Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Autonomous Systems

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Project start-up must take place within six months of the allocation of funding.

Purpose

The objective of this call is to further develop expertise and capacity in artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous systems. Efforts are to help to move the research front, build vital competence and create new opportunities for people and society in the short and long term.

About the call for proposals

Artificial intelligence has a central role to play in the development of the business sector, the public sector and society at large. Collaboration between research groups and the business and public sectors is essential to unleash the innovation potential of the application of artificial intelligence. Research, data sharing and user involvement are to lead to projects that generate value creation.

The thematic framework for this call encompasses artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous systems. Other technology areas, such as communications technology, will only be of relevance if they support, or play a role in, projects with a focus on artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous systems.

It is crucial to promote greater understanding of the cross-cutting, transformational effects of artificial intelligence and to give adequate consideration to societal needs, sustainability perspectives and accountability. This call is open to interdisciplinary approaches and activity from multiple subject areas and stakeholders.

The constellation of partners taking part in the project will depend on the challenge the project seeks to resolve. Applicants are encouraged to include new, closer forms of collaboration between actors (trade and industry, public entities, users) and across subject areas and disciplines in their projects, when this is relevant for achieving the objectives. This includes collaboration with dynamic international research and innovation environments.

Who is eligible to apply?

Approved Norwegian research organisations in binding cooperation with relevant stakeholders from the public sector, trade and industry, other public entities and/or private organisations.

Projects must involve collaboration between a research group and actors in industry and/or the public sector.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner and project partners  
The project must involve two or more partners that are not research organisations. Partners that are not research organisations must together participate with a minimum of 10 per cent of the total project costs. This may be in the form of work hours or equipment. The Research Council can cover approximately 50 per cent of the contribution from companies and 100 per cent of the contribution from public sector.

More details on degrees of financial support can be found here. Information on foreign partners and other relevant issues can be found here

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

What can you seek funding for?

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. 

The state aid rules set limits for the percentage of funding that companies serving as partners are allowed to receive under the project. More information about the state aid rules is available here 

Companies from outside Norway may participate as partners, but they may not receive funding under the project. 

Services for the project may be procured from Norwegian and international companies according to the usual terms. These companies will then be considered sub-contractors and not partners.   

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

Enabling technologies

Requirements for this application type

The grant application, including all attachments, must be submitted in EnglishAll attachments must be uploaded in PDF format. 

Mandatory attachments  

  • A project description of maximum 10 pages using the designated template for this application type, found at the end of this call. 
  • CVs of maximum 4 pages for the project manager and key project participants using the designated templates, found at the end of this call. 
  • Letters of Intent from each partner listed. The letters 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 Intent from the degree-conferring university/institution to the grant application that confirms the doctoral fellow’s affiliation. 

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. 

Assessment criteria

Grant applications will be assessed in relation to the following 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

Overall assessment of the referee/panel based, on the criteria Excellence, Impact and Implementation.

Administrative procedures

All grant applications that fall within the thematic framework of the call will be assessed by referee panels comprised of external specialists. Grant applications that do not fall within the thematic framework of the call will not be assessed. 

Grant proposals that have received an overall mark of 6 or 7 will be awarded funding. Applications with a lower overall mark will not be eligible for funding. 

Applicants whose project proposals are not awarded funding will not be permitted to reapply for funding for a period of six months from the date the proposal was submitted, but may reapply after that. During this period, no applicants may submit a grant application with the same project proposal to this call. 

Grant application processing will start immediately after the proposal is received. Notification of the funding decision may be expected 8–12 weeks after the date of submission. Please note that this may take longer during holiday periods. 

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.