Student Entrepreneurship

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 revised, we will provide notification here.

Purpose

The STUD-ENT scheme is the Research Council’s national competitive arena in which students, in cooperation with institutions of higher education, may seek financial support for student-driven business ideas.

The purpose of the scheme is to increase entrepreneurship among students by promoting business ideas that have emerged from promising research results or are related to knowledge the students have obtained through their studies. The STUD-ENT scheme is intended for individuals who are at the start of their careers and who wish to test their entrepreneurship skills.

This call is open to project proposals within all thematic areas.

Important dates

01 Jan 2020

Date call is made active

12 Feb 2020

Application submission deadline

13 Feb 2020

Review of applications vis-à-vis the formal requirements

28 Feb 2020

Referee review (Phase 1)

13 Mar 2020

Notification of which projects have been selected for presentation to the panel (Phase 2)

24 Mar 2020

Project presentations, day 1 (Phase 2)

25 Mar 2020

Project presentations, day 2 (Phase 2)

15 Apr 2020

Review and decision regarding funding allocations will be taken in April

01 May 2020

Earliest permitted project start

01 Oct 2020

Latest permitted project start

30 Sep 2021

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates

About the call for proposals

Project proposals must be able to point to student-driven business ideas that demonstrate clear commercial potential and entail positive benefits for society. The financial support provided is to be used to reduce technology- or concept-related risk to clarify uncertainties that are preventing the project from moving forward in the commercialisation process.

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 22 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.

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

Who is eligible to apply?

Students at the Master’s degree level may apply in cooperation with a Norwegian university or university college. For more information, see “Who can participate in the project?” below.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the project manager

The project manager must be a recent Master’s degree graduate at the time of project start-up, i.e. must:

  1. submit his/her Master’s thesis by at the latest six months after the application submission deadline, or
  2. have received his/her Master’s diploma no more than 12 months prior to the grant application submission deadline.

Requirements relating to the core team

  • The core team is to consist of students, i.e. the project manager and other students at Bachelor’s or Master’s degree levels and/or recent Master’s degree graduates who have received their Master’s diplomas no more than 12 months prior to the grant application submission deadline.
  • The core team must together own a minimum 80 per cent of the shares in the established/planned company, and the distribution/planned distribution of shares must reflect each partner’s participation in the project, thereby ensuring that all team members have maximum incentive to succeed.

Requirements relating to the Project Owner

  • A division or department at the university or university college that is supporting the project must be listed as the “Project Owner” in the grant application, and an individual who is authorised to approve the project must be listed as the “Project administrator”.
  • The university/university college must provide the project with at least one academic mentor.

If the project is granted funding, the role of Project Owner will be transferred to the limited company that the students establish. Applicants are not required to have established a limited company when they submit their grant application, but the company must be established if funding is awarded. The original Project Owner (division or department at the university/university college) is then to be listed as a partner.

Requirements relating to mentors

  • The project must include at least one academic mentor from the university or university college supporting the project.
  • The project must include at least one commercial mentor from the business sector, and this must be an individual who provides relevant experience from the sector or market or offers input on crucial project tasks.

It is possible to involve multiple commercial and academic mentors in the project, and academic mentors may come from various universities/university colleges that can provide supplementary knowledge to the project. The core team as a whole, with its mentor support, must have the interdisciplinary and relevant expertise needed to perform the project.

What can you seek funding for?

STUD-ENT funding is to be used to realise the business idea or to carry out crucial activities that will mitigate technology- and concept-related risks by providing the answers to uncertainties that are preventing the project from moving forward in the commercialisation process.

Typical project activities include developing, clarifying and demonstrating concepts, verifying technology in a laboratory, conducting user testing, clarifying areas of application and prioritising these based on needs for technological development and market potential.

Project costs that may be covered include technical equipment, travel, advisory services, technical assistance and payroll. 

Approved project costs must be included in a budget in accordance with the general requirements and guidelines that apply for projects funded by the Research Council.

Scope of funding
Funding awarded for the project will be disbursed to the limited company. The approved project costs are to be entered in the limited company’s project accounts. Procurement of services from, for example, the educational institution or another company will be invoiced costs to the limited company and can thus be covered by the Research Council’s funding. You may apply for funding to cover up to 100 per cent of the budgeted project costs over a period of 12 months. Projects may seek a maximum of NOK 1 million.

Conditions for funding
The latest permitted project start date for projects is 1 October 2020. Projects approved for funding that have not started by this date may lose their allocation.

Support for start-ups
Funding will be disbursed to the limited company that the students have established or will establish if granted funding.

Support for start-ups constitutes state aid according to Article 61 of the EEA Agreement. Support is granted in accordance with Article 22 of the General Block Exemption Regulation: Aid for start-ups.

For limited companies that have been established prior to submission of an application, Article 22 states that support can only be awarded to enterprises that:

  • are not listed on the stock exchange;
  • have not been registered in the Register of Business Enterprises for five years or more.
  • have not taken over the activity of another enterprise;
  • have not issued dividends;
  • are not the result of a merger.

In addition to the requirements under Article 22, the Research Council stipulates the following requirements:

  • The company must not have more than 10 employees.
  • The balance sheet of the enterprise is not to exceed NOK 2 million.

When assessing an enterprise’s size, consideration must also be given to the number of employees and the turnover/balance sheet for companies with a holding of 25 per cent or more of the capital or voting rights, or in which the enterprise itself has a holding of 25 per cent or more of the capital or voting rights. See the definition of the concept, “small and medium-sized enterprises” or “SMEs”, in the General Block Exemption Regulation: Aid for start-ups, Annex I, as well as in the EU Commission’s User guide to the SME definition.

Archiving of research data

The Project Owner (company/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.

Additional information

Requirements relating to the business idea

  • The business idea must be based on research results or knowledge the students have obtained through their studies. The idea must be innovative and seek to achieve a competitive advantage.
  • The students must have obtained the appropriate rights to the concept, technology or research on which the business idea is based that will be needed to implement the project.
  • Project proposals must demonstrate that the business idea has been adequately developed and that preliminary market surveys indicate support for the business idea.
  • The business idea does not have to be linked to a specific branch of industry, and STUD-ENT funding may be sought by students in all subject fields.
  • There are no requirements relating to market maturity, so the STUD-ENT scheme is just as relevant for, e.g., medical technology projects, which often have a long path to market, as for ICT projects, which in many cases have a shorter path to market.

Requirements relating to projects for which STUD-ENT scheme funding has previously been sought

If an application is rejected, the project manager may reapply one more time, provided that the formal requirements stipulated in this call for proposals have been met. In such cases, applicants are required to state clearly at the beginning of the project description what has changed in the interim since the previous application. The programme administration may reject applications that do not demonstrate sufficient change.

It is not possible to reapply for STUD-ENT funding if the project has previously received funding under the scheme, or if the project manager has previously been awarded STUD-ENT funding.

Termination of contract

It is important for projects awarded funding to meet the approved milestones by the stipulated deadlines. This will be given particular weight when assessing whether to continue providing support or to terminate the contract. 

Other examples of key issues that can lead to amendment or termination of a contract include the following:

  • The conditions set out in the call and the approved prerequisites for funding are not met.
  • The project is not progressing according to plan.
  • Key partners are no longer involved in the project.
  • The project no longer has access to critical and necessary resources or equipment.
  • New results or new information become available that substantially diminish the commercial potential of the project.
  • The Project Owner no longer owns, or has at its disposal, the intellectual property rights, which substantially diminishes the commercial potential of the project.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

This call is open for project proposals in all areas, but we ask applicants to assign one or more of the branches of trade and industry listed below to their applications:

Trade and industry

Requirements for this application type

A complete application consists of the online application form and the mandatory attachments submitted by the project manager via My RCN Web.

Also see our: Guidelines for how to complete the eSøknad application form (STUD-ENT 2020).pdf

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 uploaded 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.
  • The application must have been approved by the Project Owner (division or department at the university or university college supporting the project).
  • All attachments must be uploaded in PDF format.

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

  • A project description of maximum 10 pages using the designated template. This is to be uploaded as attachment type “Project description”.
  • CVs for the project manager and other key project participants, using the designated template. This is to be uploaded as attachment type “Curriculum vitae (CV)”.
  • Declaration from the shareholders using the designated template. This is to be uploaded as attachment type “Other items”.
  • Declaration of rights using the designated template. This is to be uploaded as attachment type “Other items”.
  • Project approval from the university/university college using the designated template or a template used by the educational institution. This is to be uploaded as attachment type “Other items”.
  • Additional information about the project, using the designated template or a template used by the educational institution. This is to be uploaded as attachment type “Other items”.
  • A one-page project summary using the designated template. This is to be uploaded as attachment type “Other items”.

Optional attachments

  • Letters of intent from any customers, industrial partners or other project partners. This is to be uploaded as attachment type “Other items”.

Links to websites and documents, as well as other attachments than those specified above, will not be included in the application review process. Please make sure to use the designated template for attachments where indicated. 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

Project proposals will be assessed by a referee panel in relation to three criteria:

Excellence

This criterion gives an indication of whether the project is based on promising R&D results that are mature enough to contribute to significant improvements relative to the state-of-the-art.

This criterion will be assessed in relation to the following points:

i. Research results:
• To what extent is the research base underlying the project adequately described?

ii. Degree of innovation:
• To what extent will the product/process/service contribute to significant improvements over existing solutions (state-of-the-art) within the same area?

Impact

This criterion gives an indication of the project’s long-term potential for value creation as well as the likelihood of its successful realisation.

This criterion will be assessed in relation to the following points:

i. Market insight and areas of application:
• To what extent are potential branches of industry/markets targeted by the project quantified and accounted for?

ii. Strategy for realisation:
• To what extent does the application outline a realistic long-term strategy for realising the innovation, including quantification of anticipated revenues, investment needs, human resources needs, logistics distribution, etc.?

iii. Conditions and rights:
• To what extent does the application explain the conditions that must be in place for successful commercialisation?

iv. Benefit to society and sustainability:
• To what extent are the relevant societal challenges and the potential impacts of the project accounted for?

Implementation

This criterion assesses the concrete results and risk relief that this project will achieve – which will increase the likelihood of triggering the next phase in the commercialisation process.

This criterion will be assessed in relation to the following points:

i. Project plan:
• To what extent does the application outline a realistic implementation plan, including milestones, deliveries and methods, and to what extent does the application adequately and convincingly describe what will be triggered by a completed project?

ii. Management, team and expertise:
• To what extent is the project considered to have access to the necessary resources and expertise, and to what extent does the project have a plan for involving external actors (mentors, customers, partners, investors, stakeholders, relevant social actors etc.)?

iii. Budget:
• To what extent is the budget and the financing realistic, cost-effective, and clearly rooted in the project's plans and resource needs?

Assuming all factors relating to scientific merit and relevance are essentially equal, priority will be given to projects led by women project managers. The STUD-ENT scheme seeks to achieve full gender balance, with 50 per cent participation of women in projects, and 50 per cent women project managers.

Administrative procedures

  • Preliminary administrative review: 12 February 2020
    Review of grant proposals vis-à-vis the formal application requirements. Grant applications that do not satisfy the formal requirements or that fall outside the target group outlined in the call will be rejected.
  • Referee review (Phase 1) – remote assessment: 28 February 2020
    Applications that have satisfied the formal requirements are assessed by referees based on the assessment criteria. The individual referees each assign marks to each application and provide written feedback.
  • Ranking of applications: 13 March 2020
    Applicants will be notified whether their projects are advancing to the next phase of the assessment process.
  • Referee review (Phase 2): 24-25 March 2020
    Applicants with the projects ranked the highest after phase 1 will present their projects to a referee panel. The panel will discuss the projects and assign a final mark for each of the assessment criteria.
  • Decision regarding funding awards: April 2020
    Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the funding decision.