Apply now

Industrial PhD Scheme – Doctoral Projects in Industry 2024

Due to an increase in the amount announced under this call, we have decided to move the deadline to 5 June 2024.

The call is updated according to the new information. 

Important dates

24 Apr 2024

Open for applications

05 Jun 2024

Application deadline

28 Aug 2024

Feedback on application processing and earliest permitted project start

28 Aug 2025

Latest permitted project start

27 Aug 2029

Latest permitted project completion date

Important dates

Purpose

The Research Council has established the Industrial PhD Scheme to boost research efforts and long-term competence-building for Norwegian trade and industry through the recruitment of doctoral candidates. 

The scheme is also intended to promote closer cooperation between the business sector and research organisations as a necessary step in promoting knowledge transfer from researchers to society at large. 

The target group is companies. The Industrial PhD Scheme provides companies with the opportunity to expand their research knowledge and expertise without having to participate in a more comprehensive R&D project. 

About the call for proposals

We are announcing funding for Industrial Ph.D. projects with a commencement within the next twelve months.  

Under this call, funding will be provided for at least 49 Industrial PhD projects. Of these, funding will preferably be awarded to:  

  • two projects of relevance to Maritime (see below)  
  • two projects of relevance to ICT security and cryptology (see below) 
  • ten projects within the field of Artificial Intelligence (see below) 
  • 35 Industrial PhD projects open to all themes and industries  

The Industrial PhD Scheme is not a competitive arena. This means that funding is not allocated on a competitive basis, but based on that all the requirements in the call for proposals have been met. 

The call will be open for applications from 24 April until 5 June 1:00 p.m. Applications received before the deadline 5 June 1:00 p.m. will be listed in order by means of randomisation (lottery draw). The applications will then be processed in the sequential order according to the outcome of the draw, until all available funds are allocated.  

Projects under the Industrial PhD Scheme are collaboration projects, normally between one company and a degree-conferring institution. The doctoral project must be based on an issue of relevance to the company but must be planned and carried out in close cooperation between the company and the degree-conferring institution. Other actors may be collaborators in the project under certain conditions. Read more about this under "Who can participate in the project?" 

The doctoral project must be completed either over three or four years. Candidates pursuing three-year projects must work full-time on the project. Candidates pursuing four-year projects must dedicate at least 75 per cent of a full-time position to the project and 25 per cent to other tasks. 

The project cannot start until you have been notified that the project has been approved. This means that the first start date for projects submitted by the deadline of 5 June, is 28 August 2024. 

Please note that any project activities that is carried out before the contract with the Research Council has been signed are undertaken at the project partners’ own risk. We recommend that you submit the application well in advance of the start of the project. The project can commence within the next twelve months after you have been notified of the approval. 

Projects that are awarded funding under the scheme are subject to the Research Council’s General Terms and Conditions for R&D Projects. More information is available on our website: What the contract involves

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

State aid 

This call for proposals constitutes a funding scheme that is notified to the EFTA Surveillance Authority. Funding awarded under this scheme is granted in accordance with Article 25 of the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid (Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014). In addition, the common provisions set out in Chapter 1 of the regulation must also apply. See the regulations here

This funding scheme is to be practiced in compliance with the EEA state aid rules. This means that conditions and concepts are to be interpreted in keeping with corresponding conditions and concepts in the state aid rules. In the event of conflict between the text of the call and the state aid rules, the latter will have precedence. The text of the call may be adjusted for this same reason. 

State aid may not be given to an undertaking 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. State aid cannot be given to an undertaking in difficulties, as defined by the EEA legal framework. 

The call for proposals has been approved as an aid scheme by The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) with the reference: (correct reference number will follow). 

Funding subject to special requirements 

There are funds available for 35 Industrial PhD projects without thematic restrictions in this year's call. In addition, there are funds to finance up to 15 additional projects if they meet specific criteria. 

  • Maritime. Up to two Industrial Ph.D. projects relevant to maritime research, as described in the maritime section of the Portfolio plan for Oceans research, will be funded. 
  • Doctoral education in ICT security and cryptology for persons with security clearance. In 2020, the Industrial PhD and Public Sector PhD schemes announced funds for 18 doctoral degree projects in ICT security and cryptology. Thus far, funding has been allocated to 16 out of 18 projects, meaning that funding is still available for two projects. 
    Funding earmarked ICT security and cryptology is given to projects in which the doctoral candidate has already been granted security clearance. Thus, the following additional guideline has been established for these projects:  
    • The candidate must have been granted security clearance and authorisation for clearance level Secret or higher required for access to classified material. Security clearance must be in place prior to the submission of the application to the Research Council. 

Please note that the results from the doctoral projects, including those in ICT security and cryptology, are to be published publicly. 

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI). We will fund up to ten doctoral projects within AI research relevant to the Government's billion-krones investment in artificial intelligence. This encompasses the implications of AI, technology development, and innovation. The PhD candidates are expected to be connected to established AI research environments. Examples of these include research environments participating in research centers (SFI and SFF) and larger research projects within AI funded by the Research Council of Norway or the EU. The candidate should be integrated into the PhD community and research related to larger projects, and have an academic supervisor in the AI environment. It is expected that the candidate participates in the national research school for artificial intelligence, NORA.Research.School - NORA - Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium.

Projects that do not meet the specific guidelines mentioned above may be awarded within the general Industrial PhD funds as far as they go. 

An application directed towards project funds with specific guidelines must fulfill all requirements and guidelines for the Industrial PhD. The application will also be evaluated against the specific guidelines outlined in the points above. 

Who is eligible to apply?

The applicant (Project Owner) must be an undertaking (company) that has been issued an enterprise number under the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises and that carries out economic activity in Norway. With economic activity, we mean offering goods or services in a market.

Companies and public enterprises that run activities of an industrial or commercial nature can apply if the enterprise is not financed with more than 60 per cent from public funding. 

The Project Owner must have at least two employees in full-time positions. The doctoral candidate may be one of these two employees. 

The following are not eligible to apply for funding under the Industrial PhD Scheme: 

  • enterprises that are financed with more than 60 per cent from public funding 
  • enterprises not carrying out or not planning to carry out economic activity 
  • clubs and associations, including labor unions 
  • research institutes, health trusts and organisations that are defined as research organisations by the Research Council
  • sole proprietorships and enterprises with less than two permanent employees 
  • enterprises that fall within the target group for the Public Sector PhD Scheme 
  • enterprises that at the time of application submission, are considered an "undertaking in difficulties" 

The Research Council will only provide support to doctoral candidates who have not previously completed a PhD degree. 

The call does not support the completion of doctoral degrees that have already been started.

Who can participate in the project?

The project owner and applicant to the Research Council must be a company (as defined above). The degree-conferring institution must be a partner in the Industrial PhD project. 

The Research Council stipulates the following requirements for the project and project participants: 

Requirements relating to the Project Owner  

  • The company must be listed as the Project Owner and must fall within the target group of the program. Please note that the Research Council may request additional documentation to determine whether the company satisfies this requirement. If you are uncertain as to whether the company is within the target group, please contact the Research Council’s contact points for the Industrial PhD Scheme before you submit your application.  
  • The doctoral project must be of clear relevance to the Project Owner’s activity and long-term needs for expertise. 
  • The Project Owner must demonstrate the financial ability to carry out the project. This means that the company must be able to secure funding for the entire duration of the project, also in the case of delays, and must be able to confirm that funding for the project will also be available in the case of postponements. Please note that we may request additional documentation during the application phase to assess whether this requirement is met. 
  • The Project Owner must appoint a dedicated supervisor/mentor for the project and must set aside adequate working hours and resources for completion of the doctoral project. The role of the company supervisor must be filled by an individual with expertise of relevance to the thematic orientation of the project. The company supervisor does not need to have a doctorate but will then be defined as a company mentor. A supervisor/mentor can be contracted from an external actor if the company does not have the relevant expertise. 
  • The candidate does not need to be employed at the time of application, but must be employed by the Project Owner throughout the duration of the project, and the employment contract must allow for possible delays. The doctoral candidate is to be employed in a full-time position for a period of three years for three-year projects, and at least 75 per cent of a full-time position for four-year projects. The terms of the candidate’s employment contract and working conditions must be in compliance with Norwegian regulations. 

Requirements relating to the degree-conferring institution 

  • The degree-conferring institution is responsible for ensuring that the doctoral project maintains an adequately high scientific standard. Under the Scheme, the doctoral project must meet the same requirements for scientific quality set out for other doctoral projects undertaken at the institution and must follow the institution’s regulations for doctoral degree education regarding admissions, implementation, and evaluation. 
  • The admission process must be underway at the time the grant application is submitted. The candidate must have been granted admission to the doctoral degree programme at the degree-conferring institution. The documents confirming admission may be forwarded when they are completed. The Research Council will not enter a contractual agreement with the Project Owner until the documentation has been submitted. 
  • If the degree-conferring institution is outside Norway, documentation confirming that the degree from the institution abroad is on a par with a doctoral degree obtained from a Norwegian university must be attached to the application. 

Requirements relating to cooperation and project organisation 

  • The project is to be implemented in accordance with the definition of “effective collaboration” in the state aid rules. Effective collaboration is defined as follows:
    Collaboration between at least two independent parties to exchange knowledge or technology, or to achieve a common objective based on the division of labour where the parties jointly define the scope of the collaborative project, contribute to its implementation and share its risks, as well as its results. One or several parties may bear the full costs of the project and thus relieve other parties of its financial risks. Contract research and provision of research services are not considered forms of collaboration. 
  • The Project Owner and the degree-conferring institution must enter into a written collaboration agreement. The process of writing a collaboration agreement must be underway, but not necessarily completed, by the time of grant application submission. The agreement must satisfy the Industrial PhD Scheme’s  requirements for collaboration agreements (see separate section below). The signed collaboration agreement is to be attached to the contract between the Research Council and the Project Owner. The Research Council will not enter into a contract with the Project Owner until the collaboration agreement is in place. 
  • The Project Owner and partners must jointly be able to provide the candidate with a satisfactory professional and scientific environment and adequate support and supervision for completing the doctoral project. This means that the candidate should be part of and receive support from the academic community at the degree-conferring institution, while also engaging with and receiving strong support from the Project Owner to complete the doctorate. A well-functioning academic environment should thus provide the candidate with an opportunity to combine theoretical knowledge and practical experience to achieve successful completion of the doctoral project. 
  • The candidate participating in the project must be designated at the time the grant application is submitted. Funding will not be granted to projects that do not specify a candidate’s name. 
  • The candidate is required to spend at least one year at the degree-conferring institution and at least one year at the company during the project period. This also applies if the degree-conferring institution is located outside Norway. Each stay may be carried out in stages as several shorter-term visits rather than over one continuous period. 

Requirements relating to the collaboration agreement 

The company and the degree-conferring institution must enter into a collaboration agreement that follows our general requirements for R&I-projects. The Industrial PhD Scheme stipulates the following requirements for collaboration agreements: 

  • The ownership of results and issues pertaining to intellectual property rights must be adequately clarified. The parties are to regulate the ownership and user rights of project results that have been produced by several parties in a collaborative effort. This must be regulated in a manner that ensures that the companies taking part in the consortium do not receive indirect state aid from participating research organisations. The regulation of ownership and user rights must therefore be in accordance with the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s guidelines for state aid for research and development and innovation Section 29.  
  • The names, roles, and employers of the supervisors from the degree-conferring institution and the company are to be specified. 
  • It must be specified that the candidate is to spend at least one year at the Project Owner and at least one year at a degree-conferring institution or at one or more. The time may be distributed in a manner that is most advantageous for the project. 
  • Requirements relating to the work duties on the part of the doctoral candidate must be clarified. This item may also be incorporated into a separate employment agreement between the candidate and the company. In the case of four-year projects, the site where the candidate is to carry out his or her work duties must be specified. 
  • Project funding and the distribution of project costs for each partner participating in the doctoral project must be provided. 

More information about collaboration agreements is available on the Research Council’s website. 

Requirements relating to collaboration with other actors 

The Industrial PhD Scheme primarily targets individual companies working in cooperation with a degree-conferring institution. If it is relevant to incorporate multiple actors in a project, this must be in accordance with the definition of “effective collaboration” in the state aid rules (see definition above). 

Industrial PhD Scheme projects involving the participation of other partners (in addition to the Project Owner and degree-conferring institution) must satisfy the following requirements in addition to the other requirements set out in the call:  

  • If other partners than the Project Owner and degree-conferring institution are to contribute funding, the Project Owner must contribute the largest proportion of project funding from partners except for the degree-conferring institution. This means that the portion of project costs not covered by the degree-conferring institution may be distributed among multiple partners, but the largest share must come from the Project Owner. 
  • Binding agreements must be signed between all the project partners. These agreements must clarify all relevant issues, including those pertaining to intellectual property rights, distribution of the project results and financial considerations. The Research Council stipulates that a single joint collaboration agreement must be signed for projects involving partners beyond the Project Owner and the degree-conferring institution. 

The Project Owner must have a plan for completing the project in the event that any partners withdraw from the project while it is underway. 

What can you seek funding for?

Under the Industrial PhD Scheme, the Research Council provides funding to cover eligible project costs directly related to completion of the doctoral project. Approved costs include: 

  • salary and personnel costs for the candidate 
  • salary and personnel costs for internal supervisors 
  • costs incurred by the degree-conferring institution (such as supervisory services and office space) 
  • costs incurred by collaboration partners  
  • other operating costs (laboratory experiments, purchase of literature, conference-related travel, etc.) 

Funding under the Industrial PhD Scheme will only be provided for project activity that is defined as “industrial research” and “fundamental research” under the state aid rules (see Articles for state aid from the Research Council of Norway).  

‘Industrial research’ means the planned research or critical investigation aimed at the acquisition of new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services or aimed at bringing about a significant improvement in existing products, processes or services, including digital products, processes or services, in any area, technology, industry or sector (including, but not limited to, digital industries and technologies, such as super-computing, quantum technologies, block chain technologies, artificial intelligence, cyber security, big data and cloud technologies).  

Industrial research comprises the creation of components parts of complex systems, and may include the construction of prototypes in a laboratory environment or in an environment with simulated interfaces to existing systems as well as of pilot lines, when necessary for the industrial research and notably for generic technology validation. 

‘Fundamental research’ means experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and observable facts, without any direct commercial application or use in view. 

Costs for other types of activities and measures to exploit R&D results, such as filing for patents, market surveys and marketing and testing and completion of new products and services are not approved for funding. Overarching R&D activities in the company that do not directly contribute to the progress of the project in terms of research, scientific objectives and the production of the final dissertation are not to be included in the budget. 

The Project Owner must set up a realistic budget in the grant application form showing all costs directly related to carrying out the doctoral project. The Research Council requires you to break down the project budget into the following cost categories: 

  • Payroll and indirect expenses. Salary and personnel costs for the company’s staff, including the candidate and internal supervisor, and salary and personnel costs for the degree-conferring institution. These costs are to be calculated based on hourly rates for each individual participating in the project. The basis used to calculate costs, i.e., the costs included in the hourly rate, is to be described in the application (in the specification field under the budget tables). Different rules apply for the calculation of hourly rates for company personnel and for staff at the degree-conferring institution. Please read and follow the guidelines carefully. 
  • Procurement of R&D services. costs related to the procurement of R&D services from a supplier such as laboratory activity, analyses, etc. See information relating to procurement here
  • Equipment. Please note that there are restrictions on which equipment costs may be included in the budget. It is important to read the guidelines carefully. See information relating to equipment here
  • Other operating expenses. costs related to purchase of literature, conference-related travel, other operating costs such as laboratory experiments, external advisers, etc. See information relating to other operating expenses here.  

Please visit the webpage What to enter in the project budget for more information. 

Calculating support 

The table below shows the maximum yearly and monthly amount of support to Industrial PhD Scheme projects in NOK. Funding is calculated monthly from the time of project start: 

 

2024 

2025 

2026 

2027 

2028 

2029 

Three-year projects 

656 000 

681 500 

707 000 

732 000 

759 000 

784 000 

Support per month 

55 000 

57 000 

59 000 

61 000 

63 000 

65 000 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four-year projects 

492 000 

511 000 

530 000 

549 000 

569 000 

588 000 

Support per month 

41 000 

43 000 

44 000 

46 000 

47 000 

49 000 

Funding will not be disbursed as a lump sum allocation and will be adjusted to reflect costs entered in the accounts. Funding may not exceed 50 per cent of total, approved project costs. This means that if the costs recorded in the project accounts are lower than budgeted, the Research Council’s disbursement will be reduced so that it will not exceed 50 per cent of project costs. 

The support is intended to cover salaries, social and indirect costs for the PhD candidate and internal supervisor/mentor, costs at the degree-granting institution, as well as other operational expenses in the project.  

The funding from the Research Council is disbursed as project support to the company, not as a personal grant to the candidate 

If your application is awarded funding, you should also note that: 

Tax deduction for R&D projects under SkatteFUNN 

Companies within all sectors and industries can apply to SkatteFUNN and with an approval get 19 per cent of the project costs as a tax deduction through the tax settlement. See the SkatteFUNN website for more information. It is possible to combine NPHD with SkatteFUNN. Read more about Incentive effect and combination of instruments (in Norwegian)

Funding for Research Stays Abroad  

Companies that are awarded funding under the Industrial PhD Scheme may also seek support for a research stay abroad for their doctoral candidate provided that the candidate is associated with a degree-conferring institution in Norway. See the separate Research Council call for proposals Funding for Research Stays Abroad for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows.

Relevant thematic areas for this call

The call for proposals is open for projects within all industrial sectors, but we encourage applicants to relate their applications to one or more of the tematic areas listed below:

Innovation

Trade and industry throughout the countryMaritime sectorICT security and cryptologyArtificial intelligence

Practical information

Requirements for this application type

You can edit and submit the application multiple times until the application deadline. We recommend that you submit the application as soon as you have filled out the application form and uploaded the mandatory attachments. When the application deadline expires, the version of the application that was last submitted will be processed. 

The application form 

  • The formal roles in the project, the Project Administrator and the Project Manager, are to be held by employees of the Project Owner and not by the candidate. 
    • The Project Administrator must be authorised to represent and sign on behalf of the company in connection with the doctoral project. The project administrator must approve the application prior to submission and must sign documents such as the contract and reports during the project period. 
    • The Project Manager is responsible for reporting to the Research Council of Norway and is the primary point of contact for the Industrial PhD Scheme. The Project Manager is responsible for the project’s progress as well. 
  • Project partners: Remember to list the degree-conferring institution and any other companies or institutions serving as partners in effective collaboration. The Project Owner and the Research Council may not be listed as partners. 
  • Main activities and milestones in the project period are to include:  
    • required and elective courses to be taken at the degree-conferring institution and any other university/university college 
    • a midterm evaluation at the degree-conferring institution 
    • milestones for the planned scientific articles 
    • submission of the candidate’s doctoral dissertation as the final milestone. The submission of the doctoral dissertation is considered to be completion of the project. The Research Council does not wait for the applicant’s dissertation defence since this may take time. 
  • In the specification field for the Cost Plan, you are to describe how you have arrived at the hourly rates for project participants and to indicate how many hours per year have been calculated per project participant. If you have used the maximum hourly rate allowed (NOK 1100) an explanation must be provided. 
  • Starting from 2024, a new requirement for project progress assessment has been introduced. To ensure a consistent and thorough follow-up, it is mandatory to conduct two progress meetings annually. These meetings are expected to include representatives from the project-leading organization (project manager and/or administrative personnel and internal supervisor), the degree-granting institution (primary supervisor), and the PhD candidate. As part of this new procedure, meeting minutes must be submitted to the Research Council no later than 14 days after the meeting. The meetings are designed to assess the project's development, address any challenges in the early stages, and ensure continuous communication with the Research Council regarding the project's progress.  

The application and all the attachments may be submitted in Norwegian or English. 

Attachments to the application 

The project description and other mandatory attachments must be filled in using the designated templates. You will find all templates at the bottom of this call for proposals. All attachments must be uploaded in PDF format. 

Parts of the application process are automated. Therefore, it is important that you use the templates below, and keep the header in the documents intact. 

Mandatory attachments when submitting the application form 

  1. project description of a maximum of 10 pages (use the standard template provided below) 
  2. information about the applicant and partners (use the standard template provided below) 
  3. confirmation of participation in a doctoral project (use the standard template provided below) 
  4. the candidate's CV. In the Industrial PhD Scheme we do not have a set template for CV, you can upload your own CV. We require only the candidate's CV. 
  5. declaration form for undertaking (to be uploaded under "Other items") (use the standard template provided below) 

Other attachments 

6. For applications for ICT security and cryptology only: confirmation of security clearance and authorisation (to be uploaded under "Other items") 

Please note that applications that do not meet the requirements will be rejected. 
Applications that do not contain mandatory attachments no. 1–5 will be rejected. 

All attachments to the application must be submitted along with the application. We do not accept attachments submitted after the application submission unless we have requested additional documentation. 

Please do not attach any documents other than those requested. Links to any websites or documents outside the application form or project description, as well as other attachments than those specified above, will not be reviewed. 

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.

Assessment criteria

Applications for this call will be processed administratively. Due to a limited budget, we anticipate more applications than available funds. The announcement and the processing of applications will therefore occur through the following steps: 

  • You can apply from 24 April to 5 June before 1:00 p.m., after which the call will be closed for applications.  
  • The sequence in which applications are processed is decided by means of randomisation (lottery draw).  
  • The applications will then be processed in the order of the draw until the available budget has been allocated.  

Within eight weeks after the deadline (5 June), the company will receive feedback regarding either a conditional approval of funding or rejection. Processing may take longer during holiday periods or if a very large number of applications have been received. Applicants will be notified via "My RCN Web". 

If the application is conditionally approved, applicants will receive a letter requesting additional information and revision of the grant application. The applicant will be asked to submit a revised grant application with a popular science summary presentation of the project as well as provide any clarifications or updates required. 

Usually, the deadline for submitting the revised application is three weeks. Applicants may request an extension of this if necessary.  

When requested additional information and application revisions has been approved for funding, we will await the formal letter of admission to the doctoral program. Subsequently, we will issue a contract that can be accessed via "My RCN Web". The signed collaboration agreement with the degree-conferring institution and, if applicable, other partners must be uploaded as attachments to the contract. The contract becomes valid after we have finally approved the submitted contract and attachment.  

Create application

Applications for Industrial PhD Scheme – Doctoral Projects in Industry 2024 should be created on My RCN Web. Application templates should be filled and uploaded in the application.

Create application

Messages at time of print 22 May 2024, 19:02 CEST

No global messages displayed at time of print.