Innovation Project for the Public Sector

23 September: amended information about where to upload the form "Partner information" can be found under "Mandatory attachments" under the heading "Requirements for the application type".

Purpose

An Innovation Project for the Public Sector is intended to promote sustainable, systematic and effective innovation in public-sector services, infrastructure and administration. Innovation projects must be based on needs and challenges, must be part of the entity’s plans for development and must build on effective collaboration between the Project Owner (public sector body), R&D groups and other relevant stakeholders.

Innovations in this context are defined as new or significantly improved goods, services, processes, organisational and governance forms or models that are introduced to enhance value creation and for the benefit of society.

When developing your project we recommend using the Project Canvas tool (available in Norwegian only).

Important dates

14 Aug 2019

Date call is made active

25 Sep 2019

Application submission deadline

01 Jun 2020

Earliest permitted project start

01 Dec 2020

Latest permitted project start

30 Nov 2024

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates

About the call for proposals

The Research Council of Norway is announcing approximately NOK 185 million in R&D support for Innovation Projects for the Public Sector. This funding is for projects in which public sector bodies are in need of research in connection with innovation activities. The projects are to be designed to generate sustainable value creation.

It will be possible to apply for support for projects in a range of different thematic areas, and many sectors and service areas will find this to be an appropriate funding instrument for their needs. Funding will also be available for projects that extend across sectors and service areas.

When developing your project we recommend using the Project Canvas tool (available in Norwegian only).

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 34/2019/R&D&I.

Who is eligible to apply?

Public sector bodies (cf. Definition Public Body)  are eligible to apply. Special restrictions may apply for certain thematic areas under this call. These requirements will be set out under the description of the respective thematic areas below. Applicants under some of the thematic areas must also satisfy additional special requirements. Such requirements will be stipulated in the description of the relevant thematic area.

Companies and research organisations may not serve as Project Owner.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner

The Project Owner must be a public sector body as defined in link above. The organisation listed as the Project Owner in the application form must have authorised the submission of the grant application.

Requirements relating to the project manager

The project manager’s scientific expertise and capability to manage the project will be assessed by a referee panel. There are no requirements relating to the formal qualifications of the project manager.

Requirements relating to partners

One or more approved research organisations must participate as a partner in the project. A list of approved research organisations is available here. Any additional requirements related to collaboration will be stipulated in the information relating to the individual thematic areas.

Expectations concerning other forms of collaboration

The Research Council also encourages collaboration between public entities, as well as between such entities and companies, special interest organisations and other actors that are relevant for the project.

The project is to be implemented through effective collaboration between the Project Owner and the project partners as defined in the state aid rules. Among other things, this entails that the results of the project are to be shared. Effective collaboration is defined as follows:

"collaboration between at least two independent parties to exchange knowledge or technology, or to achieve a common objective based on the division of labour where the parties jointly define the scope of the collaborative project, contribute to its implementation and share its risks, as well as its results. One or several parties may bear the full costs of the project and thus relieve other parties of its financial risks. Contract research and provision of research services are not considered forms of collaboration.”

User participation

In many contexts, user involvement and knowledge about users will be essential if innovation efforts are to succeed. The term “user” in this context refers to those who are to be the recipients of the service, professional users/user organisations and/or those who are to be the service providers (employees). Projects where this is relevant should incorporate user participation and have a clear user-oriented perspective.

What can you seek funding for?

For projects from the municipal sector, the maximum amount of project support from the Research Council is 75 per cent of the total approved project costs. For projects from state institutions, the maximum amount of project support is 50 per cent of the overall project costs.

The Research Council’s support for innovation in the public sector applies only to R&D activities. Other activities and measures that are necessary to realising the innovation must be presented in the project description as well, although these costs will not be funded by the Research Council.

Relevant project expenses include payroll expenses, any grants/fellowships and direct project expenses. See What to enter in the project budget for Research Council guidelines on budgeting of project costs.

For more about the budget, see here.

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 incurred by the Project Owner and other task-performing partners in the public sector, trade and industry and research organisations in Norway.
  • Other operating expenses: costs related to other activities that are necessary in order to perform R&D activities under the project. All costs entered as “other operating expenses” must be specified in the grant application and such costs will be revised if the project is granted funding.
  • 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.

Conditions for funding

Support from the Research Council to a research organisation is to be reserved for the organisation’s non-economic activity, and as such therefore does not constitute state aid. The Research Council requires a clear separation of accounts for the organisation’s economic and non-economic activities.

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. When an undertaking receives support to cover a portion of its project costs as a partner in the project, this support must be awarded in accordance with Article 25 of the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid (Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014). It is a requirement that the project is carried out in effective cooperation between the partners.

If the project is awarded funding, the Project Owner must enter into collaboration agreements with all project partners.

The Research Council’s allocation for the first year and any pledges for subsequent years will be disbursed in accordance with the conditions set out in this agreement and the General Terms and Conditions for R&D Projects.

Archiving of research data

The Project Owner (institution/company) is responsible for selecting the archiving solution(s) to use for storing research data generated during the project. The Project Owner must specify the planned solution(s) if funding is awarded and in connection with the revised grant proposal.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

This call covers a wide range of different thematic areas, and many sectors and service areas will find this to be an appropriate funding instrument for their needs. Funding will also be available for projects that extend across sectors and service areas.

Under some of the thematic areas there are specific requirements and guidelines that will be given special weight when assessing project proposals and awarding funding.

Health, care and welfare services

Education

Transport and mobility

Digitalisation

Innovation in the public sector

Requirements for this application type

You may revise and resubmit your grant application form multiple times up to the application submission deadline. We recommend that you submit your application as soon as you have filled in the application form and included all mandatory attachments. After the deadline, it is the most recently submitted version of the grant application that will be processed.

General requirements:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The latest permitted project start date for projects is 1 December 2020. Projects approved for funding that have not started by this date may lose their allocation.

Mandatory attachments

  • A project description of maximum 10 pages using the designated template for Innovation Projects for the Public Sector found at the bottom of this page. All items must be completed.
  • CVs for the project manager and key project participants using the designated templates found at the bottom of this page. The CV for the project manager is to be uploaded as attachment type “CV” in the grant application form, and other CVs are to be uploaded as attachment type “Other”.
  • Information about the applicant and partners must be provided in accordance with the template found at the bottom of this page. This is to be uploaded as attachment type “Partner information”.

Grant applications that do not satisfy the above requirements will be rejected.

Optional attachments

  • A proposal for up to three referees who are presumed to be impartial and qualified to review the grant proposal.

Links to websites and documents, as well as other attachments than those specified above, will not be included in the application review process.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:

Excellence

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 will the innovation help to resolve a challenge and/or meet a recognised need?
• To what extent does the project have the potential to generate new knowledge that can lead to innovation?
• To what extent are the R&D activities essential for the success of the innovation?
• 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?

Impact

To what extent does the project pave the way for value creation in the public sector entities as well as lay a foundation for benefits to other segments of the public sector?

Value creation and utilisation of results
• To what extent are the potential impacts of the project clearly formulated and plausible?
• To what extent will the results of the project facilitate value creation for the applicant and partners in the public sector?
• To what extent is the plan for realising the innovation relevant and appropriate, including risk assessments, plans and resource needs, partners, strategic priorities and roles?

Dissemination, knowledge sharing and distribution and other societal outcomes
• To what extent are dissemination and communication activities clearly formulated and directed towards relevant target groups?
• To what extent is the potential for knowledge sharing and distribution through dissemination, cooperation and networks clearly and adequately specified?
• To what extent can the project lead to other positive societal outcomes, such as:
– facilitating utilisation of results by other segments of the public sector, the business sector or other stakeholders;
– leading to an innovation that can address UN Sustainable Development Goals or solve other important societal challenges.

Implementation

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

Quality of the project’s organisation and management
• To what extent is the project work plan satisfactory, including whether the resources for the various work packages are adequate and reflect the individual work package’s objectives, timetable and deliverables?
• To what extent are the partners well suited for carrying out the R&D activities, and is the distribution of the budget, roles and responsibilities clearly-defined and relevant?
• To what extent is the leadership and administration of the project appropriately organised?

Quality of the project manager and project group
• To what extent does the project manager have the appropriate expertise and experience to lead an R&D project targeted towards innovation and value creation in the public sector?
• To what extent does the project group have the competence and expertise needed to implement the project efficiently?

Relevance to the call for proposals

To what extent is the project in keeping with the objectives and the structural and thematic guidelines set out in the call for proposals?

Administrative procedures

Once the grant applications have been received, the Research Council will review them to ensure that they satisfy all the formal requirements relating to the call and attachments. Grant applications that do not comply with the requirements will be rejected.

Grant applications that satisfy the formal requirements will be distributed to external referees for assessment of the criteria, 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 panel’s assessment plays a crucial role in determining whether a project merits funding. After the panel review, the most highly ranked applications will be assessed by the Research Council administration in relation to thematic and budgetary priorities and other specifications described in the text of the call.

The final decision on funding will be taken by one of the Research Council’s portfolio boards. The decision is based on the referee assessments viewed together with the portfolio board’s own assessment of the relevance and strategic importance of the grant proposal.

The Research Council’s final decision on funding awards will be taken by the portfolio board based on an overall assessment of the project portfolio.

The final funding decision will be announced before the end of March 2020.