enter into collaboration agreements (contracts) with all project partners. The collaboration agreements are to regulate the reciprocal rights and obligations of the Project Owner and partners in the project and ensure the integrity and independence of the research. The Project Owner is required to sign collaboration agreements with Norwegian and international partners alike.

The Project Owner and project partners are to implement the project through ‘effective collaboration’ as defined in the state aid rules (Article 25 of the Block Exemption).

Effective collaboration

A good consortium

In the application year 2020, the Research Council received many enquiries about what can be considered a sensible composition of a consortium. It is not possible to give one satisfactory answer to that question since the composition will very much depend on the topic and the challenge the project intends to address. Generally speaking, however, all partners should be of such importance to the project that they would be difficult to replace.

For many projects, a good model could be to have between three and five key project partners that are well-acquainted with the challenge, have a need for relevant expertise and will ensure that society at large utilises and benefits from the results. In addition to the project partners, the project can also have less formal ties to other stakeholders. A clear description of these stakeholders must be given in the project description so that we can gain a clear impression of the overall scope of the interest and stakeholders involved in the project. It is possible for stakeholders to sit on a steering committee even if they are not defined as project partners in the application.

Projects such as those that need to work with a group of similar actors like schools, forest owners or consumers, may have many individual actors that contribute to the project.   If possible, we recommend that one partner, such as a municipality or trade organisation, is the point of contact with the

responsibility of bringing this group together. The smaller actors can then be considered their sub-contractors. This arrangement can help to simplify the Project Owner's follow-up of the project.

In addition to the role of project partner, the project can also use necessary sub-contractors. A sub-contractor carries out a delimited project task without obtaining any rights to the project results. A sub-contractor will be paid market price for its activities by the contracting institution (the Project Owner or one of the partners).

You will also find the role ‘R&D provider’ in the Research Council’s application form. This role will be less relevant in Collaborative and Knowledge-building Projects, where we mainly work with project partners and sub-contractors.

Please note:

An actor may not be assigned more than one role in one and the same project.

In accordance with the state aid rules, undertakings that are financially dependent on one another, such as undertakings that form part of a group, are considered one and the same actor.

Public agencies or entities can be counted as different partners in the project, even if the legal owner is the same (state or municipal), insofar as one entity

does not report directly to the other.

Requirements relating to participation and financing

The most important distinctions between the different calls for proposals in the application type Collaborative and Knowledge-building Projects are:

  • the requirements relating to user participation;
  • how much of this participation may be covered by funding allocated to the project;
  • whether or not partners are required to provide cash contributions.

Requirements relating to participation and financing can also vary somewhat within the thematic areas of a call, so please read the text of the call very carefully. The general requirements for joint calls are explained in more detail in the tables below.

Collaborative Projects to Meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges

Filling in the cost plan in the application form

If the call states that partners that are not a research organisation are to take active part in the design of research questions, execution of project activities or other aspects of the project where their contribution is critical, this means that the partners are responsible for a portion of the project costs.

The call for proposals sets a minimum requirement for how much of the project budget the partners’ total costs must comprise. A single partner may assume the entire cost burden, but this is not likely to happen often given the role that partners are to play in the project.

Costs for partners will mainly be related to personnel hours. These are to be entered in the budget as payroll and indirect expenses. A partner may also have other costs not related to personnel hours. It is important that all costs accruing to the project are actual expenses entered in the organisation’s accounts. See the Research Council’s rules for calculating payroll and indirect expenses.

Funding of project costs The call for proposals will state whether the partners are eligible to receive support from the Research Council to cover their project costs, or whether they must fully or partially cover their own costs.

Please note: For companies defined as undertakings in the state aid rules, the rules impose certain restrictions on the maximum aid intensity (the proportion of their own costs the funding may cover).

Knowledge-building Projects for Industry

Filling in the cost plan in the application form

Project partners will primarily participate in the form of defining the project, through follow-up during the project period and by disseminating results. These costs are not to be entered in the project budget but must be specified and defined in the project description.

Filling in the funding plan in the application form

Partners that are not research organisations will not be eligible to receive project funding from the Research Council to cover their costs, and must fund their own costs. Funding from the Research Council is allocated in its entirety to covering the research organisations’ costs.

Requirements relating to cash financing

In addition to funding their own costs, the partners must provide a cash contribution to cover a share of the research organisations’ costs. The Research Council’s general rule is that funding may not exceed four times the total cash contribution from the Norwegian partners.

When the project has engaged international partners

Collaborative and Knowledge-building Projects are to promote long-term competence-building in Norwegian research groups within thematic areas of particular importance for stakeholders in Norwegian society. This entails that the majority of project funding is to be used in Norway. However, projects will often benefit from the additional participation of international research organisations and/or companies in the consortium.

Regardless of whether international actors are among the project partners, cooperation must in addition be established with at least two Norwegian partners (excluding research organisations) that represent the societal challenge to be addressed by the project.

Different rules apply to international actors regarding the incorporation of their costs into the project budget and whether they may receive funding from the Research Council to cover these costs:

International research organisations

Yes. Costs may be entered in the project budget and may also be covered by funding from the Research Council. The significance of their participation must be thoroughly described.

International public sector actors

No. Costs may not be covered under the project, nor may costs be included in the project budget. However, it is important to describe the role and tasks of these actors in the project in detail.

International companies and undertakings

No. Costs may not be covered under the project, nor may costs be included in the project budget. However, it is important to describe the role and tasks of these actors in the project in detail.

If the call for proposals requires cash financing from the partners, the requirement applies to the overall contribution from the Norwegian partners. Any funding provided by international partners will be seen as an enhancement of the project, but will not lead to any reduction in the minimum cash financing requirement to be provided by the Norwegian partners, nor will it have any impact on the calculation of aid intensity from the Research Council.

International sub-contractors

Yes. The project may engage sub-contractors from abroad. The sub-contractors’ costs are to be delivered to the Project Owner in the form of an invoice, and are to be entered as expenses in the project budget.