Collaborative Project to meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges – Guide for Applicants

This is a guide to the call for Collaborative Projects to meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges and Collaborative Project on Digital Security and Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Autonomous Systems. It describes key characteristics, and we explain some of the requirements set out in the call in more detail. A full description of the requirements for grant applications will be provided in the call for proposals.

Only approved Norwegian research organisations may apply under these calls for proposals. 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.

Objectives and characteristics

A Collaborative Project to meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges and a Collaborative Project on Digital Security and Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Autonomous Systems are to develop new knowledge and generate research competence needed by society or the business sector to address important societal challenges.

We expect research groups and relevant actors from outside the research sector to collaborate on the project. The research organisations will mainly be responsible for conducting the research, while the partners will contribute their experience and knowledge, ensure that there is an important need for the research and that the research results are utilised.

The following characterises the projects:

  • The projects help to develop new knowledge and build the research expertise needed by society and/or the business sector to address important societal challenges.
  • The projects stimulate and encourage collaboration between research groups and actors from outside the research sector.
  • The 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 normally include cooperation with leading international specialist groups, thus entailing significant benefits for the Norwegian groups involved.
  • The projects normally involve recruitment positions (doctoral and/or post-doctoral fellowships).
  • The Research Council requires full and immediate open access to scientific publications; see Plan S – open access to publications.  

The most important roles in the application are:

  • Project Owner (the research organisation that is applying)
  • Other research organisations participating as partners
  • Partners from the business sector or other parts of society that ensure that research questions, research activities and results are relevant and beneficial for society

You can find more information below about who is eligible to participate as a partner and what we expect them to contribute.

Who can participate in the project?

Projects are to be carried out by one or more research organisations in effective collaboration with relevant actors from the business sector or other parts of society.

Research organisations participating as partners

The projects often entail collaboration with other research organisations, but this is not a requirement.

Requirement for two partners that are not research organisations

The project must involve at least two Norwegian partners that are not research organisations. These are partners from the business sector or other parts of society that will contribute their experience and knowledge, and ensure that the project and its objectives address real challenges. Project partners may be public sector entities, non-governmental organisations, actors from the business sector and/or other private organisations.  

The minimum requirement for the number of Norwegian partners that represent the societal challenge is an important and absolute requirement. The same applies to the requirement for active participation in the project. The application must document that at least 10 per cent of the project’s total costs will be used by these partners. These requirements form part of the participation requirement, which we will explain in more detail later in the guide.

Everyone with obligations in the project must be listed as partners in the grant application form. In addition to the participation requirement, the Project Owner’s and partners’ overall expertise will also be assessed in the application review process.

Which partners can be included as one of the two required partners from the business sector or other parts of society?

  • They must be actors from the business sector or other parts of society that contribute experience and knowledge of the challenges the project seeks to resolve.
  • They must be registered in the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises.
  • In addition to research activities, Norwegian research organisations such as e.g. health trusts also have tasks of a more operational nature which means that they can be included in a project as a representative of the industry-related or societal challenge. Please note that it is not possible to have the role of both a research organisation and a partner from outside the research sector in one and the same project. If a partner has the role of research organisation, it will not be included in the calculation of the participation requirement. The roles must therefore be clearly described in the project description to avoid misunderstandings when the grant application is assessed.
  • Public sector agencies or entities can be counted as different partners in the project, even if the legal owner is the same (same business register number). In such case, they must contribute different user perspectives. This must be set out in the project description.
  • Sole proprietorships are eligible as partners. However, payroll and indirect expenses will not be covered for the owner. The payroll and indirect expenses for any other employees of sole proprietorships can be covered, as well as expenses relating to participation in a project, provided that they are described in the sole proprietorship’s accounts.
  • The following actors will not be approved as one of the two required partners in the project:
    • partners from the business sector that have close relations to or are part of the research organisation that is applying
    • TTOs (Technology Transfer Office)
    • Norwegian-registered foreign companies (NUFs)
  • 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.

Letter of intent from collaborating partners

When you submit an application for a call for a Collaborative Project to meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges, you must attach a letter of intent from each individual collaborating partner registered in the application form.

Here you can see what is included in the letter of intent and a concrete example (opens in a new window).

Use of subcontractors

The projects may use subcontractors for minor assignments. Subcontractors must not carry out research activities and cannot be granted any rights to the work they deliver.

Effective collaboration requirement

The call requires the Project Owner to carry out the project in effective collaboration with its partners. One characteristic of effective collaboration is that the partners exchange knowledge or technology to achieve a common objective based on the division of labour. The Project Owner and the partners jointly define the scope of the project, contribute to its implementation and share the risk and results. If the project is awarded funding from the Research Council, the Project Owner and the partners must agree on the distribution of rights and obligations relating to project implementation and the results generated in the project. This agreement is part of the Project Owner's contract with the Research Council, which means that the partners cannot be replaced without this being clarified with the Research Council in advance.

What can you seek funding for?

You can apply for funding to cover the costs of the research organisations and the Norwegian partners in the project. If the partners are undertakings, the state aid rules will impose certain restrictions on how much of their costs can be covered.

You can apply for funding to cover the actual costs necessary to carry out the project. These costs are to be entered in the cost plan under the relevant category.

Support may be granted for the following cost categories:

  • Payroll and indirect expenses related to researcher time (including research fellowship positions) at the research organisations, and the partners’ personnel hours. For doctoral research fellowships, funding is limited to a maximum of three full-time equivalents. Funding for two to four years may be granted for post-doctoral research fellowships.
  • Equipment, encompassing operating and depreciation costs for scientific equipment and research infrastructure necessary for the implementation of the project. All major equipment investments must be specified in the application.
  • Other operating expenses, which comprise costs for other activities that are necessary to implement the project. All costs for activities or procurements from subcontractors that exceed NOK 100,000 must be specified in the application.

Do not use the item Procurement of R&D services.

The partners’ costs will mainly be related to personnel hours, and must be entered as payroll and indirect expenses. The Research Council’s website has information about how to record payroll and indirect expenses, regardless of whether the partners are from the institute sector, the university and university college sector, or whether they are from the business sector or other parts of society. When a research organisation has the role of ‘partner from the business sector or other parts of society’, personnel hours must be recorded in the same way as for companies, public sector entities and other enterprises that are not research organisations.

Partners can cover their own project costs. Please note that for some topics, applications where the partners contribute own funding may be prioritised, but this will in such case be specified under the respective thematic areas of the call. Please note that any own funding of costs will not affect the minimum requirement for participation.

As mentioned, the state aid rules impose certain restrictions on funding for partners that are undertakings. In this context, an ‘undertaking’ is defined as any actor that carries out an economic activity consisting of offering products and/or services in a given market. Funding will depend on the undertaking’s size and the type of activity that is carried out (basic research or industrial research). If the application is recommended for funding, we will request more information to ensure that the project is undertaken in accordance with the state aid rules.

The costs of international partners that are not research organisations will not be funded through the allocations to the project (read more about this in the section below).

Funding will not be granted for costs that are not described in the official accounts of the Project Owner or partners. If the project is offered free use of data sets, equipment etc., this cannot be entered as a project cost. 

You can only apply for funding for research activities defined as basic research or industrial research. The state aid rules divide research into three categories: basic research, industrial research and experimental development. This call does not award funding for experimental development or activities of a more operational nature. Nor are activities associated with the commercial exploitation of the R&D results, such as protection of intellectual property rights, market surveys or marketing, eligible for funding. In the grant application form, you must specify whether the activities in the project constitute basic research or industrial research. For projects in sectors that do not involve business or industry, industrial research can be translated into applied research.

You will find important and more detailed information about what to enter in the project budget on our website.

If the project involves international partners

These projects are to promote long-term knowledge-building in Norwegian research groups within thematic areas of particular importance to stakeholders in Norwegian society. This means that the majority of the project funding is to be used in Norway. However, collaboration with international partners will often add great value to the project.

International partners come in addition to the minimum requirement that the project must include at least two Norwegian partners that are not research organisations, and that represent the societal challenge the project is set to address.

Different rules apply to international partners as regards 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 be covered by funding from the Research Council. For doctoral research fellows whose degree-conferring institution is located abroad, we only fund the part of the work the research fellow contributes to the project, and not the doctoral degree in its entirety.

International public players and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisation)

No, these costs are not to be entered in the budget tables. They are not covered by the funds granted to the project. However, the activities these actors will perform should be described in the project description if you would like this information to be taken into account when the application is reviewed.

International companies and undertakings

International sub-contractors

Yes. The project may engage sub-contractors from abroad. The sub-contractors’ costs are to be submitted to the Project Owner in the form of an invoice in the same way as Norwegian subcontractors. Procurements from subcontractors that exceed NOK 100,000 must be specified in the application.

The participation requirement and how to calculate it

It is important that the partners that represent the industry-related or societal challenge contribute actively to the project. Their participation is confirmation that the research is needed and that the requirement for effective collaboration is met. We therefore ask that costs related to the partners’ participation, or in-kind contribution to the project, be entered in the budget tables.

The overall contribution from partners that represent the industry-related or societal challenge must constitute at least 10 per cent of the total project costs. This can be in the form of payroll expenses or other project costs; tasks they must carry out, but for which they can be reimbursed (in part of in full) under the project budget.

The participation requirement thus concerns the proportion of costs and not how the project is funded. Any self-funding or cash contributions have no impact on whether this requirement is met.

To check whether the participation requirement of 10 per cent is met, the applicant can use the figures from the grant application’s budget tables and present them in accordance with the following example:

Costs

NOK

The costs of the Project Owner and other research organisations participating as partners

8,000,000

The costs of Norwegian partners from the business sector or other parts of society

1,000,000

Total

9,000,000

Participation

11.1%

We recommend that you check whether the participation requirement is met before you submit the grant application form.

Calculation example 1

Calculation example 2

Calculation example 3