Proof-of-Concept – Research Commercialisation from Publicly Funded Research – Commercialisation Project 2022
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This call is now closed. We will publish a new call for 2023 at a later date.
Do you believe that your research results may have commercial potential? The aim of the application type Commercialisation Project is to contribute to increasing commercial exploitation of publicly-funded research.
The purpose of a Proof-of-Concept Project is to reduce the project’s uncertainty relating to technology and the market. The goal is that when the Proof-of-Concept Project is concluded, the most critical questions and uncertainties have been clarified, so that the next stage of the commercialisation process can begin.
About the call for proposals
Norway’s funding system targets different funding gaps in relation to the commercialisation of research results. The Research Council covers the first phase, from technology to the pre-commercial phase. There is still close interaction with professional and research communities during this phase. At the same time, close dialogue with market players (investors, clients, partners etc.) is strategically important in order to ensure that the project is on the right track. The goal of the project is to reduce technology and market risk in order to ensure a trigger effect in the next phase once the project is completed.
The call primarily targets proposals for new projects that have not previously been awarded funding by the Research Council, with the following exceptions:
- Projects that have previously received funding to carry out qualification work, see the call Qualification – Commercialisation from Publicly Funded Research – Commercialisation Project 2022, or for optimisation (former call under BIOTEK2021).
- Projects that have received Proof-of-Concept funding and can demonstrate successful progress, but where further clarification is needed, and no other funding possibilities are available due to the project’s risk profile and time-to-market.
The call is open to all thematic areas and the project can be at levels 2–7 on the Technology readiness level (TRL) scale used in the EU.
You can find practical information, frequently asked questions, examples of projects etc. on our Commercialisation Project information page.
The Norwegian-language call for proposals is the legally binding version.
Who is eligible to apply?
The following actors are eligible to seek funding:
- Approved research organisations
- Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs)
- Start-up companies originating in an approved research organisation
Who can participate in the project?
Requirements relating to the Project Owner
The Project Owner must be one of the following:
- Approved Norwegian research organisations may apply. See the list of approved Norwegian research organisations.
Technology transfer office
- A research organisation that owns the intellectual property rights must be a partner in the project.
- Start-up companies must stem from an approved research organisation from which the research results originate, and the company must fulfil the criteria set out in Article 22 of the EU Commission's General Block Exemption Regulation.
- Start-ups must include a rights statement from the management of the research organisation or its affiliated Technology transfer office (TTO) confirming that the research originated in the said research organisation, and that the company has the necessary rights to develop its research results for commercial use.
- Start-ups must enclose a self-declaration confirming the size of the company and that it does not have outstanding repayment claims.
- Sole proprietorships may not be listed as applicants.
For more information, see the section ‘Conditions for funding’ below.
Requirements relating to project managers
The organisation listed as the Project Owner in the application form must have authorised the project manager to submit the grant application.
Requirements relating to partners
- Partners are not required to be involved in the project unless the Project Owner shares the rights to project results with other actors that meet the criteria under ‘Who is eligible to apply?’, for example if a Technology transfer office is listed as the Project Owner.
- Partners must be involved in an effective collaboration with the Project Owner and share both the risk associated with the project and the results it generates.
- Any partners must be registered in the grant application form, and the Project Owner must enter into an agreement with them about the potential allocation and contract.
Requirements relating to sub-contractors
- Any other actors that supply counselling, development or research to the project must be considered a sub-contractor.
- The Project Owner and/or partner may give assignments to the project’s sub-contractors.
- A sub-contractor helps to carry out specific and delimited tasks in the project, and you cannot give a sub-contractor any rights to the project results.
- You must not register the sub-contractors in the application form, but you must mention any large-scale assignments in the application (budget specification, project description).
Please note that the role of R&D provider must not be used in Commercialisation Project applications. For more information, see our page on Partners and sub-contractors on the Research Council’s website.
What can you seek funding for?
You will find detailed and important information about what to enter in the project budget on our website and in the Guidelines for how to complete the application form.
Project costs are the actual costs that are necessary to carry out the project.
Typical activities include
- optimising, clarifying and demonstrating technology concepts and results
- clarifying areas of application, market potential, willingness to pay, and developing business models, and strategies
- establishing contact with potential investors, industry partners, customers and users
- preparing the basis for Freedom to Operate, and preparing and submitting patent applications
The following are examples of costs that cannot be included in the project costs:
- licences or purchase of the rights to research results
- operating costs related to e.g. maintenance of patents or other operational activities
- costs related to funding fellowship-holders (PhD and post-doctoral fellows). However, fellowship-holders can be included in the project group and carry out tasks for the project. The allocation can be used to cover paid release of fellowship-holders.
Scope of funding
You may apply for up to 100 per cent of the budgeted project costs, and there is no own contribution requirement.
Conditions for funding
Fulfillment of the grant assumes that the Reserach Council is allocated funding for commercialisation over the government budget. The latest date for cemmencement of the project will be three months after notification of funding. Projects that have been approved for funding, but have not started by this time, may lose their funding.
Research organisations and technology transfer offices
Approved research organisations, the TTO representing them and any partners that are to receive funding must satisfy the definition of a research and knowledge dissemination organisation set out in the state aid rules. Any other partners will not be eligible to receive funding from the Research Council under these projects.
Definition of research and knowledge dissemination organisation in the state aid rules:
an entity (such as universities or research institutes, technology transfer agencies, innovation intermediaries, research-oriented physical or virtual collaborative entities), irrespective of its legal status (organised under public or private law) or way of financing, whose primary goal is to independently conduct fundamental research, industrial research or experimental development or to widely disseminate the results of such activities by way of teaching, publication or knowledge transfer. Where such entity also pursues economic activities, the financing, the costs and the revenues of those economic activities must be accounted for separately. Undertakings that can exert a decisive influence upon such an entity, for example in the quality of shareholders or members, may not enjoy a preferential access to the results generated by it.
Funding awarded to research organisations or their affiliated TTOs may only be used to cover project costs related to activities of a non-economic character in the form of knowledge-transfer activities, as described in Item 19(b) of the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s guidelines on state aid for research and development and innovation.
You must ensure that no indirect state aid is provided to partner companies through, for example, beneficially priced rights to research results. The collaboration agreement must ensure that the rights to the results are distributed in accordance with Item 28 of the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s guidelines on state aid for research and development and innovation.
What are non-economic knowledge-transfer activities?
To be considered part of the research organisation’s non-economic activity, the knowledge-transfer activity must, according to the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s guidelines, be conducted either by the research organisation itself or jointly with, or on behalf of, other such entities.
Definition of ‘knowledge transfer’ in the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s guidelines on state aid for research and development and innovation:
"knowledge transfer” means any process which has the aim of acquiring, collecting and sharing explicit and tacit knowledge, including skills and competence in both economic and non-economic activities such as research collaborations, consultancy, licensing, spin-off creation, publication and mobility of researchers and other personnel involved in those activities. Besides scientific and technological knowledge, it includes other kinds of knowledge such as knowledge on the use of standards and regulations embedding them and on conditions of real life operating environments and methods for organisational innovation, as well as management of knowledge related to identifying, acquiring, protecting, defending and exploiting intangible assets.
Additionally, all profits from these activities are to be reinvested in the primary activities of the research organisation. In this case, funding for knowledge-transfer activities is not considered state aid. It is important to note that the non-economic nature of these activities is not compromised by contracting the provision of such services by third parties by way of open tenders.
We require a clear separation of accounts for the research organisation/TTO’s economic and non-economic activities.
Read more about this on our information page: Conditions for awarding state aid.
Start-ups must be aware that funding will be awarded as state aid in accordance with Article 22 of the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid (Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014).
The allocation of funding must be in accordance with the 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 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.
Article 22 of the General Block Exemption Regulation states that funding can only be awarded to enterprises that
- are not listed on the stock exchange;
- have been registered in the Register of Business Enterprises for less than five years;
- have not taken over the activity of another enterprise;
- have not distributed profits;
- have not been formed through a merger.
In addition to the requirements listed above, the Research Council sets the following requirements:
- the enterprise is not to have more than ten employees;
- the enterprise’s annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet is not to exceed NOK 2 million.
When assessing an enterprise’s size, you must also give consideration 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, and the EU Commission’s User guide to the SME definition.
The call for proposals will be reported as an aid scheme by the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) with the reference: GBER 46/2022/R&D&I.
Typical characteristics of the project
- The project is based on promising research results (not open source or published results) that are sufficiently robust to contribute to developing new products, processes and services that represent significant improvements relative to existing solutions (state-of-the-art).
- The project is in a pre-commercial phase.
- The project will undertake initial investigations that aim to clarify which course to pursue, whether the direction of research, technology development or strategic decisions.
- The project is clear about what it seeks to achieve during the project period and what it expects to clarify and/or trigger on project completion.
Establish a steering committee
Projects awarded funding must establish a steering committee. The committee members' combined expertise must cover all of the most important risk elements associated with the project. The Research Council’s case officer is entitled to attend steering committee meetings
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 project funding 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.
Requirement for Gender Equality Plan
From 2022, all grant recipients that are research organisations or public sector bodies (Project Owners and partners) must have a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) available on their website. This must be in place when they sign the grant agreement for projects awarded funding from the Research Council. The requirement does not apply to the business sector, special interest organisations or the non-governmental sector.
A link to the Gender Equality Plan must be included in the project description.
Relevant thematic areas for this call
The call is open for applications in all fields. 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.
Requirements for this application type
A complete application consists of the application form and the mandatory attachments and must be submitted via My RCN Web.
- The application and all attachments must be submitted in English.
- All attachments must be uploaded in PDF format.
For more information, see the Guidelines for how to complete the application form.
- Project Description – Qualification Project 2022. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Project description’.
- CV of the project manager and all other key members of the project team This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘CV’.
- Declaration of rights for Start-ups. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.
- Declaration form for undertakings. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.
- Expert Suggestions for Application Assessment. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.
Use the designated templates for all mandatory attachments. They are available for download at the end of the call.
- Letters of intent from potential customers, industry partners or other project partners.
Applications that do not meet the requirements listed above will be rejected. 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 the attachments you upload, so please make sure that you upload the correct file for the selected type of attachment.
We assess applications in light of the objectives of the application type in question and on the basis of the following criteria:
• To what extent is the underlying research base adequately described, including who is behind the research and how it originates from publicly funded research in a research organisation, what is novel, why is the research interesting, where is the project on the TRL scale?
Degree of innovation
• To what extent is the need or problem to be solved in a new or better way accounted for and how does it differ from existing solutions (state-of-the-art)?
Market insight and areas of application
• To what extent are market insight, areas of use, and the reasons why the results are commercially interesting accounted for? To what extent does the applicant refer to dialogue with relevant actors?
• To what extent is the competition situation identified and accounted for?
Strategy for realisation
• To what extent have the main aspects concerning what will happen after the project been accounted for, including any hypotheses addressing choice of strategy, challenges, risks and rights, expected revenues, investment- and human resources needs?
Benefit to society and sustainability
• To what extent does the project describe important societal challenges that the project may potentially contribute to solve?
• To what extent does the project explain what will be done, why the activities are important, what is considered a successful outcome, and what the results will trigger?
• To what extent does the project present a realistic implementation plan with measurable milestones and associated activities?
Management, team and expertise
• To what extent does the project have access to the necessary resources and expertise to implement the project?
• To what extent does the project have a plan for involving relevant external actors (investors, partners, clients, stakeholders, mentors, public and societal actors, etc.)?
• 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
Assuming all other quality-related factors are essentially equal, the Reserach Council will prioritise:
- Projects led by women project managers
- Projects that resolve important societal challenges
At least three external referees will assess the applications on the basis of the criteria ‘Excellence’, ‘Impact’ and ‘Implementation’. Examples of typical referees used 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 that are the target of the project’s trigger effect.
A mathematical average per application is determined based on the referee assessments. We then rank the applications and place them in one of the following three groups:
- Group 1 – Applications with an average mark bove 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.
- Group 2 – Applications with a medium average mark between 4 and 5: The referees are uncertain about these applications or their assessments are not quite in agreement. The applications advance to assessment by a referee panel, and the applicants are invited to a panel meeting to answer the referees’ questions before they can arrive at a final mark.
- Group 3 – Applications with an average mark 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.
Applications in group 1 and 3 can proceed to the panel for processing if the experts' assessments are not fully agreed or if the project has previously received support for verification.
If the overall average mark awarded by the referees is 5 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 ensuring that the assessments we make are well-founded. The assessments will thus be valuable feedback to applicants, regardless of whether their project is granted funding or not.
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
Applications are assessed and decided as they are received. 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.
Messages at time of print 2 February 2023, 03:31 CET
For the application deadline 8 February, we manage our hotline +47 22 03 72 00 from Thursday 2 February till Tuesday 7 February at CET 08.00–15.45 and Wednesday 8 February at CET 08.00-13.00.