Completed

Funding for Research Infrastructure of National Importance

Important dates

13 Sep 2023

Webinar on this autumn's call for research infrastructure

04 Oct 2023

Open for applications

15 Nov 2023

Application deadline

Important dates

Purpose

Funding is available under this call for projects that: 

  • will give the Norwegian research community and business sector access to relevant and updated infrastructure which supports high-quality research and innovation and helps to provide the knowledge needed to address societal challenges; 
  • will strengthen, coordinate and optimise the use and internationalisation of national research infrastructure in areas where Norwegian research groups have particular strengths; 
  • involve new Norwegian participation in international infrastructures. 

About the call for proposals

This call for proposals encompasses funding for research infrastructure of national importance as defined in the Norwegian roadmap for research infrastructure 2023. The call also encompasses Norwegian participation in international research infrastructures, including infrastructures on the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) Roadmap. This year's call also provides an opportunity to apply for funding for pre-projects. 

Mandatory outline 

Only applicants who submitted a mandatory outline by the deadline of 21 June 2023 are eligible to apply for funding. This also applies to applications for pre-project funding. 

General framework for the call 

The infrastructures for which funding is sought must support the development of nationally prioritised research areas and relevant industries. The infrastructures must relate to the existing landscape of research infrastructures and the opportunities provided by already established infrastructures. The background for how we prioritise investments in research infrastructure in different areas is described in: 

It will be possible to apply for funding for: 

  • establishment/upgrade of research infrastructure: The research infrastructure must be of national importance and given high priority by the management of the collaborating institutions. This includes further development/upgrading of existing facilities that have previously been supported through INFRASTRUKTUR or the establishment of research infrastructures that have not previously received support through INFRASTRUKTUR, but which build on existing facilities (NOK 2-200 million).  
  • pre-projects: for new research infrastructure initiatives that need a planning phase to be mature in order to submit a subsequent call for proposals (up to NOK 2 million). The initiatives must be given high priority by the management of the collaborating institutions. Companies will not be eligible to receive support for pre-projects. 

Applications must be approved and submitted by the institutions' management, who are encouraged to limit the number of applications. All grant applications must be given high priority by the management of all institutions participating in the applicant consortium and be based on their research and strategic development. This also applies to preliminary projects. 

A minimum of NOK 70 million of the financial framework set out in the call is earmarked for research infrastructure of relevance to renewable energy, including CO2 capture and storage. The prerequisite is that the applications are of sufficient quality. 

Support for establishment/upgrading of research infrastructure 

For large, costly and complex research infrastructures, we encourage you to plan for a stepwise expansion of the research infrastructure and to apply for funding one stage at a time. The establishment or upgrade of research infrastructure for which funding is sought must be sufficiently well prepared to enable the project to start in the first half of 2025 at the latest. 

Support for pre-projects 

It is demanding to establish new research infrastructures. Experience from previous calls for proposals is that some applications for new research infrastructures are immature and that the consortium needs time to develop concepts, technical solutions and develop good models for utilisation and sustainable operations. Under this year's call, it will therefore be possible to apply for funding for pre-projects aimed at financing a planning phase for new infrastructure initiatives that may submit applications for a later call. There will be no requirement to have completed a pre-project in order to apply for funding under subsequent calls for proposals.  

The call is available in both Norwegian and English. The Norwegian call for proposals is the legally binding version. 

Who is eligible to apply?

Only approved Norwegian research organisations and publicly funded managers of research infrastructure that cooperate closely with Norwegian research organisations are eligible to apply.  

See here for the list of approved Norwegian research organisations

Who can participate in the project?

Requirements relating to the Project Owner and partners 

The organisation listed as the Project Owner in the grant application form must have approved the submission of the application to the Research Council. The grant application must describe how the project incorporates the strategic objectives and priorities of the Project Owner and all partners. 

Research organisations, publicly funded managers of research infrastructure that cooperate closely with Norwegian research organisations, and other organisations or companies may participate as partners in infrastructure projects. The latter two are not eligible to receive any of the Research Council's support for the project and must bear their own project costs. 

What can you seek funding for?

Please refer to What type of research infrastructure is eligible for funding for a detailed description of the costs that are eligible for funding. 

In general, funding may be sought for the following: 

Funding for establishment/upgrading of research infrastructure:  

  • funding for the establishment and upgrading of all types of research infrastructures of national importance as defined in the Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure 2023
  • participation in international research infrastructure cooperation, including participation in infrastructures on the ESFRI Roadmap; 
  • coordination and national adaptation of shared services based on existing research infrastructures;
  • funding for long-term operation in special cases.

When the funding constitutes state-aid, Article 26 of the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid: Investment aid for research infrastructures, stipulates what funding may be sought. See more information about this below. 

Where possible, we encourage the use of existing research infrastructure, and seek funding for expansion and upgrades rather than the establishment of new infrastructure. Grant applications relating to upgrades/further development of research infrastructure that have previously received funding under this scheme must complete and submit a separate attachment. For such grant applications, it must be clearly stated that the application is being promoted by the existing research infrastructure as an upgrade and not as a new infrastructure. 

Applications seeking Norwegian participation in cooperation on the establishment or upgrade of international research infrastructures, including projects on the ESFRI Roadmap, must submit a separate attachment describing the Norwegian participation and its intrinsic value. 

In special cases, we may award funding to cover the operating costs of research infrastructures. To be eligible, applicants must either apply for funding to establish/upgrade the relevant research infrastructure under the current call, or you must have previously received such funding (see What type of research infrastructure is eligible for funding). Funding for operating costs may not be awarded in cases where the aid for the establishment/upgrade of research infrastructure constitutes state aid. Long-term support for financing operations (beyond the establishment phase) will be assessed on the basis of the applicant's information in a separate attachment. 

Grant applications relating to establishment/upgrade of research infrastructure must use the designated project description template. 

Funding for pre-projects: 

  • Funding to cover actual costs necessary to carry out the pre-project. This includes salary and personnel costs for conducting concept studies, coordination and participation in working groups, and costs related to travel and participation in meeting forums. The initiative must be of national importance as defined in the Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure 2023 and anchored in the institutions' management.  

Support for pre-projects may be awarded to approved Norwegian research organisations and publicly funded managers of research infrastructure that cooperate closely with Norwegian research organisations. Research Council funding is deemed to go to the non-economic activity of the research organisations. Companies will not be eligible to receive support to cover project costs. Awarded funding therefore does not constitute state aid. 

Grant applications seeking pre-project funding must use a designated template for the project description. 

You will find detailed and important information about what the budget should contain on the website

Scope of funding 

Scope of funding 

Projects seeking funding for the establishment/upgrade of research infrastructure may be awarded funding for up to five years. The minimum amount of funding from the Research Council is NOK 2 million, while the maximum amount of funding is NOK 200 million. Where the allocation constitutes state aid, it cannot exceed EUR 20 million per infrastructure. 

The pre-projects may be awarded funding for up to two years, and the maximum funding is NOK 2 million. The aid is considered to go to the organisations' non-economic activity, and it does not constitute state aid. Up to NOK 16 million of the total available funding may be allocated to pre-projects. 

Conditions for funding 

Funding for establishment/upgrading of research infrastructure  

For the part of the funding that goes to undertakings (entities that offer goods or services on a given market, i.e. that carry out economic activity), this call for proposals constitutes a funding scheme that is notified to the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA). It has reference GBER 69/2023/R&D&I. 

Funding will then be awarded in accordance with Article 26 of the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid (Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014). In addition, the general conditions set out in Chapter I of the Regulation must be met. The rules can be found here

This funding scheme is practised in compliance with the EEA state aid rules. This means that conditions and concepts set forth in this call 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 shall take precedence. The text of the call may be adjusted for this same reason. 

State aid may not be given to an undertaking which is subject to an outstanding recovery order following a formal decision by the EFTA Surveillance Authority or the European Commission that state aid received is illegal and incompatible with the internal market. Nor may support be granted to an enterprise that is defined as an “undertaking in difficulty” under the state aid rules. 

For more information about Article 26 of the Block Exemption and about the economic and non-economic activity of research organisations and research infrastructures, please see the Research Council webpage Conditions for awarding state aid. Institutions that receive funding under this call are required to have a clear accounting distinction between their financial and non-economic activities related to the research infrastructure, so that the Research Council's allocation is in accordance with the state aid rules. Before any contract is signed, you will therefore be asked to inform about the capacity of the planned infrastructure and what proportion of the capacity will be used for economic activity. 

Prior to entering into a contract with the Research Council, a plan must be in place for future financing of operating the infrastructure to be established/upgraded/renewed. This plan must present future operating costs of the infrastructure and describe plans for covering these. If the plan includes contribution of own resources towards financing for the infrastructure’s operation, the Research Council will consider this to be binding. 

We encourage the use of the model for research infrastructure resource costs ("leiestedsmodell") as a basis for cost and capacity calculations. You can find more information about this on our website about what the budget should contain

Pre-projects 

Funding from the Research Council is deemed to go to the non-economic activity of the research organisations. Companies will not be eligible to receive support to cover project costs. Awarded funding therefore does not constitute state aid. 

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

Scientific articles and research data 

In general, the users of the infrastructure are responsible for choosing the archiving solution for the data generated. However, the Project Owner (research organisation) for the infrastructure is to offer guidance to the projects regarding the choice of archiving solution. The means by which the infrastructure will ensure that it has such supervisory competence is described in connection with the revision of the grant application. 

Where relevant, the infrastructure must ensure that the principles and guidelines set out in the Research Council of Norway's Policy for Open Access to Research Data are complied with.  

  • In cases where the infrastructure itself collects/generates data, the Project Owner must prepare a plan describing how the data will be handled in a data management plan when revising the grant application. See our guide for what a good data management plan should contain.  
  • Where someone else's use of the infrastructure entails collection/generation of data, the Project Owner must require users of the infrastructure to prepare a data management plan.  
  • Data infrastructures intended to facilitate sharing and reuse of research data/databases shall have a policy that describes how they safeguard data management in their systems and services.  
  • Data infrastructures that archive research data must prepare a plan to ensure that the data are appropriately safeguarded and retained by other relevant actors if the infrastructure is terminated. 

Special requirements 

Requirements relating to the institutions 

It is the institution's management that will promote the applications. Grant applications are encouraged to be viewed in the context of the institution's strategy and to be aware of long-term operating costs that may accrue to the institution(s) following new investments and upgrades of research infrastructure.  

If the institution submits multiple applications, or is a partner in several applications, the institution's management must send a letter to the Research Council listing and ranking all the research infrastructures prioritised by the institution. NOTE: It is mandatory to use the given template for this letter ("Mal for prioriteringsbrev"), which can be found at the end of this call text. The letter must be sent to the Research Council's mail reception before the application deadline: post@forskningsradet.no with a copy to forinfra@forskningsradet.no and marked "Institusjonens prioritering av forskningsinfrastruktur". 

The institutions must allocate qualified personnel to the management and operation of the research infrastructure. 

Requirements relating to the application 

In addition to the cost and funding plan for the project given in eSøknad, grant applications relating to funding for the establishment/upgrade of research infrastructure must include a separate attachment: the Excel spreadsheet form for costs and funding, which can be found at the end of this call. In the form, you must highlight costs associated with investment/establishment and operation of the infrastructure separately. Costs and financing of operations must be completed for a period of 10 years. 

Grant applications that include use of existing national infrastructure for storage and accessibility of data must include a confirmatory letter from the person responsible for the existing national infrastructure(s), confirming their approval of the project's plan. You must explain how any costs associated with handling, storing and making data available will be financed. 

Requirements relating to the project description 

The project descriptions for funding for establishment/upgrade of research infrastructure and pre-projects have different templates. The correct template must be followed, which can be found at the end of this call. 

Projects relating to the establishment/upgrade of research infrastructure have certain specific requirements for the project description, which must: 

  • contain a clear description of what you can achieve within an alternative "minimum framework" if the amount applied for exceeds NOK 30 million. This may be combined with a plan for increases in funding, provided that this is meaningful. 
  • clearly describe how the infrastructure will be made available to research groups and relevant trade and industry belonging to parties other than the Project Owner and partners. In order to safeguard the interests of the user environment, it is recommended to establish a steering group or advisory board with representatives from several institutions. This also applies to infrastructures that are established, owned and operated by only one institution, but which have a larger user group. 

In applications that include the development of new storage solutions and/or services for handling and/or making data available, the description of the future plan for the financial operation of the infrastructure must take into account that a share of operating revenues will be able to cover a minimum of costs associated with upgrading. It must also describe how these solutions will be integrated with relevant existing national/international data infrastructures and relevant international initiatives or European Common Data Spaces, such as the European Open Science Cloud.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

This call encompasses all disciplines, thematic areas and technology areas.

Research infrastructure

Advanced production processesAgricultureAquacultureBasic research in mathematics and natural sciencesBiodiversity and the environmentBioeconomyBiotechnologyClimateCultureDemocracy, power and governanceDigitalisation and use of ICTEnvironment-friendly energyFoodForeign and international relationsHealthMaritime sectorMineral resourcesNanotechnology/advanced materialsPetroleumPolarResearch on ICT developmentTransport and mobilityWelfare

Practical information

Requirements for this application type

Requirements for this application type 

You can change and submit the application several times up to the application deadline. We recommend that you submit your application as soon as you have completed the application form and uploaded the mandatory attachments. When the application deadline expires, it is the latest version of the submitted application that we will process. 

  • The grant application and all attachments must be submitted in English. 
  • All mandatory attachments must be included. 
  • All attachments must be in PDF format. Please note that for the Excel documents, each sheet must be converted to PDF format. 
  • The application must be based on outline(s) submitted by the 21 June 2023 deadline, and explicit reference must be made to the outline(s) on which the application is based. 

Attachments 

The designated templates must be used. They are found at the end of this call for proposals. 

Mandatory attachments for funding for establishment/upgrade of research infrastructure 

  • project description of maximum 15 pages using the designated template. 
  • description of work packages according to the designated template of maximum 2 pages per work package 
  • Excel form for costs and funding 2023 using the designated template. Uploaded under Attachments/Other items. 
  • CV for the project manager at the applicant institution and sub-project managers (work package leaders) at all partner institutions of maximum 4 pages per person using the designated template 
  • declaration from the applicant institution on how the infrastructure is part of the institution's research strategy 
  • confirmation at institutional level from each partner of their obligations under the project and a declaration that the infrastructure is part of the institution's research strategy, including a brief description of how the infrastructure is included in the strategy; 
  • additional attachments if the application concerns: 
    • projects that have previously received funding through INFRASTRUKTUR and are applying for further investments (in phase 2/3/4/...) may attach a separate attachment of maximum 2 pages using the designated template. 
    • Norwegian participation in international infrastructures: Separate appendix of maximum 3 pages using the designated template. NOTE! new nodes in ESFRI infrastructures must attach letters of support from the international coordinator 
    • Long-term basic financing of operations: separate appendix of maximum 5 pages using the established template 
    • Applications that include use of existing national infrastructures for storage and accessibility of data: a confirmatory letter from the person responsible for the existing national infrastructure(s) confirming their approval of the project's plan 

Optional attachments for funding for establishment/upgrade of research infrastructure 

  • Letter of Intent (LOI) or letters of support from external user communities (drawn up by these and not by the applicant consortium) that support the need and potential for utilisation of the infrastructure applied for. 
  • Suggestions for up to five referees who are presumed to be impartial to assess the application 

Mandatory attachments for pre-projects 

  • project description of maximum 5 pages using the designated template. 
  • CVs for the project manager and key participants in the pre-project at all partner institutions of maximum 4 pages per person, using the designated template. 
  • Declaration from the applicant institution on how the infrastructure is part of the institution's research strategy 
  • confirmation at institutional level from each partner of their obligations under the project and a declaration that the infrastructure is part of the institution's research strategy, including a brief description of how the infrastructure is included in the strategy; 

We will not consider documents and websites linked to in the application, or other attachments than those specified above. Be careful to upload the correct attachment type, as there are no technical restrictions on what kind of templates it is possible to upload in the application form.

Assessment criteria

Grant applications will be assessed in light of the objective of the call and the following criteria:

Excellence

The extent to which the infrastructure will contribute to scientific renewal and/or scope
• The extent to which the infrastructure will help to elevate Norwegian research to a top international level;
• The extent to which the infrastructure provides services that meet the needs of relevant research communities or research areas.

The quality and uniqueness of the infrastructure
• The extent to which the infrastructure is "state-of-the-art" – the best technological solutions are being chosen;
• How the infrastructure is aligned with the landscape of existing, relevant infrastructures, and the extent to which the proposal has been coordinated with these.

Impact

Potential impacts
•The extent to which the infrastructure will have a potential impact on:
- the research system;
- innovation;
- society.

Accessibility and utilisation
• The extent to which:
- the infrastructure will be made accessible to all relevant users;
- there will be dissemination and communication activities targeted towards all relevant stakeholders/users;
- the infrastructure facilitates user participation from research communities, the business sector, public administration and other relevant contributors.

Implementation

Quality of project management and organisation
• The extent to which:
- the project manager has the necessary qualifications to lead the project;
- the project group has the relevant expertise and resources needed to establish, operate and offer services to relevant user groups;
- the project organisation is suitable for the infrastructure.

Plans for establishment/upgrade and operation of the infrastructure
• The extent to which:
- there is a carefully weighed, realistic plan for establishing/upgrading the infrastructure, including breakdown into work packages/sub-projects, milestones, deliverables, costs and resource needs;
- there are plans for how to make optimal use of the infrastructure;
- there are well thought out plans for how the data that the infrastructure generates/manages are to be structured, stored and published or otherwise made accessible;
- there is a risk assessment and proposed measures for dealing with any high-risk incidents.

• Applications proposing the establishment/upgrade of a Norwegian node of an international research infrastructure collaboration will be assessed on the extent to which the role distribution between the Norwegian partner (node) and the international partners is clearly defined and suitable (based on the information provided by the applicant in a special attachment).

Assessment of technical solutions
• The extent to which the proposed technical solutions are sufficiently mature to warrant establishment of the infrastructure;
• Projects involving independent development of equipment and technical solutions will also be assessed as to:
- whether it is documented that no available solutions exist in the market, which justify the independent development;
- whether the underlying methodology/technology has been demonstrated as functional in a relevant environment (Technology Readiness Level 6 as defined in the European Commission).

Overall assessment of the referee/panel

Overall assessment of the referee/panel based, on the criteria Excellence, Impact and Implementation.

Special priorities of the call

The extent to which the project satisfies the special priorities set out in the call for proposals in addition to those mentioned below. These priorities will be specified in the calls for proposals.

National importance

• Assessment of the extent to which the infrastructure:
- is of widespread national interest;
- will be available in only one or a few locations in Norway;
- supports national priority research areas and strategies.

Cooperation and task-sharing

• Assessment of the extent to which the project:
- contributes to the constructive distribution of tasks and responsibilities at the national level;
- will make use of national research expertise;
- promotes national cooperation on investments in and operation of research infrastructures.

• When relevant, assessment of the extent to which the project:
- cooperates with other relevant national and/or international infrastructures.

Strategic basis within the institution

• Assessment of the extent to which the project reflects the strategic basis of the institution, and its role in relation to the Project Owner’s and partners’ strategic objectives and plans.

Benefits to society

• The extent to which the infrastructure will promote:
- innovation and/or value creation in the business and/or the public sector, when this is relevant;
- increased knowledge/expertise of importance to society.

Implementation and organisation

• The extent to which:
- the project has a financially robust operational model for the infrastructure;
- the funding plan for establishing/upgrading the infrastructure is well thought out and realistic;
- good plans are in place to make the infrastructure accessible to users outside the host institutions;
- the project incorporates adequate coordination and an appropriate distribution of tasks and obligations regarding the establishment/upgrade and operation of the infrastructure;
o For applications for upgrades/further development of an existing infrastructure, the achievement of targets in previous phases funded by the Research Council will be assessed.
o For applications for long-term basic funding for operation, the need for support will be based on the information provided by the applicant in a special attachment.
- the project is sufficiently mature for implementation;
- it is possible to plan for phase-by-phase implementation and whether the budgetary framework can be reduced while maintaining the project’s objectives.

Overall assessment of administrative review panels

An overall assessment of the application will be carried out based on the referee assessments and the assessment criteria. The administrative review panel will assess proposals based on the strengths and weaknesses identified in the referee assessments and assessment criteria it has reviewed itself.

All applications will be assessed according to the same criteria, with the exception of the criteria relating to implementation. The pre-projects will have a simpler assessment of the project's implementation capacity. Assuming that all factors relating to scientific merit and strategic relevance are essentially equal, priority will be given to projects led by women project managers.

Administrative procedures

The application review process comprises a scientific assessment carried out by external referees and a strategic assessment carried out by the Research Council administration. 

All grant applications will first be assessed by a committee comprising external referees (referee panels) who assess whether the research infrastructure will be able to contribute to research of high scientific quality. This assessment serves as important advisory input for the Research Council's further processing of grant applications, which will be carried out by the administration. 

The Research Council administration first assesses the grant applications per discipline/thematic area of the national significance of the infrastructures as defined in the Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure 2023, of the infrastructures' strategic relevance to Norwegian research priorities and of the implementation of the project. The Research Council does not conduct the scientific assessment of the grant applications. The administration will then conduct an overall assessment of the strategic importance of the highest-ranked grant applications across disciplines and portfolios. Finally, the administration prepares a recommendation for the decision-making body, which is the Board for the research system. 

Stage 1: Scientific review 

The composition of the referee panels will reflect the scientific profile of the grant applications received. In the interests of impartiality, all the panel members are drawn from abroad. 

Grant applications deemed to be of relevance to several of the strategic areas will be assessed by more than one referee panel. 

Stage 2: Strategic-administrative review 

The first stage of the strategic administrative review is carried out by panels (called administrative panels) consisting of Research Council employees with good knowledge of a scientific, thematic and/or technological area and of Norwegian research actors. These panels are divided in much the same way as the sub-areas in the Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastructure 2023. Grant applications deemed to be of relevance to several of the strategic sub-areas will be assessed by more than one administrative panel. All applications that have received a high mark by the referee panels (5, 6 or 7) will be assessed administratively. Applications awarded a mark of 4 or lower from the referee panels will not be assessed administratively. 

Stage 3: Final selection by strategic-administrative overall assessment 

Based on the overall assessment from the strategic administrative panels, an overall assessment is made across disciplines and portfolios. The following points will be emphasised in the overall assessment: 

  • how the project addresses the priorities and overall objectives of the Government's Long-term plan for research and higher education 2023–2032 - the national importance of the research infrastructure within strategic priority areas 
  • how the infrastructure contributes to meeting needs not covered by existing research infrastructures or upgrading them;  
  • rankings and assessments from the administrative panels 
  • requirements and guidelines set out in the call 
  • the link between investments in research infrastructures and research funded through the Research Council's other policy instruments. Investments must be proportionate to the scope of research and the need for research infrastructure in these areas. 
  • the degree of urgency to establish/continue the research infrastructures 
  • achieving a broad, balanced project portfolio: all the national priority areas should be supported with research infrastructures over time, provided there are high-quality grant applications submitted 
  • international commitments, including the management of host roles where Norwegian institutions have important roles in cooperation related to international infrastructure; 
  • whether there is a sufficient financial framework available to finance the project; 
  • how well prepared the proposed establishment or upgrade activities are to achieve rapid project implementation; 

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