Planned

The call may be subject to revision until 2 February. It will be possible to create and submit grant applications from that date and up to the submission deadline. If the call is revised, we will provide notification here.

Purpose

The purpose of the call is two-fold. Student entrepreneurship (STUD-ENT) aims to:

  • strengthen the entrepreneurship culture in the university and university college sector
  • give students taking higher education an opportunity to test their entrepreneurship abilities

The funding must be used to minimise uncertainties in student-driven business ideas so that the next stage of the commercialisation process can begin.

Important dates

02 Feb 2022

Date call is made active

16 Mar 2022

Application submission deadline

01 Jun 2022

Earliest permitted project start

01 Dec 2022

Latest permitted project start

28 Feb 2024

Latest permitted project completion

Important dates

About the call for proposals

The Research Council will provide funding of up to NOK 1 million for student-driven business ideas. The scheme is relevant for students with business ideas they have developed in the course of their studies and who want to invest in their idea.

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.

The STUD-ENT project aims to reduce technological and market uncertainties in the business idea. Upon project conclusion, the most critical questions and uncertainties have been clarified, so that the next stage of the commercialisation process can begin.

Project applications must be able to demonstrate:

  • business ideas that are related to specific knowledge the students have attained from their studies;
  • business ideas that are innovative and initial investigations that underpin the idea, the competitive advantage, a clear commercial potential and positive benefits to society;
  • a 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 critical risks in the project;
  • 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. New projects and project managers who have not previously received funding from STUD-ENT are eligible to apply. If we have previously rejected a grant application, you can apply again as long as the requirements in the call are met.

The Norwegian-language call for proposals is the legally binding version.
You can find practical information, frequently asked questions, examples of projects etc. on our Student entrepreneurship information page.

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 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.

The call for proposals has been approved as an aid scheme by The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) with the reference: GBER xx/SME (the correct reference will be published soon).

Who is eligible to apply?

A Norwegian university or university college can apply on behalf of students at master’s or PhD level or who are taking a programme of professional study and who wish to realise their business idea.

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to project managers

The project manager must either be a student or have completed his/her degree (received a diploma) no earlier than 12 months before the application deadline (i.e. no earlier than 16 March 2021) in connection with a master’s degree programme, a six-year programme of professional study or a PhD programme.

The following applies to students in education at the following levels:

  • master’s degree level: your master’s thesis must be submitted before project start-up. We will request documentation of a submitted and approved master’s thesis in the course of the project period
  • programme of professional study: you must have completed at least four years before project start-up
  • PhD level: submit a confirmation from the degree-conferring institution that the STUD-ENT project can be completed in parallel with the PhD programme (attach the confirmation to the application using the template at the end of the call).

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. This includes 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 (i.e. no earlier than 16 March 2021).
  • The core team must own at least 80 per cent 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 institution level at the Project Owner university or university college 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 help to reduce 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. However, the application must describe how the project is intended to strengthen the entrepreneurship culture at the Project Owner educational institution.
  • If your STUD-ENT project is awarded funding, the role of Project Owner is transferred to the limited liability company that the students have established/establish. 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 (university or university college) 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 the technology risk 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/technological 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. In total, the core team, with support from mentors, must have the interdisciplinary and relevant expertise necessary to implement the project.

What can you seek funding for?

You will find detailed and important information about what to enter in the project budget on our information page Budget and in the STUD-ENT Guidelines for how to complete the eSøknad application form (the page opens in a new window).

Typical activities include optimising, clarifying and demonstrating technological 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; 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:

  • costs relating to hiring research fellows (doctoral and post-doctoral candidates), but the project can cover paid release of research fellows
  • licences or purchase of the rights to research results
  • costs related to the maintenance of patents

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.

Support for start-ups

The funding will be disbursed to the limited liability company the students have established/will establish if their project is allocated funding.

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

Article 22 states that support can only be awarded to enterprises that:

  • are not listed on the stock exchange;
  • have not been registered for more 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 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 in which the enterprise itself has a holding of 25 per cent or more of the capital. 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.

Partners that are considered an undertaking, and that do not meet the requirements of Article 22 will not be eligible to receive support to cover projects costs and may not receive indirect support through the granting of any rights to project results.

Conditions for funding

From 1 January 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-profit sector.

Termination of the project contract

It is important that projects awarded funding achieve the approved milestones by the stipulated deadlines. This will be given particular weight when we assess 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 are involved in the project;
  • the project no longer has access to critical and necessary resources or equipment and results or new information has emerged that substantially diminishes the commercial potential of the project.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

This call encompasses all disciplines and areas of research. We strive to achieve a balanced portfolio of supported projects across sectors and disciplines.

Trade and industry

Building, construction and miningAnimal healthEnergyFinance and bankingFisheries and aquacultureHealth industryICT industryAgricultureAviationMaritime industryFoodMedia and communicationThe environmentFood industryOil, gasPolice, fire and rescue, defenceProcessing industryTravel and tourismSpace explorationShippingForests and woodSmart cityGaming and entertainmentSports, trainingTextile industryTelecommunicationsTransport and communicationsEducationRetail/wholesaleManufacturing industryOther services

Practical information

Requirements for this application type

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 grant 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 attachments must be uploaded in PDF format.
  • As the applicant, you are responsible for ensuring that you use the correct templates and upload the correct files for the selected type of attachment.

A complete application consists of the online application form and the mandatory attachments. For more information, see the STUD-ENT Guidelines for how to complete the eSøknad application form (the page opens in a new window).

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’.
  • Rights statement using the designated template. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.
  • Project approval from the educational institution using the designated template. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.
  • Additional information about the project using the designated template. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.
  • A one-page project summary using the designated template. This must be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’.

Optional attachments

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

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 documents you upload, so please make sure that you upload the correct file for the selected type of attachment.

Assessment criteria

Project proposals will be assessed 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.

We strive to achieve a balanced portfolio of supported projects and work in accordance with the Research Council’s general policy for the allocation of funding. This includes:

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

Administrative procedures

All applications are assessed by referees appointed by the Research Council, normally three referees per application. Examples of referees 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.

Following the referees’ assessments, the applications are divided into three groups based on their average mark:

  1. Group 1 – Applications awarded the mark 5 or better: The referees consider applications in this group to be good.
  2. Group 2 – Applications with a mark from 4 to 5:The referees are uncertain about the applications in this group. The applications go on to be assessed by a referee panel, where the referees arrive at a final mark.
  3. Group 3 – Applications with a mark of below 4: The referees do not consider applications in this group to be sufficiently good.

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 results 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 Board for Industry and Services for the final funding decision.

In the application process, we place 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 Portfolio Board for Industry and Services makes the final funding decision. 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 deadline.