Largest funding pot ever for innovation research in industry

It is also the first time that companies and other applicants will be able to submit project concepts prior to preparing a full grant proposal.

Boosting competitiveness

“We are looking to draw more attention to our role as a collaborative partner for trade and industry,” says Director General of the Research Council, Arvid Hallén.

“Norway’s competitiveness is completely dependent on our ability to cultivate a more knowledge-based business sector. This funding announcement – together with the ongoing submission of applications under the SkatteFUNN tax incentive scheme – is part of our effort to provide better service to our important partners and clients in the private sector,” he adds.

Photo: Sverre Jarild Arvid Hallén announces the Research Council’s largest funding initiative for trade and industry to date. (Photo: Sverre Jarild)

Common application deadline

Innovation Projects for the Industrial Sector are research and development projects that promote innovation and value creation in the participating companies and industry organisations. This year, the Research Council has established a common timeframe for virtually all of the funding announcements for innovation projects under the respective research programmes, with the same application deadline of 15 October for all of them.

The funding is available to companies, groups of companies and industry organisations, as a rule in cooperation with research groups.
The Research Council has launched a webpage for the funding announcements for NOK 850 million for Innovation Projects for the Industrial Sector (in Norwegian only). Here potential applicants can learn more about what an innovation project is, who is eligible to apply for funding and which calls for proposals are encompassed by the 15 October deadline. All of the individual calls will be published in both Norwegian and English well in advance of the application deadline.

Big push for BIA

A total of NOK 700 million in funding for innovation projects was announced last year. Much of the increase in 2014 is being made available under the Programme for User-driven Research-based Innovation (BIA). The BIA programme awards project funding to companies from all sectors and branches of industry. In 2014 the programme received an impressive budget increase of NOK 90 million from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.

Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland explains the budgetary boost: “We want to encourage more research and innovation in Norwegian trade and industry. The budget increase for the BIA programme is an important means of enhancing the innovation capacity of Norwegian companies. The programme will help us to develop dynamic industrial areas and new branches of industry. The aim is to create a research-oriented, innovative Norwegian business sector that can succeed in a globally competitive market.”

Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland sees the BIA programme as a means of boosting innovation capacity. Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland sees the BIA programme as a means of boosting innovation capacity.

The Director General also emphasises the importance of using research to stimulate innovation in trade and industry. “Expanding the reach of the BIA programme has therefore topped the Research Council’s list of priorities in recent years,” he says.

Simplifying access through project concepts

This year, for the first time, companies of all sizes in all branches of industry can take advantage of the Research Council’s new scheme for submission of project concepts. The Research Council will use these concepts to provide input on elements that are potentially critical for the project to succeed.

“We have introduced the submission of project concepts to help to steer the full grant proposals in the right direction,” explains Mr Hallén. “It is a step in simplifying access to the Research Council.”

Companies and other actors that have submitted project concepts will receive feedback from the Research Council on whether the project is qualified for support, the programme under which funding may be sought and whether there are other support schemes that would be more suitable for the project, such as the SkatteFUNN scheme or Industrial Ph.D. scheme.

A project concept description may be two to three pages long, while a full project proposal will generally be 10–15 pages long.

Project outlines –between concept and complete application

Applicants for BIA funding may also use the alternative of submitting project outlines, which are somewhere between a project concept and a complete grant application. Companies may submit project outlines to the Research Council from 16 June through 3 September, when the Council opens for submission of complete applications for the October deadline.
Submission of project outlines is not mandatory, but this alternative offers applicants the opportunity to receive more concrete guidance regarding their project. 

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