The STUD-ENT funding scheme is the Research Council’s national competitive arena in which students, together with higher education institutions, may seek financial support for realising their knowledge- and/or research-based business ideas.
When reviewing grant applications, the Research Council uses only external referees with relevant experience in relation to the individual grant applications.
The external referees have a background as an investor, business developer, technology developer, entrepreneur or the like. They provide critical and practical advice for all grant applications, regardless of whether applicants receive financial support.
All projects that are assessed will receive written feedback from the referees. Thus, the STUD-ENT scheme also serves as a practical learning arena for students, universities and university colleges.
The scheme enables institutions to focus on the most promising student business ideas, promote their realisation and subsequently use them as role models to foster an entrepreneurship culture.
What is a STUD-ENT project?
- seeks to realise a knowledge-based business idea;
- has a project manager who is a student or has recently completed a master’s degree;
- has the formal support of a Norwegian university or university college;
- may address any subject field or branch of industry.
High market maturity is not required, but the project must be business-driven, not research-driven. This means that project activities must help to reduce the level of risk associated with the project/provide the answers to questions that a customer, industry partner, investor or other public/private funding source needs to resolve before deciding to invest in further development or procurement.
Who is eligible to apply?
Students pursuing a master’s or bachelor’s degree may apply. The project manager of a STUD-ENT project must be a recent master’s degree graduate , i.e. must:
i) have planned to submit his/her Master’s thesis by at the latest six months after the application submission deadline, or
ii) have received his/her Master’s diploma no more than 12 months prior to submission of the grant application.
Project start date and duration
As a general rule, the project start date is to be planned for 1 June and the project to have a duration of one year. Any necessary deviations from this must be clearly explained in the grant application.
Requirements and other information
Requirements relating to the business idea
- The business idea must be related to knowledge the students have obtained through their studies.
- The students/recent Master’s degree graduates must have obtained the rights to the concept, technology or research on which the business idea is based and that will be needed to implement the project.
- Project proposals must demonstrate that the business idea has been adequately developed and that preliminary market surveys indicate support for the business idea.
The business idea does not have to be linked to a specific branch of industry, and STUD-ENT funding may be sought by students/recent Master’s degree graduates from all subject fields. All subject areas are given equal priority.
There are no requirements relating to market maturity, so the STUD-ENT scheme is just as relevant for, e.g., medical technology projects, which often have a longer path to market, as for ICT projects, which in many cases have a shorter path to market.
Assuming that all factors relating to scientific merit and relevance are essentially equal, priority will be given to projects led by women project managers. The STUD-ENT scheme seeks to achieve full gender balance, with 50 per cent participation of women in projects, and 50 per cent women project managers.
What can be applied for?
STUD-ENT funding is to be used to clarify uncertainties related to the commercial utilisation of research, i.e. questions that will prevent the project from moving forward in the commercialisation process if they remain unanswered.
Activities for which funding may be used, include:
- Business development;
- Premarket evaluations;
- Prototype development;
- Technical proof-of-concept activities;
- Technical equipment;
- Advisory services and technical assistance;
- Payroll costs.
Up to NOK 1 million may be sought in funding for a STUD-ENT project. STUD-ENT funding may be used to cover 100 per cent of the project costs for up to 12 months, i.e. no own financing is required.
STUD-ENT funding is not intended to be an alternative to private capital. Projects that already have other funding or are considered to be in a position to obtain other funding may fall outside the intended target group.
Requirements relating to the project team
- The project manager must fulfil the requirements set out in “Who is eligible to apply?” above.
- The core team is to consist of students, i.e. the project manager and other students at Bachelor’s or Master’s degree levels and/or recent Master’s degree graduates who have received their Master’s diplomas no more than 12 months prior to the grant application submission deadline.
- The core team must together own a minimum of 80 per cent of the shares in the established/planned company, and the distribution/planned distribution of shares must reflect each partner’s participation in the project, thereby ensuring that all team members have maximum incentive to succeed.
Requirements relating to mentors
- The project must include at least one academic mentor who provides relevant expertise, for example within a specific subject or technological area.
- The project may benefit from including academic mentors from a variety of universities/university colleges.
- The project must include at least one commercial mentor from the business sector who provides relevant experience from the sector or market or offers input on crucial project tasks.
- The core team as a whole with its mentor support must have the interdisciplinary and relevant expertise needed to perform the project.
Requirements relating to the university/university college
- A division or department must be listed as the “Project Owner” in the grant application, and an individual who is authorised to approve the project at the departmental level must be listed as the “Project administrator”.
- The university/university college must provide the project with at least one academic mentor and sign an agreement regarding the institution’s contributions to the project.
- Students are not required to have studied or completed a degree at the university or university college that has given its support to the project.
Can the university/university college support multiple STUD-ENT projects?
Yes. Both the entity at the institution that is listed as the Project Owner and the individual who is designated the project administrator may have these roles in multiple projects.
Are the students required to have studied or completed a Master’s degree at the university or university college that is supporting the project?
No. Students/recent Master’s degree graduates are not required to have studied or completed a Master’s degree at the university or university college that is supporting the project. The applicant institution, on the other hand, must provide scientifically relevant contributions that are critical to the project.
Disbursal of funding and reporting requirements
The first funding instalment, which will be 50 per cent of the allocated amount, will be disbursed once the revised grant application has been approved and the contract between the Research Council and the company has been signed.
The second instalment, which will be 30 per cent of the allocated amount, will be disbursed after the progress report has been approved. Please note that documentation confirming the formal approval of the project manager’s Master’s degree must be uploaded together with the progress report before the second instalment will be disbursed.
The third instalment, which will be 20 per cent of the allocated amount, will be disbursed after the final report and project account report have been submitted and approved. Please note that the project account report must be endorsed by a chartered accountant before it can be approved by the Research Council.
Publication of calls for proposals
In general, the STUD-ENT scheme announces funding each year in mid-February.
The status of published calls for proposals is either Planned or Active.
Planned: Calls for proposals may be published as Planned up to six months before the application submission deadline. Please note that the text of the calls and the associated templates may be subject to revision up to six weeks before the deadline.
Active: Calls for proposals are made active six weeks before the application submission deadline. Once the call is active, it is possible to create and complete the eSøknad online application form via “My RCN web”, upload attachments and submit the application.
See Calls for Proposals.
As a general rule, notification of the funding decision will be sent within eight weeks after the application submission deadline. All projects that are assessed will receive written feedback based on the referee assessments.
What can I do if I disagree with the mark assigned or feedback provided to my proposal?
Application assessment is not an exact science leading to a final answer. Referee assessments show how the referees have understood the project. Feedback on grant proposals can be roughly divided into two categories:
- Feedback the applicant agrees with: This type of feedback is straightforward, as it is easy for the applicant to discern what changes and improvements to the project are required.
- Feedback the applicant does not agree with: This type of feedback may be somewhat more difficult to resolve, but it often indicates that the project has not succeeded in communicating its intentions clearly enough. In these cases, the applicants should take steps to revise the presentation and communication of those aspects of the project they believe the referees have misunderstood.
In cases when referees have assigned widely differing marks for the same assessment criterion, it is often a sign that the proposal is unclear on this point, and has given the referees a somewhat inadequate foundation for their assessment.
Funding from Innovation Norway and the STUD-ENT scheme
Student projects that have previously received funding for premarket evaluation support or commercialisation support from Innovation Norway are eligible to apply for STUD-ENT funding, but not the other way around. Innovation Norway now stipulates that projects that have received STUD-ENT funding are not eligible to apply for premarket evaluation support or commercialisation support from Innovation Norway.