For assistance please call
+47 905 51 520
or send an e-mail to
support@nordforsk.org

Call: NCoE "Advancing the bioeconomy transition in the Nordic region" (1)


The submission deadline for this call has passed
Application deadline
16.03.2016 14:00
Full call title

Pre-proposals for Nordic Centres of Excellence: "Advancing the bioeconomy transition in the Nordic region"

Background

The Nordic Bioeconomy Programme is a collaborative effort between Finland (The Academy of Finland), Iceland (The Icelandic Centre for Research Rannís), Norway (The Research Council of Norway), Sweden (The Swedish Research Council Formas; final decision to participate still pending) and NordForsk. The Swedish Research Council Formas' final decision to participate in the program is still pending. However, Swedish research institutions are eligible as host institution (project manager) on the same conditions as applicants from the other three financing countries.

The overall aim of the programme is to produce new knowledge on how to foster and advance the transition to a bioeconomy-based society in the Nordic countries by integrating research, innovation and entrepreneurship in the private and public sectors. The programme will fund activities that are cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary, and that involve the private and public sector and other stakeholders. The thematic framework of the programme is described below.

As a Nordic platform, the programme will build on the national programmes and bring Nordic added value to the national and international research and innovation activities. The Nordic approach will advance the bioeconomy transition in a holistic way. This will give new insight into how research and innovation can jointly add momentum to bio-based and sustainable societal development.

Characteristics of a Nordic Centre of Excellence (NCoE)

A Nordic Centre of Excellence (NCoE) is a collaboration that builds upon already existing national and international excellence and joins Nordic researchers at the forefront of their fields to promote excellence at the Nordic level. It is a high-visibility collaboration that seeks to have an international and Nordic impact on research and society.

An NCoE is a research environment with a common research plan and joint researcher training, management, communication and outreach activities. An NCoE facilitates efficient use of resources by gathering people, funding and infrastructure into collaborative entities. An NCoE may include participants from non-Nordic research groups to fulfil the goals of the centre.

Applicants should consult the NCoE concept document, (Annex 1).

Thematic framework

The Nordic region is unique in that it has a surplus of primary resources. Primary resources will become an even more important asset in the Nordic society of the future, which involves a transformation from economic growth based on fossil fuels (depletable resources) towards a sustainable and bio-based society that promotes both the well-being of its citizens and good conditions for innovation and new development. The development of new knowledge is at the core of the Nordic Bioeconomy Programme. Basic building blocks are research, innovation and entrepreneurship, with active involvement from the private and public sectors, industry, consumers, end-users and others.

The call is relevant for all sectors (e.g. agriculture, forestry, marine, food and other) in the bioeconomy, but with an emphasis on new and innovative areas of research and innovation in order to understand the bioeconomy transition in a holistic perspective. In this call water is a common denominator and can be either the research subject or an integral part of the proposal, but does not have to be the main theme.

Water is a fundamental part of the bioeconomy and bioproduction value chains, e.g. in water-based production, the role of water in transportation, water as a means for primary plant production, water in industrial processes and for social well-being. This is also evidenced in the integrated management of water resources, know-how about sustainable water circulation, quality of water, and ecosystem services provided. Framework conditions for how a transition will take place, political obstacles and incentives, new legislation and ethics are also among topics of interest as part of an integrated approach. Market aspects to promote competitiveness, new products, production methods, markets and production chains based on the sustainable use of water are of importance.

The thematic framework is further elaborated in the programme memorandum, please consult Annex 2.

Financial framework

The programme has a total budget of NOK 90 million and aims to fund three Nordic Centres of Excellence (NCoEs) under this call. The NCoEs will be funded for a five-year period and will be launched during 2017.

Funds can be used for:

  • Administrative expenses for NCoE management (normally a full-time position);
  • PhD and postdoctoral positions;
  • Travel and mobility;
  • Salaries;
  • Travel and lodging for international participants;
  • Communication and dissemination.

The consortium is expected to contribute significant own financing in addition to the NordForsk funding. The contribution from the consortium partners must be documented in the application and in the reporting from the NCoE.

Eligibility criteria

The consortium must involve partner institutions from at least three of the funding countries (Finland including Åland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden). Partner institutions from Denmark including the Faroe Islands and Greenland are eligible to participate. Partner institutions from non-Nordic countries must fund their own participation. The host institution for the NCoE (project manager) must be a research institution based in one of the funding countries.

The Swedish Research Council Formas' final decision to participate in the program is still pending. However, Swedish research institutions are eligible as host institution (project manager) on the same conditions as applicants from the other three financing countries.

The project leader of the consortium must be a senior researcher at the host institution.

A researcher can only be project leader for one consortium.

Proposals must be submitted in English through the NordForsk Call and Application Portal to be accepted.

Processing of proposals

This is a two phase call. NordForsk's Guidelines on Impartiality is used to handle possible conflicts of interest.

Phase 1 applications

Applicants must submit phase 1 proposals electronically through the NordForsk application portal no later than 14.00 CET on 16 March 2016. To access the application form you must register as a user at the NordForsk Call and Application Portal.

International experts will assess the phase 1 proposals using the phase 1 assessment criteria below. The programme committee, comprising representatives from the funding partners, will assess the relevance to the call and the Nordic added value. Based upon this, the programme committee will then recommend to NordForsk which phase 1 applicants to invite to phase 2. The number of proposals invited to compete in phase 2 will be approximately three times the projected number of NCoEs to be funded.

Phase 2 applications (by invitation only)

The invited applicants must submit a full proposal electronically through the NordForsk Call and Application Portal no later than 14.00 CEST on 7 September 2016.

An international expert panel will assess the phase 2 proposals. In addition, the programme committee will assess the relevance to the call, the Nordic added value and the overall strategic value of the proposals. All phase 2 proposals will receive a joint written statement from the international expert panel.

The NordForsk Board will take the final decision on funding of the proposals in late 2016 or in the first quarter of 2017 at the latest, based on the recommendations of the international expert panel and the programme committee.

NordForsk will initiate contract negotiations on the selected proposals with their host organisations.

Assessment criteria

Phase 1 applications

International experts will assess the phase 1 proposals according to the following criteria:

  • Research and innovation idea and originality;
  • Demonstrated interdisciplinary research (understood as interfaculty research);
  • Competence of the project leader and key researchers;
  • If relevant to the research and innovation idea, cross-sectoral involvement (private and/or public sector and other research and innovation actors).

The programme committee will assess the relevance to the call and the Nordic added value of the proposals.

Phase 2 applications (by invitation only)

An international expert panel will assess the phase 2 proposals according to the following criteria:

  • Scientific quality, including originality and novelty of research;
  • Relevance to the call;
  • Competence of the project leader and the consortium;
  • Research plan (including a specified budget) and feasibility;
  • Demonstrated interdisciplinary research (understood as interfaculty research);
  • If relevant cross-sectoral involvement (private and/or public sectors and other research and innovation actors);
  • Expected results and impact of the planned NCoE.

In addition, the application must include:

The programme committee will assess the Nordic added value and the overall strategic value of the proposals.

Monitoring of the NCoEs

NordForsk is responsible for the administrative follow-up of the NCoEs.

NordForsk negotiates and signs the contracts with the NCoE host institutions. A consortium agreement regulates the relations between the NCoE host institution and the other institutions involved in the individual NCoE.

The NCoEs are monitored through annual reporting consisting of a scientific progress report and a financial report. NordForsk will fund the NCoEs on a yearly basis based on the recommendations from the programme committee.

NordForsk will appoint one international Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) with core competence in the thematic areas of the NCoEs. The SAB will advice the Programme Committee regarding the scientific progress of the NCoEs.

After three years of operation, NordForsk will undertake a midterm evaluation of the NCoEs to determine whether to allocate the last two years of funding. A final evaluation is conducted at the end of the funding period.

Responsible adviser

Unni Rørslett, Senior Adviser
E-mail: Unni.Rorslett@nordforsk.org
Phone: +47 906 86 141

Responsible adviser

Marianne Aastebøl Minge, Senior Adviser
E-mail: Marianne.Minge@nordforsk.org
Phone: +47 936 02 527

Technical support

E-mail: support@nordforsk.org / Phone:+47 905 51 520

Max amount that may be sought (NOK) per NCoE

NOK 30 million over a five-year period.

Appendix
NordForsk, Stensberggata 25, 0170 Oslo, Tlf: +47 476 14 400, E-post: support@nordforsk.org, Organisasjonsnummer: 971 274 255