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Frequently asked questions

This page provides answers to the most frequently asked questions in connection with grant applications under the Industrial Ph.D. scheme. If your company is planning to apply for funding under the Industrial Ph.D. scheme, please read the information below carefully and contact the secretariat before submitting an application.

The Industrial Ph.D. scheme in general
Are grant proposals under the Industrial Ph.D. scheme confined to particular thematic areas? 
When may I start the project?
Is a three-year project period the only option? 
Is it possible for one company to receive funding for more than one project? 
Must the candidate be permanently employed by the company? 
May sole proprietorships apply for funding? 
Must the stay at the degree-conferring institution be a full uninterrupted year? 
May I complete a doctoral degree programme at an institution abroad?

Who are the personnel in an Industrial Ph.D. project?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Application
What does the application process involve?
How do I submit an application? 
Must the candidate’s admission to a doctoral programme be confirmed before I can submit an application? 
Must the collaboration agreement between the degree-conferring institution and the company be signed before I can submit an application?
What are the criteria used to assess the scientific merit of the grant proposals?
Does the company supervisor have to have a doctoral degree? 
Can the application be written in English?

 

Funding and costs
What is the maximum amount of funding awarded?
May I apply for additional funding for laboratory testing? 
How should project costs be calculated under the Industrial Ph.D. scheme?
How are costs at the degree-conferring institution calculated?
Who covers the costs at the degree-conferring institution?

 

Project follow-up and completion
How often must the Project Owner submit reports to the Research Council? 
How is the grant disbursed by the Research Council?
What happens if the doctoral project is delayed? 

 


 

The Industrial Ph.D. scheme in general

 

Are grant proposals under the Industrial Ph.D. scheme confined to particular thematic areas?

There are no limitations on thematic areas for projects under the Industrial Ph.D. scheme. The scheme is open to all subject areas and sectors.

The Industrial Ph.D. scheme accepts grant applications from trade and industry, i.e. companies engaged in market-oriented activities. Enterprises that are publicly funded, carry out administrative tasks for the state or municipal authorities or produce goods for their own consumption will normally not be eligible to seek funding. The same applies to associations and other organisations with aims other than commercial value creation. Applicant companies must be registered in the Registry of Business Enterprises and carry out activities in Norway. 


When may I start the project?

Projects that are already underway are not eligible to receive funding, i.e. the doctoral candidate may not have undertaken any educational or research-relevant activity for the project before the grant application has been submitted. This means that the earliest permitted start-up date is the date of submission of the grant application. The contract with the Research Council cannot be signed until the application has been assessed and approved and all mandatory attachments have been received and approved. Companies that initiate project activity after submission of the application and prior to signing a contract do so at their own risk.


Is a three-year project period the only option?

Projects may have a duration of three or four years. In four-year projects the doctoral candidate must dedicate 75 per cent of his/her time to completing the Ph.D. degree, and 25 per cent to other tasks at the company. Grant applications will not be accepted for projects with a duration of less than three or more than four years. The candidate must dedicate a total of 36 months of research time towards his/her degree.


Is it possible for one company to receive funding for more than one project?

A single company can receive funding for a maximum of two new projects per calendar year. I.e. a company may start two Industrial Ph.D. projects per year.


Must the candidate be permanently employed by the company?

The doctoral candidate may either have a permanent position in the company or a project-based contract. However, the candidate must be employed by the applicant company during the entire project period. Companies should therefore at the earliest possible date draw up a plan for completing the project in the event of any delay.


May sole proprietorships apply for funding?

Sole proprietorships or limited (“AS”) companies with only one employee are not eligible to apply for funding.


Must the stay at the degree-conferring institution be a full uninterrupted year?

The year spent at the degree-conferring institution may be broken up into shorter segments during the course of the project period if this is most beneficial for the project. The time distribution must be determined through dialogue between the degree-conferring institution, the doctoral candidate and the company (Project Owner). However, the candidate is required to spend a total of minimum one year at the degree-conferring institution and the company, respectively. The candidate must work on the premises of the degree-conferring institution and the company, i.e. he/she must have office space at both places.


May I complete a doctoral degree programme at an institution abroad?

The company may carry out the project in cooperation with a degree-conferring institution abroad. In such cases, the doctoral candidate must spend at least one year at that institution. In addition, at least one year must be spent at the applicant company, which must be registered in the Registry of Business Enterprises and carry out activities in Norway. The application must include documentation that the degree programme is of equal standard to a Norwegian doctoral degree programme.


Who are the personnel in an Industrial Ph.D. project?

In addition to the doctoral candidate, all Industrial Ph.D. projects must have a project administrator and a project manager. These roles must be filled by employees of the applicant company other than the candidate.

The project administrator must be authorised to represent and assume obligations on behalf of the company in connection with the Industrial Ph.D. project. The project administrator must approve the application prior to submission and must sign the contract and project accounting reports.

The project manager is responsible for reporting to the Research Council of Norway and is the primary point of contact for the Industrial Ph.D. scheme. The project manager is additionally responsible for the project’s progress. In many projects the candidate’s supervisor at the company also serves as project manager.

 

 

Application

 

What does the application process involve?

The Industrial Ph.D. scheme has an open-ended application submission deadline, i.e. applications may be submitted at any time during the year. It is recommended that applicants submit their applications well in advance of project start-up (at least one month). Grant applications may be submitted before final confirmation of admission to a doctoral degree programme has been received or a collaboration agreement has been signed, but applicants must submit documentation that these processes are underway. 

All applicants are encouraged to contact the secretariat of the Industrial Ph.D. scheme before preparing an application. It normally takes the secretariat two to three weeks to process an application once it has been received. All applicants whose project proposals meet the scheme’s requirements will subsequently have the opportunity to revise their applications. If the revised application is satisfactory and all mandatory attachments have been submitted and approved, a contract can be signed. The time the process takes from application submission until a contract is signed varies and is largely dependent on the applicant’s follow up. Applicants are therefore encouraged to draw up a plan for following up the application once it has been submitted.


How do I submit an application?

A grant application consists of the completed electronic application form and up to four mandatory attachments:

  • A project description of maximum 10 pages. The designated project description template must be used and all items completed.
  • A draft or signed binding collaboration agreement with the degree-conferring institution (and with any other partners). The agreement does not have to be finalised at the time of submission of the grant application and may be forwarded via email at a later date.
  • Documentation of the candidate’s admission to a doctoral degree programme or that the admission process is underway. Admission to the programme does not have to be confirmed at the time of submission of the grant application and may be forwarded via email at a later date.
  • The CV of the proposed candidate.

To create an application, go to the call for proposals and click on “Choose” next to “Funding for companies with employees seeking to pursue a doctoral degree”. Read through the information carefully then click on “Choose” next to “Other support”. In order to click on “Create new application”, applicants must confirm that they have read and accepted the conditions of the call by ticking the box.


Must the candidate’s admission to a doctoral programme be confirmed before I can submit an application?

No, but it must be confirmed in the application that the admission process is underway. This may be documented in the form of a letter from the degree-conferring institution, for example.


Must the collaboration agreement between the degree-conferring institution and the company be signed before I can submit an application?

All companies seeking funding under the Industrial Ph.D. scheme must enter into a binding collaboration agreement with a degree-conferring institution. The final agreement does not have to be signed before submitting an application, but the process of drafting the agreement must be underway. Companies are therefore recommended to enter into dialogue with the degree-conferring institution well in advance of submitting an application to the Research Council.

The collaboration agreement must as a minimum include the following items:

  • The agreement must be valid for the entire project period.
  • Issues pertaining to intellectual property rights must be adequately clarified.
  • The supervisors from the company (company supervisor/company mentor) and the degree-conferring institution, respectively, must be specified by name and their roles must be described.
  • Issues pertaining to the candidate’s right to publish the results of his/her research and present them in his/her thesis must be adequately clarified.
  • The candidate must spend at least one year at the applicant company and degree-conferring institution, respectively. The time may be distributed in a manner that is most beneficial for the project.
  • If the project involves work duties on the part of the candidate, these must be adequately clarified. This item may also be incorporated into a separate employment agreement between the candidate and the company.
  • The agreement must be signed by a person who is formally authorised to assume obligations on behalf of the degree-conferring institution at the faculty or departmental level and a representative of the company who is formally authorised to assume obligations on behalf of the company.


What are the criteria used to assess the scientific merit of the grant proposals?

The degree-conferring institution is the guarantor that the doctoral research project is of adequate scientific merit. Therefore, the Research Council will not carry out a separate assessment of the scientific merit of Industrial Ph.D. project proposals.


Does the company supervisor have to have a doctoral degree?

No. An employee at the applicant company who does not have a doctoral degree may serve as a mentor. However, the applicant must document that the mentor possesses the relevant competency for the project and is capable of providing the candidate with the necessary professional support. The company may also procure supervisory services from another organisation.

For projects in which supervision within the company is provided by a mentor without a doctoral degree, the degree-conferring institution will often appoint two academic supervisors. Supervision within the company should therefore be discussed with the degree-conferring institution at the earliest possible date to determine jointly whether the company supervision of the candidate will be acceptable.


Can the application be written in English?

Grant applications and all attachments may be submitted in Norwegian or English.


 

Funding and costs

 

What is the maximum amount of funding awarded?

The following rates indicate the maximum funding a project may seek per year (in NOK):

Year 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
3-year project 533.500 547.500 562.500 578.000 593.500
4-year project 400.125 410.625 421.875 433.500 445.125



Funding may not exceed 50 per cent of total project costs.

Allocations are based on the number of person-months spent on a project. For example, if project start-up is on 1 August the funding allocated will be 5/12 of the year’s rate. Funding under the Industrial Ph.D. scheme is awarded as project support to the company, not as a personal grant to the doctoral candidate.


May I apply for additional funding for laboratory testing?

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may apply for up to NOK 600 000 in funding to cover additional costs related to laboratory testing. Funding is limited to 50 per cent of the approved laboratory costs. 

Companies seeking funding for laboratory testing must specify the relevant costs in the table for Funding to cover additional costs related to laboratory testing in the project description template. Funding may be sought only to cover additional costs related to operating expenses/consumables, and not for procurement of equipment with reuse value outside the project.

According to the European Commission’s definition, an SME is a company with up to 250 employees and an annual turnover of maximum EUR 50 million and/or an annual balance sheet total of maximum EUR 43 million. Thus most Norwegian companies qualify as an SME. An SME may be partly owned by a larger enterprise or group of enterprises provided that the ownership share does not exceed 25 per cent.


How should project costs be calculated under the Industrial Ph.D. scheme?

Payroll and indirect expenses
The Research Council has drawn up specific guidelines for calculating payroll and indirect expenses. An hourly rate must be calculated for each project participant at the applicant company, i.e. the candidate, the company supervisor and any other employees participating in the doctoral project.

  • The hourly rate is calculated on the basis of nominal annual salary, with a maximum rate of .0012 of the nominal annual salary.
  • The rate may not exceed NOK 1 100/hour.
  • The number of project hours for each participant per year may not exceed 1 850. A normal working year including holidays will under certain circumstances amount to fewer hours, depending on the number of hours the company defines to constitute a person-year .

Equipment
Enter the following costs under the item “Equipment”:

  1. Project-relevant equipment (with a procurement value below NOK 100 000) with no reuse value outside the project and which is necessary for completing the project.
  2. Depreciation costs for project-relevant equipment with a procurement value exceeding NOK 100 000.
  3. Equipment which is used for other purposes outside the project and/or has reuse value beyond the project period (with a procurement value below NOK 100 000) is considered covered under the item “Payroll and indirect expenses” and must not be included in the budget.

Please see the Research Council’s guidelines for depreciation of equipment for more information.

Procurement of R&D services and Oher operating expenses
All costs invoiced to the company by Norwegian and international universities, university colleges and research institutes must be included under “Procurement of R&D services”.

Other costs, e.g. travel expenses and costs related to conference participation, must be included under “Other operating expenses”.


How are costs at the degree-conferring institution calculated?

In its recommendations (in Norwegian), the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions advises including the following costs associated with the degree-conferring institution in the budget for an Industrial Ph.D. project:

  • Costs related to the academic supervisor (approx. 75 hours per year for a three-year project).
  • Indirect costs, e.g. costs for office space and support services (library, IT, administration, etc.), for a period of at least one year in connection with the stay required under the Industrial Ph.D. scheme. These costs are to be calculated based on the institution’s rates for indirect costs, which are part of the Norwegian TDI model (common full costing methodology).
  • Any costs for research infrastructure resources (RIR) such as use of laboratories and equipment.


Who covers the costs at the degree-conferring institution?

Industrial Ph.D. projects can be classified as collaborative R&D projects in which both the industrial partner and the academic partner may contribute resources. Therefore, the degree-conferring institution may contribute its own financing to the project. The research institution’s own financing will be subject to negotiation between the degree-conferring institution and the company for each project, and will be dependent on the financial resources each party has at its disposal. The Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions recommends the following distribution of costs:

  • The degree-conferring institution covers the costs related to the academic supervisor as part of the supervisor’s time designated for research.
  • Indirect costs can be distributed between the degree-conferring institution and the company according to a simple distribution key (in percentage).
  • The company covers any costs for research infrastructure resources (RIR).

All other project costs, including e.g. the candidate’s salary and operating expenses, are to be covered by the company.


 

Project follow-up and completion

 

How often must the Project Owner submit reports to the Research Council?

Two types of reports must be submitted each year:

  • A progress report must be submitted by 1 December of each year.
    The progress report must provide information regarding the progression of the project and explain any deviations from the contract with the Research Council.
  • A project account report must be submitted by 20 January of each year.
    This report must specify the total actual project costs and total project funding for the entire previous year.

Significant deviations must be reported on an ongoing basis. Relevant examples include leaves of absence, extended sick leave, delays, and changes in project partners or the roles of project personnel.

In addition to the ongoing reporting, a final report must be submitted by at the latest one month after the project has been completed, i.e. one month after the doctoral thesis has been delivered and approved by the supervisors.

Please see the general information on project follow-up and reporting on the Research Council website.


How is the grant disbursed by the Research Council?

Funds will not be disbursed until the contract between the Project Owner and the Research Council has been signed, and the Project Owner has submitted payment information to the Research Council. In addition, a “trial” project account report must be submitted and approved. Funds will be disbursed automatically at four-month intervals provided that no project reports are outstanding and no changes to the contract have been made.

The funds for the first four-month period, i.e. one-third of the annual allocation, will be disbursed in April and the funds for the second four-month period in July. The final disbursement of the year will be withheld until the project account report for the previous year has been approved. Upon project completion, the remainder of the grant will be disbursed after the final report has been submitted and approved.


What happens if the doctoral project is delayed?

Any delays must be reported to the Research Council immediately. The secretariat of the Industrial Ph.D. scheme may consider extending the contract period. However, if an extension is granted, the final third of the final year’s allocation will be withheld until the final report has been approved. An extension of the project period requires that the degree-conferring institution agrees to the extension and that the company has a plan for completing the project. The candidate is required to be employed by the company (Project Owner) during the entire project period.

Published:
12.09.2016
Last updated:
07.05.2018