Innovation Project for the Industrial Sector



Innovation Projects for the Industrial Sector are company-driven projects that incorporate extensive research and development (R&D) activities. The Innovation Project is to contribute significantly to renewal and increased value creation for the participating companies, and it should yield socioeconomic benefits by making new knowledge and solutions available.

The project funding from the Research Council is intended to encourage companies to invest more in R&D activities that can promote innovation and thereby expand the opportunities for sustainable growth and enhance the competitiveness of the companies.

Important dates

17 Jun 2019

Deadline for submission of project outlines

14 Aug 2019

Date call is made active

25 Sep 2019

Application submission deadline

12 Dec 2019

The decision regarding funding is expected to be announced

01 Jan 2020

Earliest permitted project start

01 May 2020

Latest permitted project start

16 Sep 2020

Application submission deadline for Innovation Projects for 2020

30 Apr 2024

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates

About the call for proposals

The Research Council of Norway is announcing NOK 1.25 billion in R&D support for Innovation Projects for the Industrial Sector. This funding is intended to encourage companies to invest in R&D that can enhance competitiveness, increase growth opportunities and promote sustainable value creation.

The call for proposals extends across the entire range of the Norwegian business sector and applies to both new and established business activities. The call is targeted towards large and small companies across all industries and sectors. Innovation Projects for the Industrial Sector are also expected to generate socioeconomic benefits through e.g. the sharing of research-based knowledge and helping to find solutions to societal challenges.

The Norwegian-language call for proposals is the legally binding version.

State aid

This call for proposals constitutes a funding scheme that is notified to the EFTA Surveillance Authority. Funding awarded under this scheme is granted in accordance with Article 25 of the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid (Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014).

This funding scheme is to be practised in compliance with the EEA state aid rules. This means that conditions and concepts are to be interpreted in keeping with corresponding conditions and concepts in the state aid rules. In the event of conflict between the text of the call and the state aid rules, the latter will have precedence. The text of the call may be adjusted for this same reason.

The call for proposals has been approved as an aid scheme by The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) with the reference: GBER 32/2019/R&D&I.

Who is eligible to apply?

The formal applicant must be a company that has been issued an enterprise number under the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises and that carries out economic activity in Norway. Public enterprises that carry out activities of an industrial or business nature may also serve as the formal applicant. The formal applicant will be the Project Owner in the contract with the Research Council.

Sole proprietorships and research organisations are not eligible to serve as the formal applicant.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner

The Project Owner’s (company’s) objective must be to carry out an R&D-based Innovation Project designed to lead to sustainable growth and enhanced competitiveness for the company. The Project Owner must be able to secure project funding (in addition to any Research Council funding) and to implement other measures needed to utilise the project results in connection with its own activities.

Collaboration and roles in the project

  • The Project Owner (company) may carry out the project in binding cooperation with other companies (company partners). These companies will then also have a portion of their project costs covered via Research Council support for the project and will thus become recipients of state aid. As a general rule, such partners must fulfil the criteria to serve as the formal applicant.
  • Norwegian and international research groups and expert communities may take part in the project if they have responsibility for carrying out specific R&D activities. These partners (suppliers of R&D services) may only have a task-performing role, and the company partners collaborating in the project will be responsible for financing the costs of their participation. It is presumed that R&D suppliers are not in a dependent relationship with any of the company partners, i.e. they operate according to the arm’s length principle. A company partner in the project may not serve as a supplier of R&D service, and vice versa.

Other international partners and public actors may participate in the project, but their costs will not be eligible for support from the Research Council.

  • Company partners that are in a mutually dependent relationship with one another will be considered to be one and the same recipient in accordance with the state aid rules.
  • The constellations of partners in the project are expected to contribute towards network-building and mutual knowledge development.

About Innovation Projects

  • Innovation Projects build on a specific idea by one or more companies participating in the project. The anticipated results may create value in the form of a new product, service or production process, or a new means of delivering products and services. The innovation may also entail significant improvements in or new characteristics of existing products, services or processes at the companies.
  • The companies participating in the project must have a need for new knowledge or new technology in order to succeed in achieving their innovation. The knowledge or technology must be developed through R&D activities using recognised methodology for research and development. The project’s R&D activities must be characterised as pre-commercial and must satisfy the definition of either “industrial research” or “experimental development” as set out in the state aid rules.
  • The project must have access to the expertise needed to carry out the R&D activities according to accepted practice. The Project Owner (company) or collaborating company partners in the project may contract research organisations (universities, university colleges, research institutes) or other independent suppliers of R&D services to perform R&D tasks and assist with quality assurance. The project may use organisations outside Norway as R&D suppliers when this is seen as necessary and efficient. Doctoral candidates may be affiliated with the project through separate agreements with the appropriate degree-conferring institutions.
  • The scope and risk profile of the project must be such that the companies would not be able to carry out the project without public funding. This means that support from the Research Council must be essential for the participants to implement the R&D activities. Project funding should also be crucial to obtaining private investment in the company for the development and realisation of the innovation.
  • The project must incorporate clear targets and a concrete plan for carrying out the R&D activities under the project and for utilising the results. Project results and knowledge that do not need protection on account of planned commercial utilisation by the company partners in the project are to be disseminated via publication and other relevant communication channels.

What can you seek funding for?

Support is only available for project costs relating to R&D activities. The Research Council can not provide support for other types of activities and measures to exploit R&D results, such as: filing for patents, market surveys, marketing, testing and completion of new products or services. Such costs are therefore not to be included in the project budget submitted in the grant application to the Research Council.

It is possible to seek funding to cover part of the costs of company partners for R&D activities performed under the project. This encompasses both a company’s own expenses for performing R&D activities itself and costs for procurement of R&D services from qualified suppliers.

The level of support (aid intensity) is subject to limitations and will depend on the project’s R&D content. Activities classified as “industrial research” are eligible for a higher aid intensity than “experimental development” activities. Read more about the definitions and about Article 25 of the Block Exemption on our information page Conditions for awarding state aid.

Project costs are actual costs that are necessary for the execution of the project, and are categorised as follows:

  • Direct project expenses: costs related to resources set aside specifically for project implementation, for example, payroll costs for project staff.
  • Indirect project expenses: costs related to the use of general resources that the project benefits from. Indirect project costs include the project’s share of the cost of rental of office space, IT/telephone and other joint administrative services for personnel, accounting and financial management.

In the grant application form, the Research Council requires you to break down the project budget into the following cost categories:

  • Payroll and indirect expenses: costs of R&D activities performed by the company’s R&D staff for the project. Please refer to the Research Council’s guidelines for budgeting of Payroll and indirect expenses.
  • Procurement of R&D services: costs of contracting R&D suppliers to perform R&D activities for the project.
  • Equipment: costs related to the operation and depreciation of scientific equipment necessary for the execution of the project.
  • Other operating expenses: costs related to other activities that are necessary in order to perform R&D activities under the project.

Scope of funding

Companies may seek funding to cover up to 50 per cent of their budgeted project costs. Projects may have a duration of two to four years, and a minimum NOK 2 million must be sought. Applicants may seek a maximum of NOK 16 million.

Special restrictions may apply for certain thematic areas under this call.

Conditions for funding

  • According to the state aid rules, support to an undertaking constitutes state aid. An “undertaking” in this context is defined as any actor that carries out an economic activity consisting of offering products or services on a given market.
  • If the project is awarded funding, the participating companies must submit a declaration confirming that they are qualified to receive state aid.
  • Other public funding to the project, or to activities under the project, will affect the amount of funding that the Research Council can provide.
  • Allocated state aid of EUR 500 000 or more will be announced in a public register.
  • If the project is awarded funding, the Project Owner must submit a revised grant application in accordance with the conditions of the allocation decision. The revised grant application will incorporate updated and supplementary information about the project and participating partners.
  • The latest permitted project start date for projects is 1 May 2020. Projects approved for funding that have not started by this date may lose their allocation.
  • The Research Council’s conditions for allocation are set out in the General Terms and Conditions for R&D Projects. For projects awarded funding under this call, this entails, among other things, a requirement to submit an annual project account report documenting incurred project costs and their financing.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

The call for proposals extends across the entire range of the Norwegian business sector, and grant applications will not be limited to any specified fields of research, technologies, problem areas or markets.

The funding is allocated by relevant programmes or budget items at the Research Council. This is explained in the sections detailing the five thematic areas below.

A more detailed description is provided for each of the thematic areas (click the pull-down arrows) to provide applicants with insight into which of these areas will be relevant for their planned project. While there may be specific requirements and guidelines within the various thematic areas, funding is available for projects across the entire range of the topics mentioned.

Industry and services

This thematic area is targeted towards large segments of the Norwegian business sector, and funding is available for projects within a wide range of disciplines, technology sectors and business sectors.


This thematic area is targeted towards maritime industries, aquaculture, fisheries, the seafood industry and ocean technology across ocean-based industries.


This thematic area is targeted towards upstream petroleum activities.

Environment-friendly energy and CO2 capture and storage

This thematic area is targeted towards all the thematic priority areas set out in the respective work programmes for the Large-scale Programme for Energy Research (ENERGIX) and the Norwegian RD&D CCS programme (CLIMIT).

Food and land-based bioresources

Together with the scheme for Research Funding for Agriculture and the Food Industry (Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products (FFL) and the Agricultural Agreement Research Fund (JA)), the Research Council is announcing funding for this thematic area.

Requirements for this application type

The grant application form must be created and submitted via “My RCN Web”. You may revise and resubmit your grant application form multiple times up to the application submission deadline. After the deadline, it is the most recently submitted version of the grant application that will be processed.

  • The grant application, including all attachments, may be submitted in Norwegian or English.
  • All attachments must be in PDF format and uploaded as an attachment to the grant application form.
  • The project description must be written using the designated template for Innovation Projects for the Industrial Sector. The template will be made available well before the call is made active. All items must be completed.
  • If the applicant has submitted the same or similar grant proposals under another Research Council programme or scheme, this must be stated in the grant application.
  • All project costs are to be budgeted in accordance with Research Council guidelines.

All the templates for attachments are at the end of the call for proposals.

Mandatory attachments

  • A project description of maximum 15 pages using the designated template.
  • Information about partners for the company submitting the grant application and each of the participating companies. The designated template must be used.
  • A CV for the project manager, using the designated template.

Grant applications that do not satisfy the requirements relating to the application type or the Project Owner will be rejected.

Assessment criteria

Grant applications will be assessed on the basis of four criteria:


To what extent does the project represent an ambitious innovation that is supported by relevant R&D activities of high quality?

• To what extent does the innovation represent something new?
• To what extent is the innovation targeted towards clear needs or new market opportunities for the company partners in the project?
• To what extent does the project build on relevant and updated knowledge?
• To what extent does the project employ relevant and recognised R&D methods?
• To what extent are the R&D activities essential for the success of the innovation?


To what extent does the project pave the way for significant benefits for the company partners, and lay a foundation for other positive impacts for society?

• To what extent will the project entail a potential for sustainable value creation in Norway with significant economic benefits for the company partners?
• To what extent can the project have positive external impacts, such as:
– helping to disseminate knowledge through networks and publications;
– producing results that can be used by other industries, the public sector or in society at large;
– leading to an innovation that can address UN Sustainable Development Goals or solve other important societal challenges.
• To what extent are the potential impacts of the project clearly formulated and highly plausible?


To what extent does the work plan provide a good basis for implementing the R&D activities and realising the potential for value creation?

• To what extent does the R&D project work plan incorporate appropriate and effective objectives, work packages, milestones, resources and relevant risk assessments?
• To what extent will the project have access to the necessary R&D expertise and adequate capacity to carry out the R&D tasks?
• To what extent does the project reflect the strategic priorities of the company partners and have a project organisation appropriate to the task?
• To what extent does the project manager have appropriate expertise and experience to lead an R&D project targeted towards innovation and sustainable value creation for companies?
• To what extent is the plan for implementation of R&D results and realisation of benefits relevant and appropriate, for instance with regard to:
– IPR issues,
– assessment of the competitive framework and market risks,
– investment needs and plans,
– needs and plans regarding partnerships for commercialisation or industrialisation,
– need to develop business models.

Relevance to the call for proposals

To what extent does the project meet the requirements and guidelines set out in the call for proposals?

• To what extent do the company partners in the project meet the requirements and expectations set out in the call for proposals with regard to the Project Owner and project partners?
• To what extent have the conditions set out in the call for proposals with regard to collaboration and specification of roles been met?
• To what extent can support from the Research Council be expected to trigger increased R&D investment among the company partners in the project and provide added value to the project beyond the financial support?
• To what extent is the project in keeping with thematic or budgetary guidelines in the call for proposals, where this is relevant in light of the project’s content?

Administrative procedures

Grant applications will be assessed based on the content in the application form and mandatory attachments. Links to websites and documents, as well as other attachments than those specified above, will not be included in the application review process.

Grant applications and mandatory attachments will be made available to external referees via a digital portal. These referees will assess Excellence, Impact and Implementation. The referees will convene in a panel meeting to reach a unified assessment of the grant application for each of these three criteria.

The criterion “Relevance to the call for proposals” will be assessed by the Research Council administration.

The assessment of these four criteria will be consolidated into a single, overall mark that indicates the quality of the project proposal. This overall mark will play a decisive role in determining which projects are to be allocated funding.

The administration will present the project proposals to the relevant Research Council portfolio boards for the final funding decision. Here the proposals will also be considered in light of the overall project portfolio in the areas under the purview of the specific portfolio board. Each portfolio board must also take into consideration any budgetary aims outside of those set out in the call for proposals. During this process, each portfolio board will also act in accordance with the Research Council’s general policy for allocation of funding, including:

  • research ethics perspectives;
  • prioritisation of projects led by women project managers, assuming all other quality-related factors are essentially equal.

The final decision regarding funding is expected to be announced in December 2019.

Projects recommended for funding will be required to provide additional information about the project and the project partners.