COVID-19 Emergency Call for Proposals: Collaborative and Knowledge-building Projects for the Fight Against Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Completed

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You can call the Research Council of Norway help desk +47 22 03 72 00 if you need help with filling out and submitting the application. The help desk will be open on Friday 27.3 between 11.00- 14.00, Monday 30.3 between kl 09-14, and Thursday 31.3 between 08.00-13.00

New information regarding the COVID-19 Emergency Call

On top of the amount of funding available for the call for proposals (NOK 30 mill), additional NOK 20 mill from the development aid budget will be made available for project proposals within the thematic area that addresses and have direct relevance for low income countries as defined in the OECD DAC list.

We are furthermore exploring other opportunities to increase the financial amount available for this call. This includes dialogs with the Ministries as well as other financing organizations

In order to be eligible to apply to this call for proposals, you must have submitted a project outline to the deadline 16 march 2020. You will find a list of the research organisations who are eligible to apply here

You can find the call for project outlines here (the call is completed and we wil not accept new project outlines).

Please note that the project description can be a maximum of 11 pages. The template previously said not to exceed 10 pages, but this has now been changed.

Purpose

On 31 December 2019, the local authorities of Wuhan (China), reported a cluster of pneumonia cases which turned out to be caused by a novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). By March 2020 the virus has already spread in over 80 countries outside China. On 30 January 2020 the WHO declared the recent COVID-19 outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

With this call for proposals we wish to contribute to the global response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Our aim is to support research that will enable us to understand and contain the new COVID-19, as well as to improve efficient patient management and public health (national and international) preparedness and response to the current and analogous outbreaks that may come in the future.

Important dates

12 Mar 2020

Date call is made active

31 Mar 2020

Application submission deadline

01 Jul 2020

Latest permitted project start

30 Jun 2022

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates

About the call for proposals

The call for proposals is based on the recent research priorities defined by the WHO(pdf). International collaboration with research groups in other countries, including those funded by GLOPID-R member organisations to foster larger-scale studies, is encouraged. The scope of the proposals may include different topics:

  • Epidemiological observational studies including risk factor determination, detailed investigation of transmission events and infectiousness (included susceptibility of infection).
  • Clinical observational studies on severity, natural history, optimal sampling strategies and triage processes.
  • Registry-based follow-up of critically ill patients.
  • National clinical trials that are embedded in international multicentre clinical trials based on the WHO Model protocol when relevant, and using WHO’s updated prioritisation criteria to guide choice of interventions for evaluation, including therapeutics and supportive measures.
  • Public health response and social countermeasures:
    • Understanding the social dynamics of transmission and vulnerability.
    • Risk communication, social dynamics and public health response. This may also include traditional and social media.
    • Developing strategies to combat misinformation, stigma, and fear.
    • Cultural dimensions of the epidemic such as, examining how individuals and communities understand and react to the disease, including special attention to vulnerable groups.
    • Studying international relations, global coordination, response systems and crisis management.
  • Supporting healthcare system response including infection prevention and control, including best practice to protect health care workers.
  • Other research projects related to cooperation across sectors that encompass e.g. education, public transport and economic impacts.

The proposal must address at least one of the objectives mentioned above.

Excluded from the current call: Basic and translational research projects, development og diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics.

This call for proposals is only in English, and is the legally binding version.

Who is eligible to apply?

Approved Norwegian research organisations may apply in cooperation with the public and/or private sectors, other public entities and/or private organisations. Stakeholders from outside the research sector may be municipalities, companies, special interest organisations and others. See guide for applicants.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner

The research organisation is to be entered as the Project Owner in the application form, and must have authorised the submission of the grant application.

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 the Norwegian research institute sector or a health trust in a position as forsker 1 (research professor), forsker 2 (senior researcher) or seniorforsker (senior researcher), you are also qualified.

Requirements relating to collaboration partners

You may apply in cooperation with the public and/or private sectors, other public entities and/or private organisations. Stakeholders from outside the research sector may be municipalities, companies, special interest organisations and others. We also encourage international cooperation with relevant international research institutions. See guide for applicants.

What can you seek funding for?

Please see the webpage on “What to enter in the project budget” for details and important information.

The following costs can be covered by the Research Council:

  • Payroll and indirect expenses related to researcher time (including research fellowship positions) at the research organisations participating in the project.
  • Procurement of R&D services. The Project Owner and partners may purchase R&D-related services from public and private suppliers individually or together.
  • Equipment. This encompasses operating and depreciation costs for scientific equipment and research infrastructure necessary for the execution of the project.
  • Other operating expenses, which comprise costs for other activities that are necessary to carry out R&D efforts under the project.

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.”

The Project Owner is to draw up collaboration agreements (contracts) 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 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:

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."

Archiving of research data

The Project Owner (research 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.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

Democracy, administration and renewal

Global development

Health

Requirements for this application type

  • The grant application, including all attachments, must be submitted in English.
  • All mandatory attachments must be included.
  • The Research Council may provide NOK 1 000 000-5 000 000 in funding per project under this call. Each applicant must provide at least 20 % own funding.
  • The duration of the project must not exceed 24 months.
  • The project must start as early as possible, at the latest 1 July 2020.

Attachments

The designated templates must be used. They will be found at the end of the call for proposals.

Mandatory attachments

  • A project description, maximum 11 pages. Use the designated template, which can be found below.
  • A CV for the project manager, maximum four pages. Use the designated template, which can be found below.

Optional attachments

  • CVs for the key project participants, maximum four pages per CV. Use the designated template, which can be found below.

Assessment criteria

Grant proposals will be assessed on the basis of these criteria:

Excellence

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.

Impact

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.

Implementation

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.

Overall assessment of the referee/panel

This criterion indicates the overall view of the referee/panel, based on the specific criteria which they have been asked to assess.

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 individual external specialists with expertise in the relevant thematic areas and disciplines. For each grant application, we check to ensure that the referees/specialists meet requirements relating to impartiality and has sufficient expertise to review the application’s research topic. The specialists will assess the three criteria Excellence, Impact and Implementation, and will assign a mark for each of these criteria, in addition to an overall mark for the application.

After the individual external specialist reviews, the Research Council will conduct an assessment of the relevance criterion. Applications that receive an overall mark of 4 or lower from the specialists will not be eligible for funding and will therefore not be assessed in relation to relevance.

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 board.

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

  • The grant applications’ overall and individual marks;
  • The grant applications' relevance to the call;
  • 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 in relation to priorities set for the relevant topic;
  • Any changes in the financial or scientific framework set by the ministries.

The meeting of the portfolio boards will be held in mid-April. The final funding decision will be announced after the meeting.

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.