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Last updates

17 Aug 2021

We would like to emphasise that projects that receive funding after the next period of funding decision can start no earlier than 1 January 2022, and no later than 30 April 2022.

02 Jul 2021
There has been much interest in this call for proposals. So far, we have funded NOK 650 million and we have a further NOK 700 million at our disposal for the funding of new projects in 2021.
 
Due to these budgetary constraints, we will for the remainder of 2021 conduct one more round of project assesments and grant funding (and not two rounds as previously planned). We will process and assess all grant applications submitted or before 20 September 2021. Successful applicants will be informed before end of December 2021.
 
Please see our webpages for upcoming calls for proposals for projects starting in 2022.
 

Purpose

An Innovation Project for the Industrial Sector is a funding instrument that provides grants to business-led innovation projects that make extensive use of research and development (R&D) activities. The Innovation Project is to lead to renewal and sustainable value creation for the project’s business partners. Funding should also generate socioeconomic benefits by making new knowledge and solutions available.

Important dates

JANUARY–JUNE 2021

Period 1

Applications submitted from 4 January to mid-April, with a funding decision between mid-May and the end of June.

APRIL–DECEMBER 2021

Period 2

Applications submitted between mid-April and mid-September, with a funding decision between the end of October and mid-December. 

Important dates

About the call for proposals

This funding is intended to encourage companies to invest in R&D that can contribute to innovation and sustainable value creation. This call for proposals encompasses the full breadth of the Norwegian business sector, described in more detail under the call's thematic areas.

Project grant applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Accepted applications will in general be processed at regular intervals. Read more under the section ‘Expected funding decision’ (under ‘Processing procedures’ towards the end of the call).

This call for proposals constitutes a funding scheme that is notified to the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA), and must be practised in compliance with the EEA state aid rules. Read more about state aid under the section ‘Conditions for funding’.

See video from our application webinar (opens in new window, the webinar was held in Norwegian). 

The Norwegian-language call for proposals is the legally binding version. We will provide three months’ notification of any significant revisions to the call.

Who is eligible to apply?

This call is open to companies that have been issued an enterprise number under the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises and that carry out economic activity in Norway. Public enterprises that carry out activities of an industrial or business nature may also serve as the formal applicant.

Sole proprietorships and research organisations are not eligible to serve as a formal applicant.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner

  • The Project Owner must be a company or public enterprise that carries out activities of an industrial or business nature and has been issued an enterprise number under the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises.
  • The Project Owner must secure funding for the project (over and above the Research Council’s funding) and make provisions for utilisation of the project results.

Requirements relating to collaboration and roles in the project

  • The Project Owner must carry out the project together with at least one partner or one R&D provider. These must be listed in the section ‘Project partners and R&D providers’ in the application form. Read more about project partners and R&D providers here.
  • Partners must fulfil the criteria listed under the section ‘Who is eligible to apply?’ to be able to receive funding. Partners must be involved in what is known as an effective collaboration with the Project Owner, which entails sharing both the risk associated with the project and the results it generates. Partners whose project costs are covered in part by Research Council funding are recipients of state aid.
  • Norwegian and foreign expert environments and research organisations may participate in the project as R&D providers with responsibility for performing R&D work on assignment for the business partners. R&D providers may not contribute to project funding and in general have no rights to the project results. They deliver on assignment and should receive the market price for their work. If they are nonetheless to maintain the rights to results, this should be reflected in the assignment’s pricing.
  • Where a PhD candidate contributes to the R&D provider’s work in an Innovation Project for the Industrial Sector, restrictions cannot be placed on the publication of the candidate’s doctoral work. An exception to this rule can be made if the parties agree up front on a delay of the publication.
  • The work an R&D provider delivers is procured through an assignment from the project owner and/or other partners, and such work, when assigned to universities and university colleges, will be classified as contract R&D and renumerated thereafter. This means that R&D providers shall be reimbursed for all relevant costs associated with the doctoral work.
  • Other international and public sector bodies may participate in the project, but will not receive Research Council funding.
  • The Project Owner or one of the partners may not be in an interdependent relationship with any of the R&D providers in the project, e.g. where both entities are part of the same corporation. The ‘arm’s length principle’ must be observed when engaging R&D providers.
  • The Project Owner and partners participating in the project that are interdependent will be considered as one entity and as a single recipient of funding in accordance with the state aid rules.
  • The application with relevant partners and R&D providers at the time the application is submitted forms the basis for grant allocation, and is a stringent condition for funding. Changes made to the composition of a project before a contract has been entered into may result in the Research Council withdrawing its offer of funding.

Typical characteristics of a funded project

  • The project builds on a unique and innovative idea by one or more of the partner companies in the project. The resulting innovation from the project may be in the form of a new product, service or production process, or new means of delivering products and/or services. An innovation in this context can also mean significantly improving or adding new features to existing products, services or processes.
  • The project demonstrates a likely and significant positive impact for one or more key sustainability challenges, such as emission reductions, climate adaptation, resource efficiency, well-functioning ecosystems or social/societal improvements. We expect the project to have a positive impact without causing harm to other areas.
  • The project's partnership constellation forms the basis for long-term collaboration, development and dissemination of knowledge and effective mutual utilisation of the results.
  • The companies collaborating in the project typically have a need for new knowledge or new technology in order to deliver the intended innovation. The knowledge or technology is to be developed through R&D activities using recognised methodology. The project’s R&D activities must satisfy the definition of either ‘industrial research’ or ‘experimental development’ as set out in the state aid rules (see ‘Important definitions for Article 25’ on our info page on state aid).
  • The Project Owner and partners have access to the R&D expertise necessary to implement the project.
  • The scope and risk profile of the project is such that the companies would not be able to carry out the project without Research Council funding. This means that funding from the Research Council is a critical incentive for implementing the R&D activities. Project funding from the Research Council may also be instrumental in helping companies to obtain follow-up investments from private risk capital investors that can be used to further develop and utilise the results.
  • The project incorporates clear objectives and a concrete plan for its R&D activities and for utilising the results. Results and knowledge generated from the project that are not bound by protection or confidentiality agreements are disseminated via relevant publications and other relevant dissemination channels.

What can you seek funding for?

Parts of the business partners’ costs pertaining to R&D activities under the project qualify for funding. Article 25 of the state aid rules describes which activities qualify for funding and which costs associated with these activities can be fully or partially funded. Funding can be provided for both direct and indirect project costs to the extent they can be categorised as costs pertaining to industrial research or experimental development. This applies to both costs associated with R&D activities performed by the project partners and for purchase of R&D services.

See more detailed information about which project costs qualify for funding here.

The Research Council does not provide funding for operational business activities including activities associated with the commercial exploitation of the R&D results, such as protection of intellectual property rights, market surveys and marketing, and testing and completion of new products or services. Nor is funding provided for costs that will not be recorded in the Project Owner or partners’ official accounts, such as own unpaid work effort. Such costs are therefore not to be included in the project budget.

Scope of funding

The level of support (aid intensity) available for a company’s project costs will depend on the size of the company and the type of R&D activities, as well as the extent to which the funding increases R&D investments among the project partners. Effective collaboration does not qualify for additional funding. The aid intensity may therefore vary from 25 per cent to 70 per cent, cf. the state aid rules (see ‘Article 25: Aid for research and development projects’ in the link, and the table below).

Type of company/type of activity

Industrial research

Experimental development

Small business

70 %

45 %

Medium-sized business

60 %

35 %

Large business

50 %

25 %

For applications awarded funding, the final grant amount will be determined in conjunction with contract negotiations. Applicants will receive an offer of funding on condition that a revised application is prepared in accordance with the conditional decision, cf. the points below.

Information about how much you can apply for and the length of the project period is available under the respective thematic areas.

Conditions for funding

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

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). The general terms and conditions in Chapter I of the Regulation must also be satisfied. You can read a consolidated version of the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid with amendments from July 2020 here. 

This funding scheme must 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 the same reason.

State aid may not be given to an undertaking that is subject to an outstanding recovery order following a formal decision by the EFTA Surveillance Authority or the European Commission stating that state aid received is illegal and incompatible with the internal market. Nor can the Research Council award state aid to an enterprise that is defined as an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ under the state aid rules, unless the undertaking was not in difficulty as of 31 December 2019, but became an undertaking in difficulty in the period 1 January 2020 – 30 June 2021. It may in such case receive funding.

The call for proposals has been approved as an aid scheme by The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) with the reference: GBER 8/2021/R&D&I.
  • If the project application is awarded funding, the Project Owner must revise the project and grant application in accordance with the conditions set out by the ruling body in the Research Council. The revised application must incorporate updated and supplementary information about the project and participating partners, including documentation of implementation capacity and own funding.
  • The participating companies must also submit a declaration confirming that they are qualified to receive state aid.
  • Other public funding allocated to the project, or to activities under the project, will affect the amount of funding that the Research Council can provide.
  • Allocated state aid of EUR 500,000 or more will be listed in a public registry.
  • When the Project Owner is informed that the project will be allocated funding, they must inform any partners listed on the stock exchange or that have applied to be admitted to trading to give them an opportunity to assess whether the allocation of funding is sensitive inside information.
  • For awarded projects, the project must commence no later than four months after the awarded grant was announced. Projects approved for funding that have not started by this date may lose their grant.
  • Projects awarded funding under this call, are among other things, required to submit accounting reports annually documenting incurred project costs and their financing.

The Research Council’s requirements relating to allocation are set out in the General Terms and Conditions for R&D Projects.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

The topics listed under the thematic areas below describe the objectives, emphases and priorities for the allocation of funds. See the respective portfolio plans and work programmes referred to under ‘Relevant plans’ for more information about the priorities pertaining to each topic.

We encourage applicants to read them so that they understand the basis for our qualitative assessment and how we prioritise applications. The Research Council strives to achieve a balanced project portfolio of supported projects within the specified topics.

Please remember to select the thematic area and topic in the grant application form. The chosen thematic area and topic are merely for guidance to help the Research Council plan the application review process, and applications may be transferred to other thematic areas and topics. 

The monetary amounts listed under each topic indicate how much funding is available. If all funding available to the respective topics has been allocated at a given time, the Research Council will post an official notification of this at the top of the call for proposals. Applications received for topics that do not have available funding will be rejected. These may in such case be re-submitted when any new funding becomes available.

Please contact the advisers affiliated to the respective topics for more information about the topic and the amount of project funding available.

Oceans

Maritime sectorFisheriesMarine sectorCross-cutting Ocean TechnologyAquaculture

Energy, transport and low emissions

CO2 capture and storageEnvironment-friendly energy

Petroleum

Industry and services

Building, construction and miningFinance and bankingHealth industryICT industryProcessing industryTravel and tourismMedia and cultureRetail/wholesaleManufacturing industryOther services

Enabling technologies

Nanotechnology/advanced materialsTechnological convergence

Land-based food, the environment and bioresources

Practical information

Requirements for this application type

Applications must be created and submitted via My RCN Web. The application and all attachments must be written in Norwegian or English. This call has an open-ended deadline. A unique grant application may only be submitted once (whereas calls with a fixed deadline may be submitted and resubmitted multiple times up to the submission deadline).

  • All attachments to the online grant application form must be uploaded in PDF format. The templates for attachments can be found at the end of the call for proposals.
  • The project description must be written using the designated template, and all sections must be completed.
  • If the applicant has submitted the same or similar grant proposals to other Research Council calls for proposals, this must be stated in the grant application.
  • All project costs must be budgeted in accordance with the Research Council's guidelines.

Mandatory attachments 

  • Project description of up to 10 pages in length using the designated template. Please note that there is a new template for 2021.
  • Information about partners for the company submitting the grant application (Project Owner) and each of the participating companies (company partners) using the designated template. Please note that there is a new template for 2021.
  • CVs for the project manager and other key project participants (e.g. individuals responsible for the project’s work packages) using the designated templates. A maximum of five CVs can be attached per application.

All requirements set out in the call must be met. Applications that do not meet the formal requirements, or requirements relating to the Project Owner, collaboration and roles in the project, will not be considered. The application must comply with the limits given under each thematic area regarding funding scale and project duration.

We will not assess documents and websites linked to in the application, or other attachments than those specified above. There is no technical validation of the content of uploaded attachments, so please ensure that you upload the correct file for the selected type of attachment. 

Assessment criteria

Grant applications 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 Project Owner and the companies that are 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 Project Owner and the company partners, and lay a foundation for other positive impacts for society?

• To what extent will the project entail a potential for sustainable value creation in Norway with significant economic benefits for the Project Owner and the companies that are partners?
• To what extent can the project have positive external impacts, such as:
– helping to disseminate knowledge through networks and publications;
– producing results that can be used by other industries, the public sector or in society at large;
– leading to an innovation that can address UN Sustainable Development Goals or solve other important societal challenges.
• To what extent are the potential impacts of the project clearly formulated and highly plausible?

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?

• 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 Project Owner and the companies that are 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?
• To what extent is the plan for implementation of R&D results and realisation of benefits relevant and appropriate, for instance with regard to:
– IPR issues,
– 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.

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 do the companies in the project meet the requirements and expectations set out in the call for proposals with regard to the Project Owner and partners?
• To what extent have the conditions set out in the call for proposals with regard to collaboration and specification of roles been met?
• To what extent can support from the Research Council be expected to trigger increased R&D investment among the Project Owner and the companies that are partners in the project and provide added value to the project beyond the financial support?
• To what extent is the project in keeping with thematic or budgetary guidelines in the call for proposals, where this is relevant in light of the project’s content?

Administrative procedures

The application and all mandatory attachments will be made available in a digital portal for referees who will perform an assessment of the criteria ‘Excellence’, ‘Impact’ and ‘Implementation’. Each application will normally be assessed by a referee panel comprising three experts. The referee panel will submit a consensus-based assessment for each of the three criteria.

If the mark awarded by the referee panel for all of the criteria is 4 or higher on a scale where 7 is the highest mark, the application will also be assessed by the Research Council’s case officers on the basis of the criterion ‘Relevance to the call for proposals’. The assessment and marks for all four criteria will be consolidated into a single, overall mark that indicates the merit of the application.

The Research Council administration will then present the project proposals and their respective marks to the Research Council’s portfolio boards for the final funding decision. The portfolio boards will attach importance to achieving a balanced project portfolio in the areas under their purview and in relation to ongoing projects and applications submitted under other calls for proposals. These assessments will be based on the budgetary framework, the text of the call for proposals and documents referred to in the description of the respective thematic areas. An overview of all ongoing projects is available at prosjektbanken.no.

Each portfolio board will also act in accordance with the Research Council’s general policy for allocation of funding, including policy on:

  • prioritisation of projects based on the impact on sustainability and the environment, assuming all other quality-related factors are essentially equal;
  • prioritisation of projects led by women project managers, assuming all other quality-related factors are essentially equal;
  • research ethics perspectives.

Notification of funding decisions

Project grant applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis, and you may submit your application when it is complete. Notification of the funding decision will depend among other things on the number of applications received for the various topics and our internal application processing procedures. The Research Council will in principle have three periods in 2021 during which applications will be received and processed.

  • Period 1: Applications submitted from 4 January to mid-April, with a funding decision between mid-May and the end of June.
  • Period 2: Applications submitted between mid-April and mid-September, with a funding decision between the end of October and mid-December.

In certain topics, we will only process applications during period 2. This is stated under the respective topics it applies to. It is possible that certain topics will be awarded all available funding in period 1 or 2. The Research Council will in such case post an official notification of this at the top of the call for proposals. Applications received for topics that do not have available funding will be rejected. These can in such case be re-submitted when any new funding becomes available. 

Projects may not start until notification of funding has been given, and the latest date for start-up is four months after such notification.

Please note that the periods listed above are not absolute deadlines for submitting an application. This means that an application submitted by Thursday 15 April will fall under period 1 and will, in principle, be processed during this period. The applicant is then likely to receive notification of the funding decision by the end of June at the latest. An application submitted a few days after 15 April may also fall under period 1 and thus be processed during this period, but the Research Council cannot guarantee this to be the case. If an application is submitted during the early part of a given period, the applicant may be notified of the funding decision sooner.

Please contact the advisers affiliated to the respective topics for more information about submitting and processing applications during the different periods, and the amount available for project funding.

If an application is re-submitted without significant changes to the project and grant application, it will retain the previous scientific assessment by the portfolio board. On the other hand, if a previously unsuccessful grant application is re-submitted but with significant changes to the project and the grant application itself, this application may be assessed again and by a panel comprised wholly or in part by the same referees who assessed the previous version of the application. Applicants who are re-submitting a previously unsuccessful grant application must provide an account of the relevant changes and their significance to the project in part 4, item 15 of the project description.

Create application

Applications for Innovation Project for the Industrial Sector 2021 should be created on My RCN Web. Application templates should be filled and uploaded in the application.

Create application