Pilot-T Project: New Solutions in the Interface between Transport and ICT

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Purpose

The Pilot-T scheme is targeted towards projects in the interface between transport and ICT technologies. In a Pilot-T project, a company cooperates with other entities to generate new knowledge or to use existing knowledge in new ways or areas. The objective is to accelerate the application of effective solutions by developing and testing/piloting technologies and business models with the potential to enhance the transport system of tomorrow by increasing mobility, improved safety and security, and reducing emissions.

The Pilot-T scheme is a collaborative effort between the Research Council and Innovation Norway commissioned by the Ministry of Transport. A joint reception system is being introduced in 2019 to simplify the application process. This means that all applications for Pilot-T projects are to be submitted via the Research Council’s online application system and will be distributed between the Council and Innovation Norway for subsequent processing and decisions regarding funding. Under this call, up to NOK 40 million in funding is available through the Research Council and up to NOK 20 million through Innovation Norway.

Important dates

14 Aug 2019

Date call is made active

25 Sep 2019

Application submission deadline

01 Mar 2020

Latest permitted project start

Important dates

About the call for proposals

To be eligible for funding, a Pilot-T project must:

  • be in the interface between transport and ICT technologies;
  • help to achieve the transport policy objective of a transport system with better mobility, improved safety and security and/or reduced emissions;
  • generate industrial development and new knowledge in Norway and enable Norwegian business and industry to take advantage of the potential for value creation inherent in restructuring the transport sector;
  • incorporate multiple actors in a collaborative effort;
  • have a need for new knowledge in order to be realised;
  • result in a pilot or full-scale solution that is applied.

See the definition of “experimental development” for a description of the type of pilot testing and demonstration activities that are eligible for support.

The applicant or its partner(s) is required to have its own R&D expertise. Alternatively, R&D services may be procured from an approved research organisation.

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

We encourage applicants to seek guidance from a case officer at Innovation Norway or the Research Council prior to preparing/submitting a grant application.

Priority will be given to projects that:

  • have a high level of innovation;
  • lead to value creation for the project participants;
  • include a clear, specified plan for realising the innovation;
  • include specific, detailed plans for project organisation, funding and implementation and, if applicable, regulatory approval; and
  • are led by women project managers, assuming all factors relating to scientific merit and relevance are essentially equal.

Thematic delimitation

This call is targeted towards both commercial and passenger transport within all four modes of transport – road, rail, air and sea. The call is not open to activities related to offshore operations, fisheries or the development of technology for the maritime sector with no direct connection to commercial or passenger transport. Projects involving environment-friendly energy for transport, including battery power, hydrogen and biofuels as well as charging infrastructure in this connection, are also not eligible to receive funding under this call.

Project concepts related to this area should be directed to the PILOT-E scheme as well as the ENERGIX and MAROFF programmes at the Research Council, the Environmental Technology Scheme at Innovation Norway or to Enova.

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.

Contact persons (Research Council)

Contact persons (Innovation Norway)

Who is eligible to apply?

Only companies that conduct business activities in Norway and are registered with a Norwegian enterprise identity number under the Register of Business Enterprises are eligible to apply. In the case of multiple companies collaborating on a project, one of the companies must serve as formal applicant on behalf of the consortium. Groups of companies (e.g. industry organisations), sole proprietorships, research organisations and other organisations may not serve as the Project Owner (applicant).

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner (applicant)

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 the Pilot-T funding) and to implement other measures needed to utilise the project results in connection with its own activities.

Requirements relating to collaboration

The Research Council requires that the project is carried out in collaboration with other actors in the business or public sector and/or that R&D services for the project are procured from an approved research organisation. Grant proposals must describe the partners who will be collaborating in the project, and how they will be involved in the planning and implementation of the project as well as in any purchase, utilisation of, or rights to any project results. Possible forms of collaboration are:

  • The applicant may carry out the project in cooperation with other companies that either cover their own project costs or benefit from project support under the Pilot-T scheme. Partners that are also to make use of Pilot-T scheme funding must meet the same criteria relating to undertakings and satisfy the same requirements as the Project Owner. The applicant may also procure R&D services from a subcontractor.  
  • The applicant may carry out the project in effective collaboration with entities in the public sector. 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.” Please note that although this definition states that parties may be relieved of financial risk, under this call for proposals the Research Council and Innovation Norway requires entities in the public sector to cover cover their own project costs in full.
  • Norwegian research groups 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 companies collaborating in the project will be responsible for financing the costs of procurement of R&D services from research organisations. 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.

Research services for the project may also be procured from international research groups but this in itself does not fulfil the requirements relating to cooperation. Other international partners may be involved in the project provided their participation promotes value creation in Norway, but their costs will not be eligible for Pilot-T support and the international partner must cover all its own costs.

What can you seek funding for?

Support is only available for project costs relating to R&D activities. Activities that are eligible for support include, but are not limited to, applied research, formative dialogue research, prototyping, demonstration and pilot testing. Costs for other types of activities and measures to exploit R&D results, such as filing for patents, market surveys and marketing, testing and completion of new products and services are not approved for funding.

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.

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, you are 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.
  • 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: other project costs related to R&D activities to be performed under the project.

Please also refer to What to enter in the project budget.

Calculating support

In compliance with the state aid rules, companies may apply for support for up to 50 per cent of the budgeted costs for these activities. Under this call for proposals, you may apply for a minimum of NOK 2 million and a maximum of NOK 10 million. How much support a company may receive will be determined by the company’s size and the activity it is to perform in the project. Partners from the public sector must cover their own costs in full; these costs will not be eligible for Pilot-T support.

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.

Other public funding to the project, or to activities under the project, will affect the amount of Pilot-T funding that can be provided.

Allocated state aid of EUR 500 000 or more will be announced in a public register.

Information from the Research Council about the state aid rules is available here.

Each funding recipient will be evaluated individually and the amount of support will depend on whether the recipient’s project costs involve costs for “industrial research” or “experimental development”.

The Research Council and Innovation Norway provide support for activities that satisfy the definition of “industrial research” and “experimental development”. See the link above for a complete list of approved costs under Article 25 of the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid.

Conditions for allocation of funding from the Research Council

If the project is awarded Research Council 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 participating companies must submit a declaration confirming that they are qualified to receive state aid.

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.

Conditions for allocation of funding from Innovation Norway

If the project is awarded funding from Innovation Norway the conditions for the allocation will be set out in the allocation letter.

The following companies or projects are not eligible to receive state aid:

  • companies subject to an outstanding recovery order for state aid deemed to be illegal;
  • companies defined as an “undertaking in difficulty”;
  • projects that have already been started;
  • projects involving export-related activities.

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) in connection with the revised grant proposal.

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Relevant thematic areas for this call

Transport and mobility

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.

  • Grant applications and all attachments, may be submitted in Norwegian or English.
  • All attachments must be uploaded in PDF format.
  • The earliest permitted project start-up date is 26 September 2019. Please note, the final decision regarding funding is expected to be announced in December 2019, and any project activities begun before an application has been processed and approved, and the contract with the Research Council or Innovation Norway has been signed, are undertaken at the project partners’ own risk.
  • The latest permitted project start-up date is 1 March 2020.

All the templates for attachments to the application are available for download at the bottom of this call for proposals.

Mandatory attachments

  • A project description of maximum 10 pages using the designated template.
  • A budget table for a Pilot-T project using the designated template.
  • Information about the applicant and each of the participating companies, using the designated template.
  • A CV for the project manager, using the designated template.
  • CVs for key project participants carrying out central R&D tasks under the project, using the designated template (to be uploaded under “Other”).

Grant applications that do not satisfy the above requirements will be rejected. Links to websites and documents, as well as other attachments than those specified above, will not be included in the application review process.

Optional attachments

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

Assessment criteria

The Pilot-T scheme is a collaborative effort between the Research Council and Innovation Norway commissioned by the Ministry of Transport. Grant applications for funding under the Pilot-T scheme are to be submitted via the Research Council’s online application system, before the deadline of 25 September 2019 at 13:00 CEST. A committee comprised of case officers from Innovation Norway and the Research Council will distribute the applications and determine which applications are to be processed, assessed and potentially funded by the two institutions respectively.

Applications will be distributed between the Research Council and Innovation Norway on the basis of the project proposal’s research content and closeness to market, as well as an overall assessment of funding available from the Research Council and Innovation Norway relative to the grant application pool. Applications to be assessed by Innovation Norway will be transferred and made available to case officers there. For information about Innovation Norway’s Privacy declaration, see here. Information about which institution will deal with the specific grant applications will be published on the Research Council and Innovation Norway websites.

Applications processed by Innovation Norway will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria: Level of innovation, value creation, international market potential, funding plan and implementation capacity.

Applications processed by the Research Council will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria: Excellence, Impact, Implementation as well as realisation and relevance to the text of the call. These criteria are described in detail below.

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 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?

Impact

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?

The potential for value creation for company partners is an indication of the anticipated financial benefits for company partners after the industrialisation and commercialisation processes have been carried out. This potential is to be assessed relative to the overall costs for the entire period (i.e. beyond the R&D project period and costs as well). The underlying presumption is that the realisation will be successful.
The potential for value creation can be the result of
- new sales revenues,
- reduced costs,
- ability to maintain competitiveness.

Socio-economic benefit is an indication of the impact of the project for society beyond the benefits/potential gains for the project partners. Applicants should seek to quantify this potential to the greatest extent possible. The underlying presumption is that the project and its realisation will be successful.
External impacts may include:
- impacts on employment,
- benefits for the public sector,
- benefits for civil society,
- ability of the innovation to help to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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?

Implementation of the R&D project:
• 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?

Realisation of the innovation:
To what extent is the plan for implementation of R&D results and realisation of benefits relevant and appropriate, for instance with regard to:
- risk management plans,
- 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
- IPR issues.

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 does the project support the objectives of the Pilot-T scheme?
• To what extent does the project satisfy the requirements and guidelines set out under the point “To be eligible for funding, a Pilot-T project must:” in the call for proposals?

Administrative procedures

Procedure for applications processed by Innovation Norway: 

Applicants will be notified when their applications have been received by Innovation Norway and given the name of the case officer responsible for the application. The case officer will contact the applicant if any additional information is required and to schedule a meeting as needed.

As required additional information, the applicant may be asked to substantiate that the project for which funding is sought will be fully funded. The provision of own financing is to be presented in the grant application, and a quarterly liquidity budget (to be attached) is generally practical for this. This will not be a requirement for companies where liquidity is plainly not a challenge, but all companies are required to draft and attach an operating budget for the next 3–5 years as well as budgets reflecting the financial impact of the project (profitability of the project).

The nature and scope of the project may make it necessary to involve external referees in the assessment process. In such cases, the company will be contacted ahead of time to clarify relevance, impartiality, etc., relating to the specific specialists. For more information about how and why advisory panels are used, visit Innovation Norway’s website (Norwegian only).

Procedure for applications processed by the Research Council: 

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.