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Call for proposals: Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity

Call for proposals Deadline 04.04.2024

Through this call for proposals, we are looking for 2-4 projects where connectivity and data sharing can contribute to speeding up the transition to sustainable mobility.

Deadline for application4. April 2024
Deadline for submitting questions30. January 2024
Funding decision20. May 2024
BudgetNOK 12 million
Starting dateSummer 2024
Project durationUp to 36 months
QuestionsSee the FAQ

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Call for proposals background

Smart Connectivity is one of eight initiatives launched by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2021. The initiative is a concrete contribution towards the Nordic governments’ joint Vision 2030, which states that the Nordic region should become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030.

Furthermore, the Smart Connectivity initiative is part of Nordic Innovation’s Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity program and aims at supporting Nordic companies in becoming leaders in smart connectivity and data sharing for sustainable mobility.

Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity contributes to speeding up the transition to sustainable mobility in the Nordic region and to changing the way people and goods move through collaborative innovation. The programme builds on two main focus areas:

  • Individual level: Seamless, integrated and people-centric mobility. Objective: To enhance quality of life, accessibility, flexibility and create value for people. To reduce – and in the long-term perspective eliminate – the negative effects of today’s mobility systems.
  • Societal level: Sustainable, secure, energy-efficient and decarbonised mobility. Objective: To reduce – and in the long-term perspective eliminate - the negative effects of today’s mobility systems on the environment and the climate.

Within this framework, Nordic Innovation’s Smart Connectivity initiative sets out to facilitate innovation and transformation within the mobility and logistics sectors, and to reach the overall objectives mentioned above through increased data sharing, within and across national borders. Smart Connectivity is thus about releasing the potential of data in the transition to sustainable mobility while strengthening the competitiveness of Nordic companies.

Read more about the Smart Connectivity program

The overall purpose of the Smart Connectivity initiative is to establish the Nordic region as a frontrunner in sustainable mobility and transport. In this context ‘smart connectivity’ is defined as the ability to digitally share operational data in a mobility system.

More specifically, the aim is to:

  1. Make it easier for Nordic mobility companies and other public and private stakeholders to share data, as data sharing could contribute to optimising operations and to a more climate-efficient and profitable mobility and logistics sector.
  2. To realise a viable business case and to act on opportunities which could strengthen the competitiveness of the Nordic region while accelerating the transition to sustainable mobility.
  3. To support the implementation of successful pilots/projects that are mature but have yet to be realised.

Available funding

Total budget: 12 million NOK.

  • Track 1: Projects targeting one of the two topics described in this call text may apply for funding for up to 5 MNOK.
  • Track 2: Projects targeting the establishment of long-term collaboration structures for data sharing and scaling of smart connectivity solutions may apply for funding for up to 1 MNOK. Applicants may apply for both grants simultaneously.

The funding will be given in the form of a grant that covers maximum 50 % of total project costs. Total number of projects to be funded: 2-4 projects. Project duration: Maximum 36 months.

About Smart Connectivity and thematic scope of the call

Larger context and systemic innovation

Smart connectivity within mobility and logistics is a complex and systemic challenge. Connectivity solutions are nestled in and dependent on many “layers”. It is not just about data. Furthermore, to succeed in scaling into the market, the innovation process must address not only data and technology, but also include areas such as city planning, infrastructure, regulations, semantics, business models, as well as people centricity and mindset. 

As discussed in the “Nordic Smart Connectivity - current state” report, projects and pilots seem to fail due to a somewhat “one-sided” focus on data and technology instead of being use case-focused and addressing the complexity mentioned above. 

To handle complexity in smart connectivity projects, there is a need to adopt systemic innovation principles and address the challenges in an ecosystem of relevant actors, spanning from businesses, industry representatives and academic institutions, to multi-level governmental actors and other relevant stakeholders.

Innovating in complexity means that there is a need to explore, experiment, test, and demonstrate value in every step of the innovation process, using an iterative approach. Starting as simple as possible and adding more complexity to the project as it evolves is often recommended. More importantly, stakeholders representing the layers of complexity should be part of the innovation process to ensure a successful project and to lay the foundation for scaling.

Furthermore, it is recommended that the project management adopts systemic leadership principles:

  1. zoom out to understand the full complexity and
  2. zoom in to ensure progress in the innovation project itself

The “zooming out” will allow the project management to identify barriers in the overall system, as well as to identify “pockets of change” that can act as drivers for the project.

The systemic approach calls for strategic orchestration - a “rig” supporting the establishment of long-term collaboration structures in a mobility ecosystem for data sharing, operating within an innovation framework of joint objectives, visions, and actions.

Regulation as a key driver for innovation

There has been a myriad of regulations, mappings and gathering of different data sources and their properties in the last two decades. There seems to be a common understanding that even though several European legislative and non-legislative initiatives have been introduced in this period, the potential of data has not yet been realised. The PrepDSpace4Mobility report “Towards a common European mobility data space Perspectives, recommendations and building blocks” on topics regarding the European Mobility Data Space, points to several possible reasons:

  • Data source gaps and overlaps
  • Business and funding models
  • Governance framework
  • Legal considerations
  • Technical grounding
  • Data interoperability
  • Data sovereignty and trust
  • Data value creation capabilities

Most of the legal framework and the initiatives that form the basis for the governance of data, stem from international regulation with the intention of creating a clear, coordinated, and common starting point for all stakeholders. The full potential of data has yet to be seen, as the implementation of both legislative and non-legislative initiatives often turn out to be sub-optimally coordinated (see the Nordic Smart Connectivity – current state report). This sub-optimalisation can create barriers at technical, semantic, administrative, and legal levels. Nordic Smart Connectivity can be fully advanced only when national, Nordic and European data can form the basis for innovation.

Regulation may drive innovation, and the role of public procurers may play an important role in driving change.

Thematic scope

Through this call for proposals, we are looking for projects that have the potential to create high impact and substantial Nordic added value, and where connectivity and data sharing can contribute to speeding up the transition to sustainable mobility. We seek Nordic smart connectivity projects that bolster added value and spark innovation by combining and building on Nordic strongholds, existing or new solutions. Applicants should note that projects should contribute to the joint Nordic Vision of making the Nordics the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030.

This call for proposals covers two topics that reflect the two main focus areas of the programme

  • Seamless, integrated and people-centric mobility, or
  • Sustainable, secure, energy-efficient, and decarbonised logistics/freight transport

The topics may overlap, but applicants should state the main focus of their project in the application.

Alternatively, or in combination with the above, applicants may apply for funding for the following:

  • The establishment of a long-term collaboration platform (“rig”) that should be organised as an innovation ecosystem based on a use case (real challenge). The ecosystem should support scaling of smart connectivity solutions in the Nordic region both for this use case and in the future.

All projects should ensure collaboration and alignment with other relevant projects, regulations, and initiatives. For a more in-depth look at the current state of mobility, see the Nordic Smart Connectivity - Current State report.

Topic 1: seamless, integrated and people-centric mobility

Cars account for 40% of all transport related greenhouse gas emissions in the EU (2019). In addition, a car-centric worldview has left a mark on how we plan the development of our cities and our regions. Electrification is not sufficient; we need to grow the share of public and/or shared mobility services.

To do so, mobility services must answer to the needs of Nordic mobility users. Users need to be able to understand how to book and purchase services, make sense of routes, costs, and features of the journeys, and to have access to services that are affordable and respond to a diversity of contexts. Multimodal, connected, and seamless mobility services spanning the Nordics would enable better choices for citizens, and ultimately better social, economic, and environmental outcomes. To achieve this, data plays a crucial role.

Various EU level regulations outline what is needed, but the potential is still untapped, possibly due to non-coordinated implementation or governance of said regulations and other non-legislative initiatives, e.g., on establishing data spaces and standards. In terms of connectivity, efforts are needed to move towards integrating the region in a connected, seamless experience of personal mobility.

A vision for the future of mobility

In the future, people in the Nordics will choose public and other forms of shared mobility options. We have reduced transport poverty and increased access in both urban and rural areas. The environmental footprint of the sector is not only kept in check, but regenerative technologies and policies have been operationalised. Users of mobility services are used to multimodal journeys, and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) as a concept is well-established and cherished, trusted and hence widely used by citizens.

Achieving this has been made possible by developing a Nordic model for mobility data-sharing and connectivity. Data is used to provide seamless services between operators, to optimize the system’s operation, and to nudge users to make better choices. The data has been coordinated, both in terms of semantics, legal and technical ways, and the governance of the data is joint Nordic.

One of the success stories of this transformation was how the Nordics worked together, by taking advantage of the many data-sharing initiatives which were already in place. Working together, this diverse and collaborative ecosystem of stakeholders including mobility data for public transport authorities (PTAs), data aggregators, service providers, public actors, among others – has been able to find common ground in a clear vision of how to tackle a Nordic-wide data-sharing platform and demonstrated how this could be done with real use-cases. Today, this ecosystem lives on, making sure that new data and connectivity needs are met so that new mobility services can have maximum impact.

The Nordic model has been a success story and has been deployed/exported to Europe and other parts of the world, generating business and jobs.

Topic 2: sustainable, secure, energy-efficient, and decarbonized freight transport and logistics

There are multiple challenges in the logistics value chains crisscrossing the Nordics. This could be maritime shipping that faces pressure to curb its environmental footprint, and transport producers struggling with low margins. As in many other areas, it is foreseen that data sharing can provide solutions for optimising operations both on board ships and in ports, reducing emissions in the process.

Road logistics account for 77% of inland freight in the EU (2020). Trucks connect with the Nordics in ways that other modes cannot. There are hydrogen initiatives ongoing, e.g. under Nordic Innovation’s Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity programme, and hopes for electrification are high. However, questions are raised regarding the current infrastructure – both road network, filling stations as well as the electrical grid. While automation and data collection, e.g., through sensors per vehicle, can be seen as opportunities to optimise and reduce impact, these initiatives still need more maturity.

The demand for transport is increasing. With more goods flowing into cities, last-mile logistics need to be optimised. Several municipalities in the Nordics are attempting to direct the developments in the sector, but commercial actors seem to recognise little value in collaboration, and a lack of data sharing hinders the optimal design and placement of consolidation centers or hubs. The complexity is rising as new modes such as e.g., drones enter the picture. The role of public procurers may play an important role in driving change.

A vision for the future of freight transport and logistics

In the future, the different parts of the logistics value chain will be working in unison. Data sharing across different ecosystems is enabled by strong standards and interoperability principles, possibly through trusted data intermediaries. Real-time tracking of freight makes optimization of transport in and out of hubs possible. Ships sail with optimal fuel consumption and arrive at ports that have the capacity to handle them.

Road freight is integrated into ecosystems. Trucks travel with better fill-rate, in optimal configurations, such as platoons. Newly designed urban consolidation hubs enable efficient loading & unloading, without adding to city traffic. Their design allows major transport producers as well as small companies to share resources. Efforts for a more collaborative last mile are orchestrated according to clear visions, and to meet societal challenges, with legislative and non-legislative initiatives in place to facilitate its realisation.

In the end, data sharing also allows goods owners to account for their emissions, as well as consumers to make better decisions. With all of this, the environmental footprint of logistics in the Nordics begins to trend downwards.

Expected outcomes

Projects seeking funding should aim to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:

  • New Nordic sustainable business models and solutions within mobility, logistics and connectivity.
  • Impact and value creation for Nordic businesses, contributing to global competitiveness of Nordic countries.
  • Positively impact real use cases, with real users in specific contexts.
  • Improved collaboration and governance for data sharing aiming at scaling of a Nordic model taking into account semantics, standards and regulations.
  • Synergies with ongoing projects and initiatives, demonstrating value for mobility in a wider context. It is important to avoid duplications or inefficient overlaps with other existing projects.
  • Impact aligned with the joint Nordic Vision 2030.

Who can apply

  • Companies (SMEs and larger companies)
  • Public sector organizations (such as municipalities, infrastructure owners, procurers, PTAs)
  • Cluster organisations, business networks, innovation ecosystems or facilitators

Please note that the involvement of industry and the direct benefit of the project for companies in the Nordic region will be part of the evaluation criteria. We are looking for consortia that show ambition, complementary strengths, competence, and experience with international activities.

As we emphasize the significance of active participation of problem and technology owners, consultancies should not take the role as project owner or project leader. Academic institutions may participate as project partners if relevant.

Applicants seeking to build a strong Nordic base/consortium for future EU projects on mobility and connectivity are also invited to participate in this call.

Consortium partners from countries outside the Nordic region are welcome to participate, but only partners from the Nordic countries can receive funding from Nordic Innovation.  

General eligibility criteria

Only projects that meet all the following general eligibility criteria will be eligible for funding:

  • The project must include partners from minimum three Nordic countries. The balance between the countries should be reasonable
  • Nordic Innovation requires co-funding of minimum 50%, in the form of direct funding or in-kind contributions (working hours). The total share of any in-kind contributions must be reasonable and well-balanced. The co-funding requirement applies to the project as a whole and not individual partners, however all partners are expected to demonstrate commitment
  • The project period cannot exceed 36 months
  • Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 or higher (applies to topic 1 and 2):

TRL 1 – basic principles observed
TRL 2 – technology concept formulated
TRL 3 – experimental proof of concept
TRL 4 – technology validated in lab
TRL 5 – technology validated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies
TRL 6 – technology demonstrated in relevant environment
TRL 7 – system prototype demonstration in operational environment
TRL 8 – system complete and qualified
TRL 9 – actual system proven in operational environment

  • Only applications submitted through Nordic Innovation’s application portal will be accepted.
  • All applications must be within the scope of this call.

Application process and other requirements

All applications must be submitted through Nordic Innovation’s application portal.

The proposal must be received by Nordic Innovation no later than 04.04.2024 at 13:00 CEST. Please note that applications received after the submission deadline will not be considered.

Proposals should be written in English and include a short summary. Please note that the summary may be published.

The budget should follow Nordic Innovation’s standard budget template. The budget template will be available in the application portal.

All questions regarding this call for proposals will be answered through a “Frequently Asked Questions”document on Nordic Innovation’s website. Questions regarding this call may be submitted to: hege.guttormsen@nordicinnovation.org. The deadline for asking questions is 30.01.2024. A digital information session is planned for early February 2024.

The Nordic Innovation Standard Terms and Conditions of Contract, dated 4 June 2020, will be a part of the project contract.

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Communication and reporting

Funded projects must provide a communication plan to be approved by Nordic Innovation before project start up. Funded projects must always acknowledge the support of Nordic Innovation in external communication (media, presentations, websites etc.). Furthermore, Nordic Innovation’s logo must be visible in all communication material related to the project. 

All communication and deliverables should follow the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Design manual and be compliant with the most recent WCAG (2.1) 9 in line with national implementation of the EU Directive for digital accessibility. When using social media, Nordic Innovation (@nordicinno and #nordicmobility) should be tagged or mentioned.

A reporting template will be provided. Reporting will take place in accordance with the requirements of  Nordic Innovation’s Standard Terms and Conditions of Contract. Furthermore, Nordic Innovation will establish regular contact with the successful projects to ensure visibility and support.

Evaluation criteria

Impact (30%)

  • Business level: Nordic Innovation seeks projects with the potential to create high impact for Nordic companies, in terms of business opportunities and sustainable growth, more innovation, entrepreneurship or access to new markets.
  • Nordic level: Applicants should describe the Nordic added value of the project (why will it be advantageous to carry out the project at Nordic level as opposed to e.g., at national or local level).
  • Societal level: Applicants must clarify how the project will address joint societal challenges or relevant Sustainable Development Goals and the joint Nordic Vision 2030.
  • Exit strategy: All applications must demonstrate how they intend to ensure the sustainability of the project results and impact creation after the project period has ended.
  • Visibility: Please describe how the project and its results will be disseminated and how visibility will be ensured.

Quality and relevance (25%): The project must show quality and relevance regarding:

  • Nordic Innovation’s mission: To contribute to sustainable growth, increased entrepreneurship, innovation, and competitiveness for Nordic companies.
  • The topic mobility and connectivity as described in this call.
  • Cross-sectoral innovation within the topic of mobility and connectivity.
  • Describe the concrete innovative result and the innovative aspects of the project.
  • Describe how the project addresses real market needs.

Competence and implementation (25%)

  • The consortium must demonstrate necessary and relevant implementation capacity and competence. The role, competence and responsibility of all project partners must be described, including the key role they play in implementing the project and/or the results of the project. Short CVs (1/2 page) may be attached.
  • The Nordic added value and synergies created must be described.
  • Project partners should have experience with international cooperation projects.
  • The project plan and management must be realistic, well-structured, and clearly defined.
  • The involvement of Nordic businesses and industries must be described.

Budget and value for money (20%)

  • The total budget and cost structure must be reasonable, realistic and in line with the ambitions of the project.
  • A high degree of own investment in the project will be assessed positively as it demonstrates commitment to the project.
  • Is the project financially viable and does it provide good value for money?
  • A budget template will be available in the application portal.

Eligible costs

Working hours, travel costs, meeting costs, communication, external services. Nordic Innovation’s approved hourly rate.

De Minimis Aid obligations

Nordic Innovation receives its financing from the five Nordic governments. As a general rule under EU Law, a single undertaking may receive a De Minimis Aid of up to EUR 200,000 per Member State over any period of three years. Given the rules and regulations Nordic Innovation is subject to, a grant from Nordic Innovation, under the De Minimis regulatory framework, 20% of the amount is counted as State Aid from each Nordic country.

Evaluation procedure

All applications will be evaluated by an evaluation panel consisting of representatives from Nordic Innovation and external experts. The final funding decision lies with Nordic Innovation. All proposals will be evaluated according to the evaluation criteria described in this call text.

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Nordic Smart Connectivity: Current state

This report presents an overview of the current state within Smart Connectivity in the Nordics.
The report discusses how projects and pilots seem to fail due to a somewhat “one-sided” focus on data and technology instead of being use case-focused and addressing the complexity mentioned above.

Download the "Nordic Smart Connectivity - current state" report

FAQ - anweres to all your questions

Would it be advisable for a start up or scale-up closely collaborating with various actors on mobility data to consider applying? Would this be within the target group, or is the call solely aimed at more established actors?

We will assess the role and competence of the individual partners and the consortium as a whole. However, It is important to note that this call is for mature Nordic innovation projects, meaning involvement from actors in at least three Nordic countries is required. It is not intended as support to individual entities.

Is funding only available to the Nordic countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, or would partners from other than the specified five countries joining a consortium also be eligible for up to 50% funding?

Nordic Innovation is unfortunately only able to provide funding to the Nordic countries, but partners from outside the Nordic countries are welcome to join a project consortium or contribute to the project without receiving funding if they would still wish to.

Would someone affiliated to a university be qualified for funding through this call if partnering up with companies whose main business targets smart transportation and mobility sharing?

Our main target group for applicants include:

  • Companies (SMEs and larger companies)
  • Public sector organizations (such as municipalities, infrastructure owners, procurers, PTAs)
  • Cluster organisations, business networks, innovation ecosystems or facilitators

However, we have also opened up for academic institutions to participate as project partners when relevant. In addition, we require the project to include partners from at least 3 Nordic countries. A university together with companies covering at least three Nordic countries would therefore be qualified to apply.

Could I send you material about my company/project and have a short meeting to identify whether this call for proposals would be a good fit and to discuss the application?

Unfortunately, we will not be able to meet with individual applicants and provide very specific advice on applications. We also believe that applicants are better placed to decide whether a project idea is relevant for the topics and purpose of the call and to argue the case.

Can a successful application to this call be co-financed by another grant from EU or a Nordic national innovation fund?

Yes. However, no double funding will be allowed. We also expect to see some level of commitment from all project partners, meaning no project partner should have 0% co-financing.

In the call it is stated “As we emphasize the significance of active participation of problem and technology owners, consultancies should not take the role as project owner or project leader. Academic institutions may participate as project partners if relevant.” Can you make examples of problem owners and technology owners? Can for example city of Oslo be the problem owner? Can a research institute be a technology owner in an area such as data sharing frameworks? Do you want the technology owner be a company which produces profit from the results of the project?

The main purpose of this, i.e. ensuring involvement and commitment from problem owners, is to make sure that the results of the project will be implemented and scaled and that there is continuity between the project and the realization of the results. As we see it, a municipality could be a problem owner, and likewise a research institute could be a technology owner. We encourage you to explain the composition of the consortium and the designated roles.

Does the requirement of 50% co-financing mean that half of the amount applied for should be covered by own contributions, or that the amount applied for should be doubled through own contributions?

The amount applied for should be no more than 50% of the total project budget. This means that if a project applies for ex. NOK 3 million, the total project budget should be at least NOK 6 million.

Can you elaborate on what a ‘rig’ entails? How does it differ from a project consortium?

A systemic innovation approach calls for strategic orchestration - a “rig” supporting the establishment of long-term collaboration structures in a mobility ecosystem for data sharing, operating within an innovation framework of joint objectives, visions, and actions.

A rig in this context differs from ex. a cross-sectorial project consortium in its purpose to foster ecosystem collaboration in a longer time perspective. Longevity is important as the intention of a rig is that it should be able to live on even after a project period comes to an end. The shape and form of the rig is not predefined in the call as it should respond to the needs of its participants and fill an identified gap.

The rig should also be agile and adaptive to changing needs and an evolving agenda. In this call, the rig funding is intended for its establishment, where it then becomes important to describe the ‘exit’ or how it can continue serving a purpose after the project period has ended.

Regarding the TRL level: the call emphasizes that the project should not be too technology and data focused, but it requires TRL6 or higher. How should this be interpreted?

The technology readiness level requirement is indicative of the maturity level of the solution. In this call, we want to see mature solutions that are as close to market as possible. The data and technology should contribute to solving actual needs/tied to a concrete use case, rather than developing technology for the sake of technology.

Could a project build on work done in a previous pilot project?

Yes. As stated in the call text, one of the aims of the Smart Connectivity initiative is ‘to support the implementation of successful pilots/projects that are mature but have yet to be realised’. A lot of work has been done in previous pilots without it having been implemented or realised for various reasons, and it could be valuable to build upon these previous efforts and experiences to reach implementation.

The call does not mention many examples of new mobility solutions, ex. micro mobility, is this still within the scope?

Yes, the call is focused on sustainable mobility solutions that contribute to solving a challenge. It does not specify what the solution should be as this will be up to the applicant to propose and argue the relevance of.

Contacts

Nina Egeli - Senior Innovation Adviser

Nina Egeli

Senior Innovation Adviser
Internationalization, innovation and business development support, in combination with a strong background in strategy and policy development are main pillars in Nina’s professional life. Through project design and management, she aims to fit market needs with relevant services and opportunities that allows new business partnerships and business projects to prosper.

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