Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project – Guide for Applicants

The purpose of a Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project is to help to develop new knowledge and build the research expertise needed by stakeholders in society or business and industry to address important societal challenges. Projects under this application type require collaboration between research groups and relevant actors from outside the research sector.

The Research Council will be announcing funding for Collaborative and Knowledge-building Projects in 2020. The deadline for submission of grant applications is 16 September. The following provides an overview of the specific features of this application type. We have also provided an overview of the various requirements for partners relating to financing and project participation. 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.
  • Projects of this type improve interaction and knowledge transfer between R&D groups and actors from outside the research sector.
  • Projects promote new knowledge and competence-building in Norwegian R&D groups in specific priority areas.
  • Project activities involve basic and/or applied research, and benefit broad segments of society.
  • The projects are either at or close to the research front and should therefore normally include cooperation between leading international specialist groups, and should entail 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 for 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. Project proposals must incorporate cooperation between an approved Norwegian 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. Project partners may be public sector entities, non-governmental organisations, actors in trade and industry and/or other private organisations.

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 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 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.
  • Costs accruing to partners are entered into the project accounts along the same lines as costs to the Project Owner.

The Project Owner is to establish collaboration agreements (contracts) with all of its partners. The collaboration agreements regulate the reciprocal rights and obligations and ensure the integrity and autonomy of the research. Norwegian and international partners alike are required to enter into a collaboration agreement.

It is important to distinguish between partners and 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). A supplier must be an external source in relation to the contractor, i.e. the supplier may not be part of the same group of companies as the contractor. Nor is it possible for an entity to be both a partner and a sub-contractor in the project.

Effective collaboration

Two calls for proposals under this application type in 2020

The Research Council will announce funding in two different calls for proposals for Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project in 2020.

These calls each encompass overall funding for a set of different thematic areas. This means that the requirements, guidelines, assessment criteria and application processing procedures will be the same for all the thematic areas under the individual calls. It is important to note which thematic areas are included under each call. Calls for Collaborative and Knowledge-building Projects do not incorporate an open competitive arena. Applicants must therefore target the grant application towards one or more of the thematic areas specified under the call.

Certain thematic areas may be included under both calls for proposals.

The most important distinctions between the two calls are:

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

Applicants are encouraged to read the text of the call very carefully.

The requirements relating to the participation of partners in the project are described in more detail below. A tip for making the rules easier to understand is to calculate the project’s actual expenses and then look at how these costs are to be funded:

Collaborative Projects to Meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges

Setting up the project budget

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

Setting up the project budget

Here partners will primarily participate in the form of defining the project, through follow-up under way and by disseminating results. As a general rule, costs will be related to personnel hours and are to be entered into the project 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.

The partners’ activities are to be important and essential to the project, but no minimum requirement has been set for how much of the project budget that the partners’ total costs must comprise.

If there are any costs or activities that are not presented in the budget these must be clearly described in the grant application.

Funding of project costs

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

Please note that state aid, including indirect state aid, is completely unavailable under the call Knowledge-building Projects for Industry.

Cash financing

In addition to funding their own costs, the partners must together provide a cash contribution of minimum 20 per cent of the research organisation’s costs.

The Research Council will calculate its support based on the general rule that funding may not exceed a maximum of four times the total cash contribution from the Norwegian partners.

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 into the project budget and may also be covered by funding from the Research Council. The significance of their participation must be thoroughly described.
International NGOs Yes. Costs may be entered into 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. As pointed out previously, think through the role the sub-contractor is to play in the project. It is crucial that that the suppliers do not obtain any rights to the project results.