Collaborative Project to Increase Research-based Innovation in Selected Service Industries

Completed

To be eligible for funding, applicants must first have sought and received funding under the call for proposals, Funding to Mobilise Service Industries for Research, and must have carried out activities targeted towards establishment of collaboration and projects. Funding for establishment of projects and collaboration may be sought under that call until 20 August 2020.  

 

Purpose

Funding is available for projects that will help to increase research and development activity (R&D) in service industries that are currently underrepresented in the Research Council’s trade and industry portfolio: tourism and hospitality, cultural industries, finance and retail/wholesale.

Collaborative and Knowledge-building Projects are to develop new knowledge and generate research competence needed by the business sector. The projects are to encourage and support collaboration between research organisations and companies that need knowledge and research competence.

Important dates

20 Aug 2020

Final application deadline to seek funding for establishment of projects and collaboration

07 Oct 2020

Date call is made active

18 Nov 2020

Application submission deadline

01 Mar 2021

Earliest permitted project start

01 Jun 2021

Latest permitted project start

31 May 2024

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates

About the call for proposals

While the drivers of innovation in the four targeted industry branches (tourism and hospitality, cultural industries, finance and retail/wholesale) are not necessarily identical, they are all affected by regulation, sustainability concerns, the circular economy and digitalisation.

These factors therefore are all viewed as drivers for innovation and restructuring for service industries in these branches.

The objective of this call is to promote:

  • increased research-based innovation in service industries;
  • the development of generic models, processes and methodology that will benefit further innovation activities in companies in the relevant service industries.

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

What thematic areas are covered under the call?
Dialogue with various actors in service industries has revealed a need for research in connection with the development of generic methodology, processes and models. The knowledge generated by research is to encourage companies to carry out future innovation activities to develop new services. 

Projects may address the following topics: sustainable development, sustainable/circular business models, technology/digitalisation (AI/ML/AR), consumer behaviour/insight, organisation and management, personal data protection and GDPR or the like.

What kind of projects is the Research Council looking for?
We are seeking projects involving effective collaboration between research organisations and companies. Projects are to be based on documented knowledge needs within trade and industry. Projects are to generate knowledge that will benefit others, and that will contribute to sustainable development and value creation within these branches of industry.

Contact persons

Who is eligible to apply?

Approved Norwegian research organisations may apply in cooperation with companies. See here for the list of approved Norwegian research organisations.

To be eligible for funding, applicants must first have sought and received funding under the call for proposals, Funding to Mobilise Service Industries for Research, and carried out activities targeted towards establishment of collaboration and projects. Funding for establishment of projects and collaboration may be sought under that call until 20 August 2020.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner
The research organisation listed as the Project Owner in the application form must have authorised the submission of the grant application to the Research Council. The grant application must describe how the project incorporates the strategic objectives and priorities of the Project Owner.

Requirements relating to the project manager
The project manager’s scientific expertise and capability to manage the project will be assessed by peer reviewers. There are no formal requirements for the project manager's qualifications.

The roles of project manager and project administrator in the project may not be filled by the same individual.

Requirements relating to partners
Projects are to be carried out by one or more research organisations in effective collaboration with relevant actors from Norwegian trade and industry.

  • The grant application must describe how the project incorporates the strategic objectives and priorities of all the partners. 
  • All project partners are required to take active part in planning and following up the project as well as in disseminating project results and promoting the utilisation of new knowledge.
  • The project must involve at least two partners that are not research organisations.
  • The project proposal must describe how the knowledge developed under the project will be of benefit to wider user groups. The project must not involve contract research carried out for individual companies.
  • Projects are to have a steering committee or reference group comprising representatives from the project partners.
  • The combined costs of the partners must comprise a minimum of 10 per cent of the project budget. Companies from outside Norway and public entities may participate as partners in the project, but their costs are not to be entered into the budget tables and do not count towards the minimum requirement.
  • Partners that are not research organisations must fund their project costs themselves.

A project participant may not be assigned two different roles in the project. This means that a sub-contractor for the project may not have the role of Project Owner or partner in the same project.

It is important that the anticipated benefits of the project are based on trade and industry needs and documented knowledge gaps within the topics specified in this call for proposals. Both short- and long-term impacts and outcomes are to be described in the grant application.

What can you seek funding for?

Calculating the amount of support
The maximum amount of funding that may be sought is NOK 15 million. Applicants may seek funding to cover up to 90 per cent of the budgeted project costs.

Scope of funding

  • Projects should seek minimum NOK 5 million and maximum NOK 15 million in funding.
  • 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.
  • Costs to be incurred by project partners are to be entered into the budget tables along the same lines as costs to the Project Owner.
  • Partners that are not research organisations must in total contribute a minimum of 10 per cent of the total costs of the project.
  • Please note that the Research Council does not award state aid to companies under this call for proposals.
  • Partners that are not research organisations must fund their project costs themselves.

Conditions for funding
The Research Council will not award support that constitutes state aid under this call. This means that the 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. Companies will not be eligible to receive support to cover projects costs and may not receive indirect support by being given rights to project results under favourable terms.

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.”

Read more about Conditions for awarding state aid on the Research Council website.

If the project is awarded funding, the Project Owner is to draw up collaboration agreements 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 Surveillance Authority’s 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:

  1. a) the participating undertakings bear the full cost of the project; or
    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."

Research results are to be made accessible through sharing and publication in line with the Research Council’s Policy for Open Science.

The Research Council’s requirements relating to allocation and disbursement of support for the first year and any pledges for subsequent years are set out in the General Terms and Conditions for R&D Projects.

Projects awarded funding under this call are required to submit an annual project account report documenting incurred project costs and their financing.

Companies will not be eligible to receive support to cover projects costs.

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

Industry and services

Requirements for this application type

  • The grant application form must be created and submitted via “My RCN Web”. 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.
  • The grant application, including all attachments, must be submitted in English.
  • All mandatory attachments must be included.
  • The project description must be written using the designated template found at the end of this call.
  • Requirements relating to the Project Owner (research organisation) must be satisfied.
  • Requirements relating to the partners must be satisfied.
  • The project must start between 1 January 2021 and 1 June 2021. Projects approved for funding that have not started within this period may lose their allocation.

Mandatory attachments

  • A project description of maximum 11 pages using the designated template found at the end of this call.
  • CVs (maximum four pages each) for the project manager and key project participants/work package leaders using the designated templates found at the end of this call.
  • Letters of Intent from each partner listed. The letter must explain why the research project is important to the partner and describe the planned contributions to the project.

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

Optional attachments

  • Applicants are free to propose up to three referees who are presumed to be impartial and qualified to review the grant proposal. The Research Council is not under any obligation to use the proposed referees, but may use them as needed.

Attachments other than those specified above, as well as any links to websites in the grant application, 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 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.

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.

Priority will be given to projects that:

  • promote increased cooperation between trade and industry and research groups;
  • are clearly based on documented needs within trade and industry;
  • promote sustainable value creation in trade and industry.

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 referee panels comprised of external specialists with expertise in the relevant thematic areas and disciplines. For each grant application, we check to ensure that the panel meets requirements relating to impartiality and has sufficient expertise to review the application’s research topic. Assessments from individual external specialists will be obtained in connection with some applications to support the panel in reaching a consensus-based assessment. The panel will assess the three criteria Excellence, Impact and Implementation, and will assign a consensus-based mark for each of these criteria.

After the panel review, the Research Council will conduct an assessment of the relevance criterion. Applications that receive an average mark of 4 or lower from the panel will not be eligible for funding and will therefore not be assessed in relation to relevance.

The assessment of the relevance criterion and the panel’s review are used to calculate the grant application’s overall mark, which is the average of the marks for the four equally weighted criteria. 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 boards.

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

  • The grant applications’ overall and individual marks;
  • Assuming that 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 and ongoing projects in relation to the four industry branches targeted under the call.

The meetings of the portfolio board will be held in the first quarter of 2021. The final funding decision will be announced after this meeting.