Innovation Project for the Industrial Sector

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If the call is significantly revised, we will provide notification here.

24 June: Text about projects sought in connection with the Government’s third package of financial measures to address the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak added under the priority area Realising the transition to a greener society within land-based food and bioresources.

Purpose

Innovation Projects for the Industrial Sector is a funding instrument providing grants to business led innovation projects that make extensive use of research and development (R&D) to arrive at an innovative solution to a problem or opportunity in industry. Innovation Projects intends to deliver economic value for all companies and project partners involved, and for society at large from funding environmentally sustainable innovations and disseminating new knowledge.

The aim of this call is to stimulate companies in industryto invest in and utilize R&D as a crucial part of their innovation strategy for sustainable competitive advantage and growth.

About the call for proposals

The Research Council is announcing a total of up to NOK 1.5 billion in grants for Innovation Projects in Industry. This funding is intended to encourage companies to invest in R&D that can increase competitiveness, restructuring and value creation. Projects are to contribute to sustainable development in keeping with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Innovation Projects are also to lead to additional socio-economic benefits through e.g. the sharing of research-based knowledge and activities to address societal challenges.

This call for proposals, encompasses the full breadth of the Norwegian business sector, and includes all regions and branches of industry. The Research Council is seeking project proposals from all fields of research, technologies, problem areas or markets as well as from companies of all sizes.

This call is open-ended, i.e. it does not have a fixed submission deadline and project grant applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Accepted applications will be processed in batches at regular intervals. For more information, see below under section “Administrative procedures”.

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 be applied. For more information about the regulations see here.

This funding scheme is practised in compliance with the EEA state aid rules. This means that conditions and concepts laid forth in this call 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 shall take 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 call for proposals has been approved as an aid scheme by The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) with the reference: GBER15/2020/R&D&I.

The Norwegian language version of this call for proposals is the legally binding version. In the event of the need for significant changes to the call the Research Council will provide notification three months in advance.

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. Public enterprises that carry out activities of an industrial or business nature may also serve as the formal applicant.

The formal applicant (company/public enterprise) will be the designated Project Owner under 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 or public enterprise that carries out activities of an industrial or business nature and has been issued an enterprise number under the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises.

The Project Owner must secure funding for the project and make provisions for the utilisation of the the results from the innovation project.

Requirements relating to collaboration and roles in the project

  • The Project Owner (a company) must carry out the project together with at least one other partner. Partners may be either a company partner or a supplier of R&D services. All project partners (other than the Project Owner) must be listed in the section for “Project partners and R&D suppliers” in the application form. More information about partners and R&D suppliers is available here.
  • The Project Owner (a company) may carry out the project in a binding collaboration with other companies (company partners) in Norway. These companies will have an eligible part of their project costs fundedby the Research Council, which means the participating companies will become recipients of state aid. As a generalrule, such partners must fulfil the criteria set forth under the section “Who is eligible to apply?” to be able to receive funding.
  • Norwegian and international R&D and scientific organisations may take part in the project as R&D Suppliers responsible for carrying out specific R&D activities commissioned by partner companies involved in the project. Suppliers of R&D services to the project may not claim any rights to results from the project.
  • Other international and public sector stakeholders may participate in the project, but are not eligible for funding 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 (company partners) may not take on a role as a R&D supplier in the same project, and vice versa.
  • The Project Owner or one of the partners can not be in an interdependent relationship with any of the R&D suppliers in the project. I.e., where both entities are part of the same corporation. The "arm’s length principle" must be observed when engaging R&D suppliers.
  • Companies (Project Owner and partners) participating in the project that are interdependent and mutually related will be considered as one entity and as a single recipient of funding in accordance with the state aid rules.
  • Because of the partner model and the collaborative nature of Innovation Projects it is expected that the participants share relevant and useful knowledge from the project and facilitate among themselvese mutual exploitation of the project results.

Typical characteristics of a funded project

  • An Innovation Project for the Industrial Sector build on a unique and innovative idea by one or more of the partner companies in the project. The results from the project 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 or new characteristics of existing products, services or processes at the companies.
  • The companies collaborating the project typically have a need for new knowledge or new technology in order to deliver the 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. R&D suppliers 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 expedient. 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 funding from the Research Council is a critical incentive for the partnering companies in the project to invest in and go through with riskful but necessary R&D activities. Project funding from the Research Council may also be instrumental in helping companies obtaining follow-up investments from private risk capital investors.
  • The project incorporates clear aims and objectives and a concrete plan for its R&D activities and for utilising the results. Results from the project including, knowledge and intellectual property that are not bound by protection or confidentiality agreements are disseminated via relevant publications and other relevant dissemination channels.

What can you seek funding for?

Certain expenses and expenditures i.e costs are qualified for funding and only those pertaining to certain R&D activities under the project. The Research Council does not provide funding for operational business activities including activities associated with the commercial exploitation of the R&D results, such as: protection of intellectual property rights, market surveys and marketing, and testing and completion of new products or services. Such costs are therefore not to be included in the project budget.

It is possible to seek funding to cover part of the costs incurred by companies for their R&D activities performed under the project. This encompasses support for a company’s own expenses for performing R&D activities itself and costs for procurement of R&D services from R&D suppliers.

Project costs are actual costs in the project, and are categorised as follows:

  • Direct project expenses: costs related to project implementation, for example, payroll costs for project staff.
  • Indirect project expenses: costs related to 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 budget section in the 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. Please refer to the Research Council’s guidelines for budgeting of Payroll and indirect expenses.
  • 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 Research Council requires that for a project application to be taken into consideration the grant funding scope must be a minimum of NOK 4 million in total and with a project period of 2–4 years. The maximum amount of funding available from the Research Council for a project is NOK 16 million. The maximum amount available for certain thematic areas under the call will be lower.

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 rules pertaining to the size of the company, the project’s research activities and forms of collaboration. The level of funding from the Research Council may therefore vary from 25 per cent to 80 per cent in the grants awarded. For applications awarded funding the final grant amount will be determined in conjunction with contract negotiations.

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 shall 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 listed in a public registry.
  • If the projectapplication is awarded funding, the Project Owner must submit a revised project and grant application in accordance with the conditions set forth by the ruling body in the Research Council. The revised application will incorporate updated and supplementary information about the project and participating partners.
  • For awarded projects, the project must commence no later than four months after the awarded grant was announced. Awarded projects with approved funding that have not started by this date may lose their grant.

The Research Council’s conditions for grant funding are set out in the General Terms and Conditions for R&D Projects. Projects awarded funding under this call, are among other things, required to submit accounting reports annually documenting incurred project costs and their financing.

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Relevant thematic areas for this call

This call for proposals encompasses the full breadth of the Norwegian business sector and includes all regions and branches of industry. Grant applications will

not be limited to any specified fields of research, technologies, problem areas or markets or to companies of a certain size.

Grant funding for projects come from various Research Council budget allocations for R&D support and funding for research and innovation in industry. These monetary allocations for funding come with thematic priorities and objectives for value creation and are presented under the relevant thematic areas below (use the designated arrow to expand each thematic area). For more information about priorities under the individual thematic areas, see the respective Research Council programme funding documents (links provided on the right-hand side). Applicants are encouraged to read these documents to understand the basis for the Council’s qualitative assessment and prioritisation of grant proposals.

The monetary amounts listed under each thematic area indicate how much has been budgeted for R&D support and funding for research and innovation in industry within a given topic of this call. The budgetary amounts may change during the period the call remains open.

The Research Council strives to achieve a balanced project portfolio within the specified topics and thematic areas in the call and across different industry sectors and fields of R&D.

Industry and services

This thematic area is targeted towards large segments of the Norwegian business sector, and funding is available for projects within a wide range of disciplines, technology sectors and business sectors.

Enabling technologies

This thematic area is targeted towards nanotechnology, microtechnology and advanced materials.

Oceans

This thematic area is targeted towards maritime industries, aquaculture, fisheries, the seafood industry and ocean technology across ocean-based industries.

Petroleum

This thematic area is targeted towards upstream petroleum activities.

Energy, transport and low emissions

This thematic area is targeted towards sustainable utilisation and consumption of renewable energy resources, development of the energy system and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Land-based food, the environment and bioresources

This thematic area is targeted towards land-based food and other land-based bioresources

Requirements for this application type

The grant application form must be created and submitted via “My RCN Web”. The grant application, including all attachments, may be submitted in Norwegian or English. This call has an open-ended deadline i.e rolling submission of applications in 2020. A unique grant application may only be submitted once (whereas calls with a fixed deadline may be submitted and resubmitted multiple times up to the submission deadline), and the grant application that is submitted is the one that will be processed.

  • The designated templates for attachements are found at the end of this call for proposals. All attachments must be in PDF format and uploaded as an attachment to the grant application form.
  • A comprehensive project description must be written using the designated template. All sections of the project description 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 in the application form in addition to the Project Owner. Partners may be a collaborating company or an R&D supplier.
  • 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 there is a new template in effect for 2020.
  • 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 in effect 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.

For a grant application to be taken into consideration and being processed all requirements stipulated in this call for proposals must be satisfied. Grant applications that do not satisfy the requirements as stated hitherto in this call will be rejected.

Links to websites and documents, as well as other attachments other than those specified above as mandatory, 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 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?

• To what extent will the project entail a potential for sustainable value creation in Norway with significant economic benefits for the company 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 in a digital format. These referees will assess the applications that meet the mandatory requirements using three individual criteria:

"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 based on each of these three criteria and subsequently arrives at a mark per criterion through a consensus discussion.

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 applying a fourth criterion, “Relevance to the call for proposals”. The assessment and marks for 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 a final ruling decision on awarding grant funding. The portfolio boards will attach importance to achieving a balanced project portfolio in the areas under their purview and in relation to ongoing projects and grant applications submitted under other calls for proposals. The boards’ assessments will be based on the budgetary framework, the text of the call for proposals and documents referred to in the description of the respective thematic areas. An overview of all ongoing projects is available in the Project Databank.

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

  • research ethics perspectives;
  • gender equality, giving preference to projects led by women project managers, assuming the quality of the proposal on all common deeming factors being equal (Ceteris paribus);
  • sustainable development, giving preferance tof projects with a positive impact on sustainability and the environment, assuming the quality of the proposal on all common deeming factors being equal (Ceteris paribus);

Notification of funding decisions
Accepted applications will be processed in batches at regular intervals. For applications submitted by mid-May the project owner and leader will normally be notified of the funding decision by the end of June. Applications submitted by mid-August will normally be notified of the funding decision by the end of September, and applications submitted by mid-October will normally be notified of the funding decision at the latest by the end of December.

Applications submitted between mid-October and 15 December will be notified of the funding decision by mid-February 2021.

A previously unsuccessful grant application ca be resubmitted to the on-going call. If the re-submitted application is without significant changes, it will retain the scientific assessment and overall mark made by the extrernal referees and the funding recommendation given to the portfolio board. On the other hand, if a previously unsuccessful grant application is re-submitted but with significant changes to the project and the grant application itself, this application may be assessed again and by a panel comprised wholly or in part by the same calibre referees who assessed the previous version of the application. Applicants who are re-submitting a previously unsuccessful grant application must provide an account of the relevant changes and their significance to the project in Part 4, item 15 of the project description.

All project grants awarded by the portofolio board are conditional. The project owner will be required to provide additional information about the project and project partners before the grant is valid.