COVID-19 Emergency Call for Proposals: Innovation Project Involving Public-Private Collaboration (BIA-X)

Completed

It is not permitted to seek funding under the call for Innovation Projects for the Industrial Sector (open-ended call for proposals) with the same R&D project submitted to this call. Project proposals that are found to be identical will only be processed under one of the calls.

Purpose

This is a time-limited call for Innovation Projects for the Industrial Sector involving public-private collaboration. The purpose of the call is to stimulate R&D activity that promotes value creation and enhanced international competitiveness for the business sector and encourages innovation and sustainability in the health and care sector.

This call is intended to encourage genuine collaboration to help to address challenges that the public health and care services are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Viktige datoer

20 May 2020

Åpen for søknad

25 May 2020

Søknadsfrist

30 Jun 2020

Final decision regarding funding awards (tentative date)

01 Jul 2020

Earliest permitted project start

01 Oct 2020

Latest permitted project start

30 Sep 2023

Latest permitted project completion

Viktige datoer

About the call for proposals

As part of Norwegian Government’s measures to support health services and the business sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Research Council is announcing a minimum of NOK 30 million in funding under the BIA-X scheme for Innovation Projects for the Industrial Sector with public-private sector collaboration. The funding is intended to stimulate R&D activity that promotes value creation and enhanced international competitiveness for the business sector and innovation and sustainability in the health and care sector.

Projects are to target already recognised needs in public health and care services regarding challenges that are involved in dealing with current and future pandemics, and that will also be of relevance to ensuring the sustainable national and international health services of tomorrow. R&D activities under the projects are to lead to innovations that promote high-quality services in the face of strict infection control measures, reductions in personnel and social distancing. Innovations may be in the form of new or significantly improved products, services, processes, structures for management/organisation or ideas that are introduced to promote value creation and benefit society.

Examples of relevant areas:

  • solutions for dialogue with the population and long-distance follow-up and treatment of patients;
  • use of health data for monitoring health services and public health in near real-time;
  • preparedness related to managing health crises, including the development and production of equipment, medicines and diagnostic tests.

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). In addition, the common provisions set out in Chapter 1 of the regulation must also apply. See the regulation here.

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.

State aid may not be given to an undertaking which is subject to an outstanding recovery order following a formal decision by the EFTA Surveillance Authority or the European Commission that state aid received is illegal and incompatible with the internal market. Nor may support be granted to an enterprise that is defined as an “undertaking in difficulty” under the state aid rules.

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

Who is eligible to apply?

This call is open to companies that have been issued an enterprise number under the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises and that carry out economic activity in Norway. The formal applicant (company) will be the Project Owner in the contract with the Research Council.

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

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner
The Project Owner must be a company that carries out activities of an industrial or business nature and has been issued an enterprise number under the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises.

Requirements relating to collaboration and roles in the project

  • One or more public sector entities, as defined here, must participate as a partner in the project and must have a need that the R&D project will help to resolve.
  • The project is to be implemented through effective collaboration between the Project Owner and the project partners from the public sector 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.”

  • Other Norwegian companies (company partners) may participate in the project. These will have a portion of their project costs covered through the Research Council’s support for the project, which means they will become recipients of state aid. As a general rule, such company partners must fulfil the criteria set out under “Who is eligible to apply?” to be able to receive support.
  • Norwegian and international specialist groups and research organisations may take part in the project as sub-contractors, responsible for carrying out specific R&D activities commissioned by companies involved in the project. Suppliers of R&D services to the project may not claim any rights to project results and will not be registered as partners.
  • Other international and public stakeholders may take part in the project, but are not be eligible for support from the Research Council.
  • A project participant may only be assigned a single role in the project. This means that the Project Owner and any partners (public sector entity or other company partners) must not serve as a supplier of R&D services in the same project, and vice versa.
  • The Project Owner or one of the partners may be not in a dependent relationship with any of the R&D suppliers in the project, for example as part of the same business concern. They must operate according to the arm’s length principle.
  • Companies (Project Owner and partners) participating in the project 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.
  • All project partners must be listed in the section for “Collaborating partners and R&D suppliers” in the application form.
  • The collaborative constellation involved in the project is expected to lay a foundation for long-term cooperation, the development and spread of knowledge, and for effective mutual exploitation of the project results.

About Innovation Projects

  • The Innovation Project is to build on a need within the health and care services and a unique innovative idea by one or more companies collaborating 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. Innovation in this context may also entail significant improvements in or new characteristics of existing products, services or processes.
  • The companies and the public sector partners collaborating in the project have a need for new knowledge or new technology in order to succeed in achieving the project’s intended innovation. The knowledge or technology is to be developed through R&D activities using recognised methodology. The project’s R&D activities must satisfy the definition of either “industrial research” or “experimental development” as set out in the state aid rules.
  • The project has access to the expertise needed to carry out the R&D activities. The Project Owner (company) or collaborating company partners in the project may contract suppliers of R&D services to perform R&D tasks. Such sub-contractors may be research organisations (universities, university colleges, research institutes) or other independent suppliers of R&D services. The project may use R&D suppliers from outside Norway 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 is such that the companies would not be able to carry out the project without Research Council funding. This means that support from the Research Council is critical to effectuate the implementation of the R&D activities. Project funding may also be crucial to obtaining additional private investment in the companies for the development and realisation of the innovation.
  • The project incorporates clear targets and a concrete plan for its R&D activities and for utilising the results. Project results and knowledge that do not need protection on account of planned commercial utilisation by the companies in the project are to be communicated via publication and other relevant dissemination channels.

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?

The Research Council’s support for innovation projects applies only to R&D activities. The Research Council does not provide support for operational activities and measures to exploit R&D results, such as: protection of intellectual rights, market surveys and marketing, and testing and completion of new products or services.

It is possible to seek funding to cover part of the costs incurred by companies and public sector partners for R&D activities performed under the project. This encompasses support for expenses for own performance of R&D activities and costs for procurement of R&D services from R&D suppliers.

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

In the grant application form, the project budget is to be broken down into the following cost categories:

  • Payroll and indirect expenses: costs associated with the company’s own R&D activities under the project itself.
  • Procurement of R&D services: costs associated with contracting R&D suppliers to perform R&D activities.
  • Equipment: costs related to the operation and depreciation of scientific equipment necessary for the execution of the project.
  • Other operating expenses: costs associated with other activities that are necessary in order to perform R&D activities under the project.

The budgeted project costs must comply with the description set out in Article 25(3) of the General Block Exemption Regulation.

Scope of funding
The scope of funding for projects must be minimum NOK 2 million for a project period of 1–3 years. The maximum amount of support available from the Research Council for a project is NOK 8 million.

The level of support (aid intensity) available for a company’s project costs will depend on the project’s content and the type of R&D activities as defined in the state aid rules. These include the size of the company, the project’s research activities and collaborative constellations. The level of support may therefore vary from 25 per cent to 80 per cent in the grants awarded. For partners from the public sector the level of support is limited to 80 per cent. The final grant amount for applications awarded funding will be determined in connection with the signing of the contract.

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. When an undertaking receives support to cover a portion of its project costs, either in the role as Project Owner or 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).

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.

  • 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 four months after notification of the funding award. 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.

Archiving of research data

The Project Owner (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.

About medical and health-related trials involving human subjects
For medical and health-related trials involving human subjects the Research Council stipulates special requirements and guidelines for the registration of studies and public disclosure of results.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

Industry and services

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.

  • All attachments must be in PDF format and uploaded as an attachment to the grant application form. The designated templates are found at the end of the call for proposals.
  • The project description must be written using the designated template. All items must be completed.
  • If the applicant has submitted the same or similar grant proposals to other Research Council calls for proposals, this must be stated in the grant application.
  • Applicants must enter at least one project partner that is a public sector entity.
  • All project costs are to be budgeted in accordance with Research Council guidelines.

Mandatory attachments

  • A project description of maximum 10 pages using the designated template. Please note that this call has a dedicated template.
  • Information about partners for the company submitting the grant application (Project Owner) and each of the participating companies (company partners) using the designated template. Please note that there is a new template for 2020.
  • CVs for the project manager and other key project participants (e.g. individuals responsible for the project’s work packages) using the designated templates.

The designated templates are found at the end of the call for proposals.

All requirements stipulated in this call for proposals must be satisfied. Grant applications that do not satisfy the requirements relating to the application type, to the Project Owner or to collaboration and roles in the project 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. There is no technical validation of the content of the attachments you upload, so please make sure that you upload the correct file for the selected type of attachment.

Assessment criteria

Grant applications will be assessed using four 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 innovation represent 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?

• To what extent will the results of the project facilitate value creation and generate benefits for the company and public sector 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?

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?

• 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 and mandatory attachments will be made available to external referees via a digital portal. These referees will assess Excellence, Impact and Implementation. Each application will be assessed by an expert panel generally comprised of three referees. The panel submits an assessment of the grant application for each of these three criteria based on consensus.

Grant applications assigned a mark of 4 or higher for each of the criteria (on a scale from 1–7, where 7 is the highest mark) will subsequently be assessed by Research Council case officers in relation to a fourth criterion, “Relevance to the call for proposals”. The assessment of all four criteria will be consolidated into a single, overall mark that indicates the merit of the project proposal.

The Research Council administration will present the project proposals and their respective marks to the relevant Research Council portfolio boards for the final funding decision.

Each portfolio board will also act in accordance with the Research Council’s general policy for allocation of funding, including a focus on:

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

The outcome of the application review process will be announced in the beginning of July.