Frequently asked questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions from applicants. Note that the information provided in the call for Qualification Project and Proof-Of Concept Project will not be repeated here.

Click the heading you are interested in to see the answers further down on the page.

Applicants

  • What does it mean that project must be based on publicly funded research results?
  • Can the research results be based on open source?
  • Can research results from an Innovation Project for the Industrial Sector (IPN) qualify as a basis for applying?
  • Can a start-up that wants to license or acquire technology developed by a research organisation apply?
  • Can I apply for a Proof-of-Concept Project without having completed a Qualification Project first?
  • How big can start-ups that apply be and how should the size of the undertaking be calculated?
  • What does it mean that start-ups that apply can have an annual balance sheet of no more than NOK 2 million?
  • Do start-ups need to clarify the situation regarding rights with the research organisation at the time of application?

Project partners

  • Who should participate in the project?
  • Can the project have partners from outside Norway?

The project period

  • Can a TTO or research organisation form a limited liability company during the project period?
  • Can investors or enterprises be given ownership interests in the start-up during the project period?
  • Can a potential customer be granted exclusive rights to the project results?

Budget

  • What IPR costs are covered?
  • Can we be party to a licensing or investor agreement during the project period?
  • How much of the budget can be used to procure services from sub-contractors?
  • How much of the budget can be used for research activities vs. business development?

Processing of applications

  • Who assesses the application?
  • When can we expect the funding decision?
  • Will we be given feedback on our application?
  • Can I resubmit the application if it is rejected?

Applicants

What does it mean that project must be based on publicly funded research results?

The Research Council can only provide grants for commercialisation of publicly funded research originating from an approved research organisation. The calls for Qualification Project and Proof-of-Concept Project applications therefore have a limited target group. The application must clearly describe the specific research results and research projects that form the basis for the project, who is behind the research and how it will contribute to solving a need or problem in a novel or better way.

Can the research results be based on open source?

No. If the research results that comprise the core of the innovation as a whole are published and made publicly available, anyone would be able to utilise the results. The Research Council can only provide grants for commercialisation of publicly funded research results originating from an approved research organisation and the research results that are to be commercialised must represent a unique competitive advantage.

Can research results from an Innovation Project for the Industrial Sector (IPN) qualify as a basis for applying?

In most cases, the answer is no. In an Innovation Project for the Industrial Sector, the research activities are carried out on assignment for an enterprise that is granted ownership of the project results. In order to base an application on research results from an Innovation Project for the Industrial Sector, you must meet the requirements set out in the call and demonstrate that you have sufficient ownership to utilise the research results of an innovation project.

Can a start-up that wants to license or acquire technology developed by a research organisation apply?

No. Among other things, the calls specify that ‘Start-up companies must stem from an approved research organisation from which the research results originate’. A start-up that is not a spin-off from an approved research organisation cannot therefore apply, even if it procures or licenses technology developed by an approved research organisation. The application type Commercialisation Project targets qualification and verification of the commercial potential of research results, and the Research Council cannot fund the further commercialisation process. Innovation Norway has relevant funding instruments for this category of applicants.

Can I apply for a Proof-of-Concept Project without having completed a Qualification Project first?

Yes. You can apply for a Proof-of-Concept Project without having completed a Qualification Project first. However, many choose to apply for a Qualification Project first in order to conduct market surveys that are then used as a basis for applying for a Proof-of-Concept Project.

How big can start-ups that apply be?

The start-up must have fewer than ten employees and an annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet of no more than NOK 2 million. When assessing an enterprise’s size, you must also consider the number of employees and the turnover/balance sheet for companies with a holding of 25 per cent or more of the capital or voting rights or in which the enterprise itself has a holding of 25 per cent or more of the capital or voting rights. For more information about how to calculate the size of the enterprise, see the EU’s User guide to the SME Definition.

What does it mean that start-ups that apply can have an annual balance sheet of no more than NOK 2 million?

The Research Council of Norway permits a lower maximum annual balance sheet than the EU to adapt the requirements to Norwegian conditions. This requirement applies at the time of application and is designed to ensure that the recipient of funding is a small company. A company meets this requirement until its balance sheet has exceeded NOK 2 million for two consecutive accounting periods. This may change during the project period and will not affect the contractual relationship.

Do start-ups need to clarify the situation regarding rights with the research organisation at the time of application?

If, at the time of application, no agreement is available that confirms that the necessary rights have been transferred to the start-up company, you must refer to a Letter of Intent confirming that such an agreement will be entered into before the project can commence. The letter must briefly describe the content and intention of the rights agreement.

Project partners

Who should participate in the project?

You should involve relevant market players to ensure that the milestones are based on critical decision-making elements and set the course for what must be achieved to trigger the next stage of the commercialisation process. You can provide more details about whom you plan to involve and why this is important in the project description and the section about the project plan. This can include potential customers, users, industry partners, investors and industry experts.

Can the project have partners from outside Norway?

Yes. Enterprises abroad that deliver specific and delimited services on assignment for the project can participate as sub-contractors. The Project Owner and, if relevant, the collaborative partners can have the costs of such services covered.

The project period

Can a TTO or research organisation form a limited liability company during the project period?

No. This is considered ‘economic activity’ and does not meet the conditions for being awarded funding, cf. the calls for proposals. Forming a limited liability company and transferring the rights to project results must take place on market terms after the project is concluded.

Can investors or enterprises be given ownership interests in the start-up during the project period?

Yes. The requirement that start-ups can have a balance sheet of no more than NOK 2 million applies at the time of application and can be subject to change during the project period. However, the Research Council wishes to be informed of such changes.

Can a potential customer be granted exclusive rights to the project results?

No. Granting exclusive rights is considered indirect state aid. Transferring rights to project results must take place on market terms.

Budget

What IPR costs are covered?

Expenses that can be covered must pertain to preparing the basis for a patent application, or the filing or processing of such an application. The reasons why these expenses are necessary must be given in an IPR strategy. Costs that can be covered:

  • Freedom to operate
  • Preparation of a patent application
  • Patent authority fees relating to the processing of the application
  • Preparation and submission of a continuation application to the PCT

Costs linked to the continuation of a patent are not covered. Specifically, this concerns:

  • Annual patent fees
  • Portfolio management
  • Running expenses for e.g. surveillance services, software

Can we be party to a licensing or investor agreement during the project period?

If the Project Owner is a TTO or research organisation, you cannot have sales revenues/enter into a licensing or investor agreement during the project period. This is considered economic activity and does not meet the conditions for being awarded funding. You can only sign a licensing or investor agreement once the project is concluded. However, you can involve potential licensees and investors in the project to ensure that the milestones are based on critical decision-making elements and set the course for what must be achieved to trigger the next stage of the commercialisation process.

How much of the budget can be used to procure services from sub-contractors?

Each application is assessed individually, and how much of the budget can be used to procure services from sub-contractors depends on which uncertainties the project must clarify in order to progress in the commercialisation process.

How much of the budget can be used for research activities vs. business development?

The distribution of funds between these two depends on what the project must clarify in order to trigger the next phase of the commercialisation process. You can apply for funding for activities that will answer potential questions from relevant market players. Such questions can for example reflect decision-making elements that potential customers, users, industry partners or investors need answered. If, for example, much of the budget is earmarked for research activities, the activities must align with the reason they are important from a commercial perspective and what they will help to trigger going forwards.

Processing of applications

Who will assess the application?

Applications for a Qualification Project are assessed by at least two case officers from the Research Council with expertise in the commercialisation of research results and knowledge of relevant technology or areas of application. Applications for a Proof-of-Concept Project are assessed by at least three external referees. Examples of typical referees are investors, entrepreneurs, industry leaders and specialists who are familiar with the technology involved or relevant areas of application.

When can we expect the funding decision?

Applications are assessed and decided as they are received. You will receive an answer as soon as possible. The normal response time is 3–4 weeks for applications for a Qualification Project, and 5–7 weeks for applications for a Proof-of-Concept Project. You should have received notification of the funding decision no later than three months after you submitted your application.

Will we be given feedback on our application?

Everyone will receive written feedback on their application. The assessment process itself should be of value to the applicant, regardless of whether you are granted funding. Those assessing the applications will provide thorough and written grounds for their assessment and marks. The comments and assessments are not to be considered the only correct interpretation. They are intended to give you some insight into how the project was perceived by the people who assessed the application.

Can I resubmit the application if it is rejected?

Yes. If you meet the requirements set out in the calls, you can submit a new application that addresses any lack of clarity or weaknesses from the last round.

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