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Collaborative Project to meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges

Important dates

29 Jun 2020

Date call is made active

02 Sep 2020

Application submission deadline

01 Jan 2021

Earliest permitted project start

01 Jun 2021

Latest permitted project start

31 May 2025

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates


Collaborative and Knowledge-building Projects are to develop new knowledge and generate research competence needed by society or the business sector to address important societal challenges. The projects are to encourage and support collaboration between research organisations and stakeholders from outside the research sector that represent societal and/or industry needs for knowledge and research competence.

About the call for proposals

This is a joint call for proposals in which multiple Research Council programmes are participating. An estimated total of approximately NOK 1.billion is available for basic and applied research activities alikeEach relevant thematic area is described separately belowApplicants are to select the thematic area and topic in the application form themselvesPlease note that in cases where applicants have clearly selected the wrong topicthe Research Council may consult with the applicant to move grant proposals across the various thematic areas. 

The text describing each thematic area will specify whether funding may or may not be allocated as state aid. 

Applicants are advised to consult the Guide for Applicants for answers to various questions related to this application type. 

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

Who is eligible to apply?

The call is open to approved Norwegian research organisations in binding cooperation with relevant actors from public sector entities, non-governmental organisations, trade and industry and/or other private organisations.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner  

The organisation listed as the Project Owner in the grant application must have approved the submission of the grant application to the Research Council. The grant application must describe how the project incorporates the strategic objectives and priorities of the Project Owner. 

Requirements relating to the project manager  

To qualify as project manager, you must have an approved doctorate or equivalent qualifications before the date of the application submission deadline. If you do not have an approved doctorate but are qualified at associate professorship level or have current or previous employment in a position as forsker 1 (research professor), forsker 2 (senior researcher) or seniorforsker (senior researcher), you are also qualified. 

The roles of project manager and project administrator in the project may not be filled by the same individual. 

Requirements relating to partners  

  • Projects are to be carried out by one or more research organisations in binding cooperation with relevant actors from public sector entities, non-governmental organisations, Norwegian trade and industry and/or other private organisations. 
  • The grant application must describe how the project incorporates the strategic objectives and priorities of all the partners.  
  • All project partners are required to take active part in planning and following up the project as well as in disseminating project results and promoting the utilisation of new knowledge. 
  • Projects must involve at least two partners that are not research organisations. 
  • The project proposal must describe how the knowledge developed under the project will be of benefit to wider user groups. The project must not involve contract research for individual companies. 
  • Projects are to have a steering committee or reference group comprising representatives from the project partners. 
  • A minimum requirement has been specified under each thematic area for how much of the project budget the partners’ costs combined must comprise. 
  • Companies from outside Norway may participate as partners in the project, but their costs are not to be entered in the budget tables and will not be included as part of the minimum requirement for partners’ combined costs. 
  • The extent to which project partners are eligible to receive support from the Research Council to cover their project costs, or whether they must fully or partially cover their own costs will be specified under each thematic area. 

A project participant may not be assigned two different roles in the project. This means that a sub-contractor for the project may not have the role of Project Owner or partner in the same project.  

What can you seek funding for?

Scope of funding  

  • The minimum amount of funding that may be sought is NOK 4 million.
  • Applicants may seek funding to cover actual costs that are necessary for the execution of the project. For more detailed information about what to enter in the project budget, please see the Research Council website 
  • In the thematic areas which allow state aid to companiesthe state aid rules set certain limitations. 
  • Costs to be incurred by project partners are to be entered into the budget tables along the same lines as costs to the Project Owner. 
  • Any costs to be incurred by collaborating companies from outside Norway are not to be entered into the budget tablesFunding will not be granted to cover costs incurred by non-Norwegian companiesHoweverthese costs must be specified and clearly explained in the grant application.  
  • If the project includes doctoral and post-doctoral research fellowships and there are concrete plans in place for research stays abroad for the fellowship-holders, funding for these stays may be included in the grant applicationThe Research Council has also issued separate call for Research Stays Abroad for Doctoral and Post-doctoral Research FellowsThe project manager may seek funding under that call if plans for research stays abroad for research fellows affiliated with the project emerge later in the project period.  

 Conditions for funding 

Research Council funding is only to go to the non-economic activity of the research organisations in the form of independent research. 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). 

The state aid rules set clear limitations on the aid intensity that may be granted to these companies, depending on enterprise size and the type of activity to be carried out. Projects recommended for funding will be required to provide additional information about the project and the project partners to ensure that the project is carried out in compliance with state aid rules. 

The project is to be implemented by means of effective collaboration as defined in the state aid rules. 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.” 

If the project is awarded funding, the Project Owner is to draw up collaboration agreements with all of the Norwegian and international partners in the project. The collaboration agreements regulate the reciprocal rights and obligations of the partners and safeguard the integrity and autonomy of the research. The collaboration agreement is to ensure that no participating undertaking receives indirect state aid from a research organisation serving as the Project Owner or partner. The agreement must therefore include conditions for the collaboration which ensure compliance with paragraph 28 of the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s guidelines for state aid for research and development and innovation.  

"Where collaboration projects are carried out jointly by undertakings and research organisations or research infrastructures, the Authority considers that no indirect State aid is awarded to the participating undertakings through those entities due to favorable conditions of the collaboration if one of the following conditions is fulfilled: 

  1. b) the results of the collaboration which do not give rise to IPR may be widely disseminated and any IPR resulting from the activities of research organisations or research infrastructures are fully allocated to those entities; or
    c) any IPR resulting from the project, as well as related access rights are allocated to the different collaboration partners in a manner which adequately reflects their work packages, contributions and respective interests; or
    d) the research organisations or research infrastructures receive compensation equivalent to the market price for the IPR which result from their activities and are assigned to the participating undertakings, or to which participating undertakings are allocated access rights. The absolute amount of the value of any contribution, both financial and non-financial, of the participating undertakings to the costs of the research organisations or research infrastructures' activities that resulted in the IPR concerned, may be deducted from that compensation." 

Research results are to be made accessible through sharing and publication in line with the Research Council’s Policy for Open Science. 

The Research Council’s requirements relating to allocation and disbursement of support for the first year and any pledges for subsequent years are set out in the General Terms and Conditions for R&D Projects. 

Projects awarded funding under this call are required to submit an annual project account report documenting incurred project costs and their financing.  

Scientific articles and research data

The Project Owner (R&D organisation) 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.

Requirements relating to medical and health-related studies involving human participants

Relevant thematic areas for this call

The topics encompassed under this call are grouped into the thematic areas below. Any special requirements and guidelines will be indicated for each topic.

Antimicrobial resistance

Areas under pressure

Democracy, administration and renewal

Planning research, Research and innovation for the municipal sector, Municipal and regional government reforms, Societal security and digitalisation

Democracy, power and governancePublic sector renewal and innovationSocietal security

Energy, transport and low emissions

Research on energy policy, economics and sustainability

Energy policy (economics, societal issues, environmental impacts and sustainability)

Global development and international relations

Health, welfare and trade and industry cooperation in the Barents region

Foreign and international relations


Aquaculture research, Maritime research, Marine research

AquacultureMaritime sectorFisheriesFood - Blue sector


Oral health, multimorbidity and patient safety, Public health, treatment and municipal services, Women's health and gender perspectives

Climate and polar research

Cultural environments

Cultural monuments and environmentsTerrestrial land-use and land-use changesPolar

Land-based food, the environment and bioresources

Land-based food systems, Hazardous waste, Cultural environments, Food and agriculture industries, Circular value chains for products that contain plastic

BioeconomyFoodstuffs and foodstuff processingGlobal food securityCircular economyTerrestrial pollution, including hazardous substancesCultural monuments and environmentsTerrestrial land-use and land-use changesAgricultureForestryPolarFood

Enabling technologies

Biotechnology, Societal security and digitalisation

BiotechnologyResearch on ICT development

Education and competence

Primary and lower secondary teacher education, Research on the effects of measures

Teaching and learningProfessional education and practice

Welfare, culture and society

Welfare and working life

Migration, immigration and integrationWelfareWorking life and labour market

Practical information

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. 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. 

  • The grant application, including all attachments, must be submitted in English. 
  • All mandatory attachments must be included. 
  • The project description must be written using the designated template found at the end of this call. 
  • Requirements relating to the Project Owner (research organisation) must be satisfied. 
  • Requirements relating to the partners must be satisfied. 
  • The project must start between 1 January 2021 and 1 June 2021Projects approved for funding that have not started within this period may lose their allocation. 

Mandatory attachments  

  • A project description of maximum 11 pages using the designated template found at the end of this call 
  • CVs (maximum four pages each) for the project manager and key project participants/work package leaders using the designated template found at the end of this call. 
  • Letters of Intent from each partner listedThe letter must explain why the research project is important to the partner and describe the planned contributions to the project.  
  • For projects encompassing doctoral degrees, a letter of confirmation from the degree-conferring university/institution. This does not apply if the Project Owner is a degree-conferring institution. To be uploaded under Attachments/Other items

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

Optional attachments  

  • Applicants are free to propose up to three referees who are presumed to be impartial and qualified to review the grant proposal. The Research Council is not under any obligation to use the proposed referees, but may use them as needed. 

Attachments other than those specified above, as well as any links to websites in the grant application, will not be included in the application review process.  

Assessment criteria

Grant applications will be assessed in relation to the following criteria:


The extent to which the proposed work is ambitious, novel, and goes beyond the state-of-the-art
• Scientific creativity and originality.
• Novelty and boldness of hypotheses or research questions.
• Potential for development of new knowledge beyond the current state of the art, including significant theoretical, methodological, experimental or empirical advancement.

The quality of the proposed R&D activities
• Quality of the research questions, hypotheses and project objectives, and the extent to which they are clearly and adequately specified.
• Credibility and appropriateness of the theoretical approach, research design and use of scientific methods. Appropriate consideration of interdisciplinary approaches.
• The extent to which appropriate consideration has been given to societal responsibility, ethical issues and gender dimensions in research content.
• The extent to which appropriate consideration has been given to the use of stakeholder/user knowledge.


Potential impact of the proposed research
• The extent to which the planned outputs of the project address important present and/or future scientific challenges.
• The extent to which the planned outputs of the project address important present and/or future challenges for the sector(s).
• The extent to which the competence developed and planned outputs of the project will provide the basis for value creation in Norwegian business and/or development of the public sector.
• The extent to which the planned outputs of the project address UN Sustainable Development Goals or other important present and/or future societal challenges.
• The extent to which the potential impacts are clearly formulated and plausible.

Communication and exploitation
• Quality and scope of communication and engagement activities targeted towards relevant stakeholders/users.
• The extent to which the partners are involved in dissemination and utilisation of the project results.


The quality of the project manager and project group
• The extent to which the project manager has relevant expertise and experience and demonstrated ability to perform high-quality research (as appropriate to the career stage).
• The degree of complementarity of the participants and the extent to which the project group has the necessary expertise needed to undertake the research effectively.

The quality of the project organisation and management
• Effectiveness of the project organisation, including the extent to which resources assigned to work packages are aligned with project objectives and deliverables.
• Appropriateness of the allocation of tasks, ensuring that all participants have a valid role and adequate resources in the project to fulfil that role.
• Appropriateness of the proposed management structures and governance.
• Appropriateness of the partners' contribution to the governance and execution of the project.

Relevance to the call for proposals

The extent to which the grant application satisfies the thematic guidelines and priorities of the call. In addition, the extent to which the application meets the other guidelines and requirements set out in the call.

Administrative procedures

Once the grant applications have been received, the Research Council will conduct a preliminary administrative review to ensure that they satisfy all the stipulated formal requirements. Grant applications that do not comply with the requirements will be rejected.  

Grant applications that satisfy the formal requirements will be distributed to referee panels comprised of external specialists with expertise in the relevant thematic areas and disciplines. For each grant application, we check to ensure that the panel meets requirements relating to impartiality and has sufficient expertise to review the application’s research topic. Assessments from individual external specialists will be obtained in connection with some applications to support the panel in reaching a consensus-based assessment. The panel will assess the three criteria Excellence, Impact and Implementation, and will assign a consensus-based mark for each of these criteria. 

After the panel review, the Research Council will conduct an assessment of the relevance criterion. Applications that receive an average mark of 4 or lower from the panel will not be eligible for funding and will therefore not be assessed in relation to relevance.  

The assessment of the relevance criterion and the panel’s review are used to calculate the grant application’s overall mark, which is the average of the marks for the four equally weighted criteria. The Research Council will draw up a recommendation on which applications to fund based on an overall assessment of the project portfolio. The final decision on funding awards will be taken by the portfolio boards.  

The project portfolio assessment will take the following factors into account: 

  • The grant applications’ overall and individual marks; 
  • Assuming all factors relating to scientific merit and relevance are essentially equal, priority will be given to projects led by women project managers. 
  • The thematic distribution, i.e. the distribution of proposed projects and ongoing projects in relation to priorities set for the relevant topic;
  • The relative volume and quality of grant applications under each of the other calls in 2020 that are relevant for the topic;  
  • Any changes in the financial or scientific framework set by the ministries. 

The meetings of the portfolio boards will be held in mid-December. The final funding decision will be announced after these meetings. 

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. This call is approved as a funding scheme by the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) in aid reference 32/2019/R&D&I under the General Block Exemption Regulation. 


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