Collaborative Project to meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges



The purpose of this application type is to develop new knowledge and generate research competence needed by society or the business sector to address important societal challenges. The projects are to encourage and support collaboration between research organisations and stakeholders from outside the research sector that represent societal and/or industry needs for knowledge and research competence.

Important dates

September 2020

All templates will be available for download

16 Dec 2020

Date call is made active

17 Feb 2021

Application submission deadline

June 2021

The projects awarded funding will be announced

01 Jul 2021

Earliest permitted project start

01 Dec 2021

Latest permitted project start. Projects not started by this date may lose the funding they were awarded.

30 Nov 2025

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates

About the call for proposals

Funding in the amount of NOK 1.1 billion is available for Collaborative Projects to meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges. The call encompasses several thematic areas, which will be described separately below, and we are accepting applications for both basic and applied research activities. Applicants are to select the thematic area their project targets in the application form.

Applicants are advised to consult the Guide for Applicants for answers to various questions related to this application type. Please pay particular attention to the description of what a partner is and which roles we operate with in the application type Collaborative and Knowledge-building Project.

Please note that you may not be the project manager for more than one application submitted for either a Collaborative Project to meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges (this call), a Knowledge-building Project for Industry, a Researcher Project for Scientific Renewal, a Researcher Project for Young Research Talents or a Three-year Researcher Project with International Mobility with an application deadline of either 10 or 17 February 2021.

Webinar for applicants - see recording and download the presentation from the webinar here, the webinar is in Norwegian, but the presentation is also available in English (the link opens in a new window).

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

Who is eligible to apply?

The call is open to approved research organisations in binding cooperation with relevant actors from public sector entities, non-governmental organisations, trade and industry and/or other private organisations.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner
The research organisation listed as the Project Owner in the grant application must have approved the submission of the grant application to the Research Council. The application must be aligned with the Project Owner’s strategies.

Requirements relating to the project manager
You must have an approved doctorate or equivalent qualifications before the date of the application submission deadline. If you do not have an approved doctorate but are qualified at associate professorship level or have current or previous employment in a position as forsker 1 (research professor), forsker 2 (senior researcher) or seniorforsker (senior researcher), you are also qualified. The roles of project manager and project administrator in the project may not be filled by the same individual.

You can only be the project manager for one application submitted for either a Collaborative Project to meet Societal and Industry-related Challenges (this call), a Knowledge-building Project for Industry, a Researcher Project for Scientific Renewal, a Researcher Project for Young Research Talents or a Three-year Researcher Project with International Mobility with an application deadline of either 10 or 17 February 2021.

Requirements relating to partners

  • Projects are to be carried out by one or more research organisations in binding cooperation with relevant actors from public sector entities, non-governmental organisations, Norwegian trade and industry and/or other private organisations.
  • The grant application must describe how the project incorporates the strategic objectives 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 Norwegian 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.
  • A minimum requirement has been specified under each thematic area for how much of the project budget the partners’ costs combined must comprise. This share must be based on the project partners’ actual costs in the project (hourly fees and other costs – see how to calculate hourly rates here). Cash contributions are not expected, and such contributions cannot compensate for the partners’ required share of the project costs. Only non-research organisations are included in this requirement for participation.
  • Companies from outside Norway may participate as partners in the project. Any costs to be incurred by collaborating companies from outside Norway that are not research organisations are not to be entered into the budget, and will not be included as part of the minimum requirement for partners’ participation. See the guide for more information about partners from outside Norway.
  • The extent to which project partners who are not approved research organisations, are eligible to receive support from the Research Council to cover their project costs, or whether they must cover their own costs, will be specified under each thematic area. A project participant may not be assigned more than one role in the project. This means that a sub-contractor for the project may not have the role of Project Owner or partner in one and the same project.

What can you seek funding for?

You will find detailed and important information about what to enter in the project budget on our website.

The minimum amount of funding that may be sought is NOK 4 million.

Applicants may seek funding to cover actual costs that are necessary for the execution of the project. Costs to be incurred by project partners are to be entered into the budget along the same lines as costs to the Project Owner. When the Research Council’s funding is used to cover project partners’ costs, the state aid rules set out certain limitations relating to the undertakings involved.

Any costs to be incurred by collaborating companies from outside Norway that are research organisations are to be entered in the budget and can be covered by the Research Council's grant. Any costs to be incurred by other actors from outside Norway are not to be entered in the budget. Funding will not be granted to cover these costs. Non-Norwegian actors’ role in the project and the costs they are to incur must be clearly described in the project description (section 3.2). See also the Guide for Applicants for more information about project participation by non-Norwegian partners.

If the project includes doctoral and post-doctoral research fellowships and there are concrete plans in place for research stays abroad for the fellowship-holders, funding for these stays may be included in the grant application. The Research Council has also issued a separate call for funding for Research Stays Abroad for Doctoral and Post-doctoral Fellows. The project manager may seek funding under that call if plans for research stays abroad for research fellows affiliated with the project emerge later in the project period. Read more about this scheme here.

Conditions for funding 
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.

The project is to be implemented by means of effective collaboration, as defined in the state aid rules

This call for proposals constitutes a funding scheme that is notified to the EFTA Surveillance Authority.

When an undertaking receives support to cover a portion of its project costs 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 practiced in compliance with the EEA state aid rules. 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.

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.  

The state aid rules set clear limitations on the aid intensity that may be granted to these companies, depending on enterprise size and the type of activity to be carried out. Projects recommended for funding will be required to provide additional information about the project and the project partners to ensure that the project is carried out in compliance with state aid rules. 

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 agreement is to regulate the reciprocal rights and obligations of the Project Owner and partners in the project and ensure the integrity and independence of the research. It is also to ensure that no participating undertaking receives indirect state aid from a research organisation serving as 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

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 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. 

Scientific articles and research data

The Project Owner (company/research organisation) is responsible for selecting which 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.

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

Requirements relating to medical and health-related studies involving human participants

Relevant thematic areas for this call

The topics encompassed under this call are grouped into the thematic areas below. Special requirements and guidelines are detailed under each topic and will be emphasised when assessing the applications. This information will be updated over the course of October and November 2020.

Cross-cutting topics

Land under pressureSustainable food systemsCircular economy

Democracy, administration and renewal

Innovation in the municipal sectorField of planning research

Energy, transport and low emissions

Transport and mobilityCO2 capture and storage

Global development and international relations

Taxation and illicit financial flows


Maritime sectorAquacultureMarine sectorSeafood market


eHealthEffective preventive public health measures

Land-based food, the environment and bioresources

Agriculture and the food industry (Agriculture and Food Industry Research Funds)

Enabling technologies


Education and competence

Research in teacher education

Welfare, culture and society

Welfare and labour research

Practical information

Requirements for this application type

Applications 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 application and all attachments must be submitted in English. 
  • All mandatory attachments must be included.
  • The project description must use the designated template which is available for download at the end of the call. 
  • Requirements relating to the project manager and Project Owner (research organisation) must be satisfied.
  • Requirements relating to the partners must be satisfied.
  • The project must start between 1 July 2021 and 1 December 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 all partners listed. The letter must explain why the research project is important, and describe the planned contributions to the project.
  • For projects encompassing doctoral degrees, you must attach a letter of confirmation from the degree-conferring university/institution to the grant application. This does not apply if the Project Owner is the degree-conferring university/institution.

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 the mandatory attachments specified above, as well as any links to websites in the grant application, will not be included in the application review process.

Assessment criteria

Grant applications will be assessed in relation to the following criteria:


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.


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.


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.

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. Applications that do not meet the formal requirements will be rejected.

The applications will then be distributed to referee panels comprised of impartial external specialists with expertise in the relevant thematic areas and disciplines. For each individual application, the Research Council will check that the referee panel is impartial and has sufficient expertise to assess the research topic in question. 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 has completed its assessment, 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, which will then form the basis for the portfolio boards’ funding decisions.

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

  • The applications’ assigned marks based on the assessments.
  • The distribution of proposed and ongoing projects in relation to priorities set out for the specific topic.
  • The relative volume and quality of grant applications under the other calls in 2021 that are relevant to the topic.
  • Any changes in the financial or scientific framework set by the ministries.
  • When the applications are otherwise considered to be on a par, priority will be given to projects led by women project managers.

The meetings of the portfolio boards will be held in mid-June. The final funding decision will be announced after these meetings.