Student Entrepreneurship

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Purpose

The purpose of the STUD-ENT scheme is to improve the entrepreneurship culture in the university and university college sector by encouraging students to use the knowledge they have attained from their studies to generate new successful businesses.

The scheme targets young people at the start of their career who want to test their entrepreneurship skills.

Important dates

03 Feb 2021

Date call is made active

17 Mar 2021

Application submission deadline

18 Jun 2021

Earliest permitted project start

04 Nov 2021

Latest permitted project start

04 Feb 2022

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates

About the call for proposals

STUD-ENT is aimed at students with business ideas they have developed through their studies. The students' intention is to start a business and with this as a starting point, they contact the educational institution, develop a project team and write the application.

The business idea belongs to the students. The educational institution supports the project, and the cooperation is intended to strengthen the entrepreneurship culture at the educational institution.

Project applications must be able to demonstrate:

  • student-driven business ideas that are related to knowledge the students have attained from their studies
  • business ideas that are innovative, sufficiently well thought through, and that the initial investigations underpin the idea, the competitive advantage, a clear commercial potential and positive benefits to society
  • strong connection between the students and a relevant research group at a Norwegian educational institution, where the cooperation contributes to reducing technology risk or other risks in the project
  • projects in a pre-commercial phase
  • that the students have secured necessary rights to the concept, technology or research on which the business idea is based.

The call is open for applications in all thematic areas, and students from all programmes may apply.

The funding must be used to reduce the risk relating to technology, to the market or the concept and to clarify any uncertainties that may prevent the business idea to move on in the commercialisation process.

The call is for proposals for new projects and project managers who have not previously been awarded funding under the STUD-ENT scheme. If the project has previously applied for funding for a STUD-ENT project and the application was rejected, a new application can be submitted if it meets the requirements set out in the call.

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

You can find more practical information, frequently asked questions and examples of projects etc. on our STUD-ENT information page and in this PowerPoint presentation.

State aid
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 22 of the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid (Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014).

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 this 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.

The call for proposals has been approved as an aid scheme by The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) with the reference: GBER xx/SME (**riktig referanse kommer snart).

Who is eligible to apply?

Students at master's or PhD degree levels or in programmes of professional study are eligible to apply in cooperation with a Norwegian university or university college.  For more information about requirements relating to project participants, see the section ‘Who can participate in the project?’.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to project managers
The project manager must be, or have been, affiliated to a master’s degree programme, a six-year programme of professional study or a PhD programme. The project manager can be a student or have completed his/her degree (received a diploma) no earlier than 12 months before the application deadline, specifically 17 March 2020.

The following applies to students at the following levels:

  • master’s degree level: your master’s thesis must be submitted before project start-up
  • programme of professional study: you must have completed the programme at least four years before project start-up
  • PhD level: you must submit confirmation from the degree-conferring institution that the STUD-ENT project can be completed in parallel with the PhD programme

Core team requirements

  • The application must describe a core team comprising students, i.e. a project manager and other students at bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD level or in a programme of professional study, including newly graduated master’s degree or PhD students or students from programmes of professional study who have received their diploma no earlier than 12 months before the application deadline, specifically 17 March 2020.
  • The core team must own at least 80% of the shares in the established/planned limited liability company, and the shares must be distributed/planned for distribution in a manner that reflects the team members’ respective efforts and to ensure correct incentives for the core team.

Requirements relating to the Project Owner

  • A department at a Norwegian university or university college must support the project. The university or university college must be designated as the Project Owner in the application
  • A person with the authority to approve the project at department level must be designated as the Project administrator in the application
  • The project owner must provide at least one academic mentor to the project and sign an agreement about what the institution can contribute to the STUD-ENT project. The contributions must be relevant and contribute to reducing technology - or other critical risks in the project
  • Students are not required to have studied or taken exams at the educational institution that supports the STUD-ENT project.

If the STUD-ENT project is awarded funding, the role of Project Owner is transferred to a limited liability company that the students establish in connection with the revised grant proposal. The students are not required to have established a limited liability company at the time they submit the application, but a company must be established if they are awarded funding. The original Project Owner, i.e. the department at the educational institution, will then become a partner.

Requirements relating to mentors

  • The project must have at least one academic mentor from the educational institution that supports the project. The academic mentor must be affiliated to a relevant research group that can help to reduce technology- or other critical risks in the project. The research group at the educational institution must complement the team by providing relevant expertise, for example critical specialised/technology expertise and help to strengthen the project’s implementation capacity.
  • The project must be affiliated to at least one commercial mentor from the business community, for example a serial entrepreneur or investor. The commercial mentor must complement the core team with relevant experience from the industry and market in question, or, if relevant, knowledge about tasks that are critical to the project, and help to strengthen the project’s implementation capacity.
  • The project can use several commercial and academic mentors who contribute complementary knowledge to the project. One of the academic mentors must be affiliated to the educational institution that supports the project. Any other academic mentors can be affiliated to other educational institutions. In total, the core team, with support from mentors, must have the necessary interdisciplinary and relevant expertise required to implement the project.

What can you seek funding for?

The funding from STUD-ENT must be used to realise the business idea or carry out critical activities that reduce technology- or other critical risks in the project to clarify any uncertainties that may prevent the project from progressing in the commercialisation process.

You will find detailed and important information here about what to enter in the project budget and in the document Guildelines for how to complete the esoknad application form.

Typical activities include optimising, clarifying and demonstrating technology concepts and verifying results. Clarifying areas of application, market potential and willingness to pay, and developing business models and strategies. Establishing contact with potential investors, partners, customers and users. "Freedom to operate", prepare and submit patent applications.  

The funding from STUD-ENT will be disbursed to the limited liability company. The project accounts must include the limited liability company’s approved project costs. Any services purchased from e.g. the educational institution or other companies will be invoiced to the limited liability company, which means that they can be covered by the Research Council's grant.

The following are examples of costs that cannot be included in the project costs:

  • costs related to new PhD- or post-doctoral candidates, but PhD- and post-doctoral candidates can be included in the project group
  • licences or purchase of the rights to research results
  • costs related to the maintenance of patents, marketing and other operational activities

Scope of funding
Under this call, funding may be sought for up to 100 per cent of the budgeted project costs, and there is no own contribution requirement.

Conditions for funding
The latest possible start-up date for the project will be 4 November 2021. Projects approved for funding that have not started within this date may lose their allocation.

Support for start-ups
The funding will be disbursed to the limited liability company the students have established/will establish if their project is approved.

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.

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 sets the following requirements:

  • the enterprise is not to 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 (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.

Termination of the project contract

It is important that the approved milestones are met 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

Relevant thematic areas for this call

This call is open for project proposals in all disciplines and areas of technology.

The Research Council emphasises ensuring a balanced portfolio of supported projects across sectors and disciplines.

Trade and industry

The call is open to all topics, but we would like the applicant to link their application to one or more of the industries and markets listed below. Remember to tick the topics/markets that are relevant to the application in the application form:

Building, construction and mining, Animal health, Energy, Finance and banking, Fisheries and aquaculture, Health industry, ICT industry, Agriculture, Aviation, Maritime industry, Food, Media and communication, The environment, Food industry, Oil, gas, Police, fire and rescue, defence, Processing industry, Travel and tourism, Space exploration, Shipping, Forests and wood, Smart city, Gaming and entertainment, Sports, training, Textile industry, Telecommunications, Transport and communications, Education, Retail/wholesale, Manufacturing industry, Other services

Practical information

Requirements for this application type

A complete application consists of the online application form and the mandatory attachments. Also see our Guildelines for how to complete the esoknad application form.

The complete application is to be created and submitted by the project manager via My RCN Web. The application and all attachments must be submitted in English. All attachments must be uploaded in PDF format.

You may revise and resubmit your 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.

Please use the templates for attachments where specified. There is no technical validation of the content of the attachments, so please make sure that you use the correct templates and upload the correct files for the selected type of attachment.

Attachments other than the mandatory attachments specified in the call, as well as any links to websites in the application, will not be included in the application review process.

The templates for attachments can be found at the end of the call for proposals.

Mandatory attachments

  • Project description of up to 10 pages in length, using the designated template. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Project description’.
  • CV of the project manager and all other key members of the project team, using the designated template. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Curriculum vitae (CV)’.
  • Declaration from shareholders, using the designated template. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.
  • Declaration regarding rights, using the designated template. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.
  • Project approval from the university or university college, using the designated template or the educational institution’s own template. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.
  • Additional information for commercialisation projects, using the designated template. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.
  • A one-page presentation, using the designated template. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.

Optional attachment

  • Letters of intent from potential customers, industry partners or other project partners.

Assessment criteria

Project proposals will be assessed in relation to the following criteria:

Excellence

To what extent is the project based on promising R&D results (not open source) that are sufficiently mature and will thereby contribute to developing new products, processes and services that will be significant improvements relative to existing solutions (state-of-the-art) within the same area?

i. Research results:
• To what extent is the research base underlying the project adequately described, and to what extent are the results considered to be sufficiently mature to initiate a process towards commercialisation?

ii. Degree of innovation:
• To what extent is the state-of-the-art described and to what extent do the research results represent innovation that can contribute to significant improvements of existing solutions (state-of-the-art) within the same area?

Impact

To what extent does the project have long-term potential for value creation and how likely is it that the innovation will be successfully realised?

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

ii. Strategy for realisation:
• To what extent does the application outline a realistic long-term strategy for realising the innovation, and to what extent are the details considered to be sufficiently accounted for given the project’s current level or maturity, e.g. investment needs, human resources needs, expected revenues, logistics distribution etc.?

iii. Risks, conditions and rights:
• To what extent does the application explain the full risk situation and the conditions and rights 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

To what extent is the project sufficiently feasible, and does the application clearly outline what the project seeks to achieve, clarify and/or trigger upon completion?

i. Project plan:
• To what extent does the application outline a realistic implementation plan, including milestones, deliveries, activities and methods, which are clearly based on what the project seeks to achieve, clarify or trigger upon completion?
• To what extent does the application adequately and convincingly outline the anticipated results of the project upon completion?

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?

Relevance to the call for proposals

The extent to which the project satisfies the guidelines and stipulations set out in the call for proposals.

The Research Council of Norway emphasises achieving a balanced portfolio of projects and will act in accordance with the Research Council’s general policy for allocation of funding, where the main points of which are

  • research ethics perspectives
  • gender equality, giving preference to projects led by women project managers, assuming the quality of the proposal on all common deeming factors being equal
  • sustainable development, giving preference of projects with a positive impact on sustainability and the environment, assuming the quality of the proposal on all common deeming factors being equal

Administrative procedures

The application will be made available in a digital portal for referees who will perform an assessment of the criteria ‘Excellence’, ‘Impact’ and ‘Implementation’. Each application is normally assessed by three referees.

Examples of typical referees to consider applications for this call are investors, entrepreneurs, industry leaders and specialists who are familiar with the technology involved or relevant areas of application. The referees are thereby considered representatives of the environments in relation to which the projects seek to have a triggering effect.  

A mathematical average per application is determined based on the referee assessments. The applications are then ranked and placed in one of the following three groups: 

  1. Group 1 – Applications with an average mark of above 5: The referees more or less agree on the assessment of these applications, which means there is no need for a panel to arrive at a final mark.  
  2. Group 2 – Applications with a medium average mark of between 4 and 5: In this case, the referees do not agree in their assessments. The applications advance to assessment by a virtual referee panel, where the referees arrive at a final mark.  
  3. Group 3 – Applications with an average mark of below 4: The referees more or less agree on the assessment of these applications, which means there is no need for a panel to arrive at a final mark.  

If the overall average mark awarded by the referees 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 result of the assessment of the four criteria given above are summarised as an ‘overall mark’, which represents the overall assessment 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.  

In the application process, the Research Council places emphasis on prioritising the best projects and on the assessments that are made being well-grounded. The assessments will thus be valuable feedback to applicants, regardless of whether their project is granted funding. 

Please note that rejected applications that are resubmitted without significant changes to the project and project application will be considered on the basis of the original assessment. 

Expected funding decision 
The Industry and services portfolio board make funding decisions on an ongoing basis. Applicants will be notified of the funding decision as soon as possible (normally within five to seven weeks) and no later than three months after the application was submitted.

When a project is recommended for funding, we will require more information about the project and any project partners. 

Create application

Applications for Student Entrepreneurship should be created on My RCN Web. Application templates should be filled and uploaded in the application.

Create application