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NOK 450 million in funding for innovation projects

The Research Council of Norway is working to convince Norwegian companies to increase their R&D investment. This autumn’s call for proposals under the Programme for User-driven Research-based Innovation (BIA) is the largest ever of its kind; NOK 450 million in funding over a four-year period is being made available for innovation projects.

The Research Council’s Programme for User-driven Research-based Innovation (BIA) provides funding for projects targeted towards the development of new and better products, processes and services, thereby promoting growth and value creation in trade and industry.


Growth and decline

A report issued by Statistics Norway and the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) indicates that there was a clear rise in the level of R&D investment by Norwegian trade and industry up until 2008, followed by a decline both in 2009 and 2010.

Anne Kjersti Fahlvik Photo: Sverre Jarild Anne Kjersti Fahlvik (Photo: Sverre Jarild) “Given the latest negative figures this call for proposals is particularly important,” says Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Executive Director of the Research Council’s Division for Innovation.

More projects than funding

Under the BIA programme, Research Council funding is awarded to the highest quality innovation projects regardless of the branch of industry. Only projects that fall within areas encompassed by the Council’s thematically oriented programmes are not eligible to apply. It is the companies themselves that choose the topic they want to research, and only the very best grant applications are successful.

Previous calls for proposals for innovation projects under the BIA programme have shown that the number of good projects Norwegian companies have on their agenda far exceeds what can be financed with public funds. Under the last call for proposals, a total of 342 project outlines were received, 140 complete project proposals were assessed, and 35 were awarded funding.

Project outlines lead to better proposals

Astrid Brenna Astrid Brenna The BIA programme has introduced a system allowing applicants to submit a project outline before the final call for proposals is issued. This has yielded excellent results. In the last application round, some 89 per cent of the best qualified projects came from applicants who had submitted project outlines.

“In the current application round project outlines may be submitted from 15 November 2011 to 5 January 2012. We encourage potential applicants to submit short project outlines using our standardised template. The project outlines will provide a good basis for dialogue between the Research Council and the applicants up until the final application deadline for innovation projects on 15 February,” states Astrid Brenna, programme coordinator for the BIA programme.

Satisfied applicants

The ski manufacturer Madshus AS is among the applicants that have benefitted from submitting a project outline. The ski manufacturer Madshus AS is among the applicants that have benefitted from submitting a project outline. Many applicants have found it beneficial to submit a project outline for assessment before drawing up a complete application. One of them is the ski manufacturer Madshus AS.

“The application process was quite intense at times. In such a formal process it is easy to go off track and over-embellish the application, for example, by including lofty visions for the research. For us it was important to keep the project at a level that we could stand behind 100 per cent. The feedback we received on our project outline gave us, and the research institution we were applying with, a good basis on which to draw up our final application,” states Bjørn Ivar Austrem, Category Manager at Madshus.

Written by:
Andreas B. Johansen/Else Lie. Translation: Anna Godson/Carol B. Eckmann
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