Qualification – Research Commercialisation from Publicly Funded Research
Commercialisation Projects aim to contribute to increasing commercial exploitation of publicly funded research.
The purpose of a qualification project is to carry out initial investigations into the commercial potential of the research results and to clarify which course to pursue in the future – for example regarding the direction of research, technology development or which commercialisation strategy to choose. The results from a completed qualification project can be used to support an application for further commercialisation funding in the form of a proof-of-concept project, which could be the next step in the process from research to market.
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 academic 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.
Typical characteristics of the project
- The project is based on promising research results from approved research organisations (not based on open source nor published results, which may hinder patent protection) 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 upon project completion.
The call is open to all thematic areas and the projects can be at levels 2–7 on the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale used in the EU.
You will 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 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
- We do not require that collaboration partners are 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 effective cooperation 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 sub-contractors.
- The Project Owner and/or partners may give assignments to the project’s sub-contractors.
- A sub-contractor helps to carry out specific and delimited tasks in the project, and sub-contractors cannot hold any rights to the project results.
- You do not need to register the sub-contractors in the application form, but you must mention any large-scale assignments in the application (in the budget specification and 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 the use of R&D providers and sub-contractors on the Research Council’s website.
What can you seek funding for?
You may apply for up to 100 per cent of the budgeted project costs, and there is no own contribution requirement.
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.
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.
Reporting and disbursement of funds
Funding is disbursed in arrears. All project costs must be expensed and retrievable in the institution's official accounts. All reporting is done electronically.
Conditions for funding
Fulfilment of the grant rests on the allocation of funding for commercialisation to the Research Council over the state budget. The latest permitted project start date is 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 TTOs 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 in 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.
The definition of ‘knowledge transfer’ in the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s guidelines on state aid for research and development and innovation is:
"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 to 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 has been approved as an aid scheme by the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) with the reference: GBER XX/2023/R&D&I (reference will be added when available).
Other requirements relating to the project
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 may 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 a 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 industry 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 funded projects across sectors and disciplines.
Trade and industry
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 and Frequently Asked Questions about Commercialisation Projects.
- Project description, to be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Project description’.
- CV for the project manager and all other key members of the project team, to be uploaded as the attachment type ‘CV’.
- Declaration of rights for start-ups, to be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’. Please note! If you are not going to submit this form, you must upload a blank document under "Other items".
- Declaration form for undertakings, to be uploaded as the attachment type ‘Other’. Please note! If you are not going to submit this form, you must upload a blank document under "Other items".
Use the designated templates for all mandatory attachments. The templates can be found at the end of the call.
- Letters of intent from potential customers, industry partners or other project partners.
All attachments must be submitted together with the grant application. We will not accept attachments submitted after the application has been submitted unless we have requested further information.
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 call 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?
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?
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.)?
Relevance to the call for proposals
At least two of the Research Council’s case officers will assess the applications on the basis of the criteria ‘'Excellence’ ‘Impact’ and ‘Implementation’. The case officers have expertise in commercialising research results and knowledge of relevant technology or areas of application. If the overall average mark awarded by the referees for these criteria is 5 or higher on a scale where 7 is the highest mark, the application will also be assessed on the basis of the criterion ‘Relevance to the call for proposals’.
The result of the assessment of the abovementioned criterias will be summed up in an average grade as an overall indication for the application. The Research Council administration will present the project proposals and their respective marks for the final funding decision. The Chief Executive of the Research Council is the granting authority and makes the final decision regarding funding awards.
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 decision on funding taken as they are received. Applicants will be notified of the funding decision as soon as possible (normally within five to six weeks) and no later than three months after the application was submitted.
Applications for Qualification – Research Commercialisation from Publicly Funded Research should be created on My RCN Web. Application templates should be filled and uploaded in the application.Create application
Messages at time of print 26 March 2023, 01:41 CET