Pilot-T Project: New Solutions in the Interface between Mobility and ICT

Planned

This call for proposals may be subject to revision until six weeks before the application submission deadline. It will be possible to create and submit grant applications from that date and up to the submission deadline. If the call is significantly revised, we will provide notification here.

24 June: Text about projects sought under the Government’s third package of financial measures to address the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak added.

Purpose

The purpose of this call for proposals for Pilot-T projects is to accelerate the application of novel, smart mobility solutions by developing and testing/piloting technologies and business models with the potential to enhance the transport system of tomorrow by increasing mobility, improving safety and security, and reducing emissions.

In a Pilot-T project, a company cooperates with other entities to generate new knowledge or to use existing knowledge in new ways or areas. The Pilot-T scheme is a collaborative effort between the Research Council and Innovation Norway commissioned by the Ministry of Transport.

Important dates

05 Aug 2020

Date call is made active

16 Sep 2020

Application submission deadline

01 Jan 2021

Earliest permitted project start

01 Mar 2021

Latest permitted project start

29 Feb 2024

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates

About the call for proposals

Under the Government’s third package of financial measures to address the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, the Ministry of Climate and Environment has provided a one-time allocation for research-driven innovation involving low-emissions solutions. In connection with this, the Research Council is seeking projects that promote the development of solutions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and encourage the transition to a low-emissions or zero-emissions society, as well as projects that lead to solutions to preserve biodiversity.

To be eligible for funding, a Pilot-T project must:

  • be in the interface between mobility and ICT technologies;
  • help to achieve the transport policy objective of a transport system with better mobility, improved safety and security and/or reduced emissions;
  • generate industrial development and new knowledge in Norway and enable Norwegian business and industry to take advantage of the potential for value creation inherent in restructuring the transport sector;
  • incorporate multiple actors in a collaborative effort;
  • have a need for new knowledge in order to be realised;
  • result in a pilot or full-scale solution that is applied.

See the definition of “experimental development” and "industrial research" for a description of the type of pilot testing and demonstration activities that are eligible for support. For more information about the types of activities projects may incorporate, please see under “What can you seek funding for?” below.

The applicant or its partner(s) is required to have its own R&D expertise. Alternatively, R&D services may be procured from an approved research organisation.

Priority will be given to projects that:

  • have a high level of innovation;
  • include a clear, specified plan for realising the innovation;
  • have carried out an assessment of regulatory risk, when this is relevant;
  • are led by women project managers, assuming all factors relating to scientific merit and relevance are essentially equal.

Which projects will be eligible to receive funding?
The Research Council is announcing up to NOK 75 million in funding for new Pilot-T projects in 2020.

This call is targeted towards both commercial and passenger transport within all four modes of transport – road, rail, air and sea.

The call is not open to activities related to offshore operations, fisheries or the development of technology for the maritime sector with no direct connection to commercial and/or passenger transport.

Projects involving the development of environment-friendly energy for transport, including battery power, hydrogen and biofuels are not eligible to receive funding under this call. Projects related to this area should be directed to the ENERGIX and MAROFF programmes at the Research Council, the Environmental Technology Scheme at Innovation Norway or to Enova.

Who is eligible to apply?

Only companies that conduct business activities in Norway and are registered with a Norwegian enterprise identity number under the Register of Business Enterprises are eligible to apply. In the case of multiple companies collaborating on a project, one of the companies must serve as formal applicant on behalf of the consortium.

Groups of companies (e.g. industry organisations), sole proprietorships, research organisations and other organisations are not eligible to apply for funding.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner (applicant)
The Project Owner’s (company’s) objective must be to carry out an R&D-based Innovation Project designed to lead to sustainable growth and enhanced competitiveness for the company. The Project Owner must be able to secure project funding (in addition to the Pilot-T funding) and to implement other measures needed to utilise the project results in connection with its own activities.

Requirements relating to collaboration
The Research Council requires that the project is carried out in collaboration with other actors in the business or public sector and/or that R&D services for the project are procured from an approved research organisation. Grant proposals must describe the partners who will be collaborating in the project, and how they will be involved in the planning and implementation of the project as well as in any purchase, utilisation of, or rights to any project results. Possible forms of collaboration are:

  • The applicant may carry out the project in cooperation with other companies that either cover their own project costs or benefit from project support under the Pilot-T scheme. Partners that are also to make use of Pilot-T scheme funding must meet the same criteria relating to undertakings (as defined under the state aid rules) and satisfy the same requirements as the Project Owner. The applicant may also procure R&D services from a subcontractor.
  • The applicant may carry out the project in effective collaboration with entities in the public sector. 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.” Please note that although this definition states that parties may be relieved of financial risk, under this call for proposals the Research Council and Innovation Norway requires entities in the public sector to cover their own project costs in full.
  • Norwegian research groups may take part in the project if they have responsibility for carrying out specific R&D activities. These partners (suppliers of R&D services) may only have a task-performing role, and the companies collaborating in the project will be responsible for financing the costs of procurement of R&D services from research organisations. It is presumed that R&D suppliers are not in a dependent relationship with any of the company partners, i.e. they operate according to the arm’s length principle. A company partner in the project may not serve as a supplier of R&D service, and vice versa.

Research services for the project may also be procured from international research groups but this in itself does not fulfil the requirements relating to cooperation. Other international partners may be involved in the project provided their participation promotes value creation in Norway, but their costs will not be eligible for Pilot-T support and the international partner must cover all its own costs.

What can you seek funding for?

Support for Pilot-T projects from the Research Council and Innovation Norway is awarded in accordance with the EEA state aid rules. Among other things, this entails that: 

  • Support is only available for project costs relating to R&D activities. Activities that are eligible for support include, but are not limited to, applied research, prototyping, demonstration and pilot testing.
  • Costs for other types of activities and measures to exploit R&D results, such as filing for patents, market surveys and marketing, testing and completion of new products and services are not approved for funding.
  • The level of support (aid intensity) is subject to limitations and will depend on the project’s R&D content. Activities classified as “industrial research” are eligible for a higher aid intensity than “experimental development” activities.
  • Other public funding to the project, or to activities under the project, will affect the amount of Pilot-T funding that can be provided.
  • Notification of all allocated state aid will be published on the Research Council’s website, and allocated state aid of EUR 500 000 or more will be announced in a public register.

It is possible to seek funding to cover part of the costs incurred by companies for 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 that are necessary for the execution of the project, and are categorised as follows:

  • Direct project expenses: costs related to resources set aside specifically for project implementation, for example, payroll costs for project staff.
  • Indirect project expenses: costs related to the use of general resources that the project benefits from. Indirect project costs include 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 grant application form, the project budget is to be broken down into the following cost categories:

  • Payroll and indirect expenses: costs of R&D activities performed by the company’s R&D staff for the project.
  • Procurement of R&D services: costs of contracting R&D suppliers to perform R&D activities for the project.
  • Equipment: costs related to the operation and depreciation of scientific equipment necessary for the execution of the project.
  • Other operating expenses: other project costs related to R&D activities to be performed under the project.

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

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

Calculating support
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. The final grant amount for applications awarded funding will be determined in connection with the signing of the contract. The amount of funding that may be sought is limited to a minimum of NOK 2 million and a maximum of NOK 16 million. The scope of funding for projects must be minimum NOK 4 million for a project period of 1–3 years. Partners from the public sector must cover their own costs in full.

Conditions for funding
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.

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).

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.

Please also refer to the Research Council’s webpage, Conditions for awarding state aid.

Each funding recipient will be evaluated individually and the amount of support will depend on whether the recipient’s project costs involve costs for “industrial research” or “experimental development”.

The Research Council and Innovation Norway provide support for activities that satisfy the definition of “industrial research” and “experimental development”. See the link above for a complete list of approved costs under Article 25 of the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid.

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.

Where should you direct your application?

Innovation Norway
Innovation Norway provides support for market-based innovation projects that generate value creation in Norway. This may involve new use of existing knowledge as well as projects that comprise development, demonstration and/or testing solutions on the market. The innovation must have a high level of novelty, i.e. at the least, the innovation must be new to Norway. Innovation Norway’s call for proposals is available here (in Norwegian).

The Research Council
The Research Council provides support for projects where new knowledge and testing/piloting are needed to realise the project’s innovation concept, i.e. the project’s R&D activities and results are necessary in order to succeed in achieving the innovation. Pilot-T projects with Research Council funding normally involve cooperation with Norwegian R&D organisations, although this is not a requirement. 

If you are not sure where you should direct your application, contact us for information and guidance.

Contact persons (Research Council)

Contact persons (Innovation Norway)

Please note that the Research Council and Innovation Norway will process the applications they receive, respectively, but that applications may be made available to case officers in both organisations when this is appropriate and in consultation with the applicant. If a company submits an application in response to both calls the applications will be checked to determine whether they are identical.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

Energy, transport and low emissions

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.

  • Grant applications and all attachments, may be submitted in Norwegian or English.
  • All attachments must be uploaded in PDF format.
  • The earliest permitted project start-up date is 1 January 2021.
  • The latest permitted project start-up date is 1 March 2021.
  • Applicants must enter at least one project partner in the application form. See the section, “Requirements relating to collaboration”.
  • All the templates for attachments to the application are found at the end of this call.

Mandatory attachments

  • A project description of maximum 10 pages using the designated template.
  • Information about partners for the applicant company and each of the participating companies, using the designated template.
  • A CV for the project manager, using the designated template.
  • CVs for key project participants carrying out central R&D tasks under the project, using the designated template.

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

Optional attachments
A proposal for up to three referees who are presumed to be impartial and qualified to review the grant proposal.

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 proposals will be assessed on the basis of the following 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?

The potential for value creation for company partners is an indication of the anticipated financial benefits for company partners after the industrialisation and commercialisation processes have been carried out. This potential is to be assessed relative to the overall costs for the entire period (i.e. beyond the R&D project period and costs as well). The underlying presumption is that the realisation will be successful.
The potential for value creation can be the result of
- new sales revenues,
- reduced costs,
- ability to maintain competitiveness.

Socio-economic benefit is an indication of the impact of the project for society beyond the benefits/potential gains for the project partners. Applicants should seek to quantify this potential to the greatest extent possible. The underlying presumption is that the project and its realisation will be successful.
External impacts may include:
- impacts on employment,
- benefits for the public sector,
- benefits for civil society,
- ability of the innovation to help to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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?

Implementation of the R&D project:
• 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?

Realisation of the innovation:
To what extent is the plan for implementation of R&D results and realisation of benefits relevant and appropriate, for instance with regard to:
- risk management plans,
- 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
- IPR issues.

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 does the project support the objectives of the Pilot-T scheme?
• To what extent does the project satisfy the requirements and guidelines set out under the point “To be eligible for funding, a Pilot-T project must:” in the call for proposals?

Administrative procedures

Grant applications will be assessed based on the content in the application form and mandatory attachments. Links to websites and documents, as well as other attachments than those specified above, will not be included in the application review process.

Grant applications and mandatory attachments will be made available to external referees via a digital portal. These referees will assess Excellence, Impact and Implementation. The referees will convene in a panel meeting to reach a unified assessment of the grant application for each of these three criteria.

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 the Research Council case officers in relation to a fourth criterion, “Relevance to the call for proposals”. The assessment of the relevance criterion will attach importance to the project’s contribution to the transport system of tomorrow in terms of increasing mobility, improving safety and security, and reducing emissions through the accelerated application of effective solutions.

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 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 portfolio board will attach importance to achieving a balanced project portfolio within its sphere of responsibility, viewed in light of ongoing projects and any applications under other calls for proposals that address the aims of the Pilot-T or Transport 2025 initiatives. 

The meetings of the portfolio board will be held in mid-December. The final funding decision will be announced after this meeting.

Projects recommended for funding will be requested to submit further information about the project itself and the project partners.