Timeplapse of city and vehicle lights

Call for Proposals: Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity - Round 2

Call for proposals Deadline 23.04.2020

Application deadline:  23 April 2020 at 13.00 CET

Funding decision: TBA

Total budget: NOK 16 million

Due to the current situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) Nordic Innovation has decided to postpone the deadline of the grants for joint Nordic events to ensure that everyone has a fair chance of submitting their proposal in time. The new deadline is 23 April 2020.

Call text:

Background

This call for proposals combines two of the initiatives that currently make up Nordic Innovation’s Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity program. The program was launched in May 2018 and is one of Nordic Innovation’s three thematic priorities for the period 2018-21. A total of NOK 60 million has been allocated to the program.

This is the second call for proposals launched by Nordic Innovation on the two selected topics. The first round of calls was carried out in the spring 2019. Four projects were selected for funding.

It is not a pre-requisite to have participated in the first rounds to be able to compete for funding in this stage two call for proposals. 

Purpose

The purpose of this call is to foster the establishment of Nordic innovation projects, new Nordic partnerships, value chains and/or business models in the field of Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity. Through this initiative, Nordic Innovation sets out to promote sustainable growth, innovation, entrepreneurship and/or global competitiveness of Nordic companies. By promoting Nordic smart mobility and connectivity solutions, Nordic Innovation aims to speed up the transition to a more sustainable, innovative and connected mobile future, where quality of life and liveability is a cross-cutting aspiration

Funding

Total budget: Nordic Innovation has allocated NOK 16 million to this call for proposals.
Total number of projects to be funded: 2-4 projects with up to NOK 4 million funding each from Nordic Innovation. The funding will be given in the form of a grant.
Project duration: Maximum 36 months.

About the programme and thematic scope of the call

The Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity program is about changing the way people and goods move and speeding up the transition towards a sustainable future through innovative Nordic mobility solutions. At the core of the program lies the shared Nordic values of trust, equality, sustainability, innovation and openness, as well as the Nordic tradition of putting people first and securing accessibility for all.

Moreover, Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity is about the movement and connectivity of people, goods and services, assets and data. The term ‘mobility’ is used instead of ‘transport’ as we seek a broad and new approach, where moving people and goods from A to B is core, not the mode of transport, how or where it takes place. ‘Smart’ may refer to e.g. sustainability, security or digitalization. Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity is also about business development, innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable growth in this field.

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

New Nordic sustainable business models and solutions within mobility and connectivity

Impact and value creation for Nordic businesses

Improved global market opportunities for Nordic mobility and connectivity solutions and business models

Through the program and this call for proposals, we are looking for projects that have the potential for creating high impact and substantial Nordic added value, and where joint Nordic mobility and connectivity innovation can provide solutions to global challenges. We seek mobility projects that boost added value and spark innovation by combining and building on Nordic strongholds, existing or new mobility solutions. This includes innovative mobility concepts and solutions that are ready for global markets. Applicants should also note that we seek to fulfil the Nordic countries’ joint vision of the Nordic region as the most sustainable and integrated region in the world within a decade.

This call for proposals covers two topics:

1. Seamless, integrated and people-centric mobility, or
2. Sustainable, secure, energy-efficient and decarbonized mobility

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

Topic 1: Seamless, integrated and people-centric mobility

New technology, as well as and changes in behaviour and demand, is transforming urban mobility as we know it today. To adapt to and manage technological changes and future needs, Nordic Innovation is looking for projects that will bring about an improved mobility landscape – optimizing and improving the way people and goods move. The projects should contribute to a seamless and integrated mobility system that considers users (both consumers and businesses), operators (of both physical assets and services), owners, financiers as well as regulators.

Areas of interest may include but are not limited to: Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), digitalization and logistics, connected transportation systems, last mile solutions, smart infrastructure, sharing services or autonomous and electric vehicles. The projects should lead to the optimization of the mobility system by creating new business opportunities and solutions that will enable fast, smooth, accessible and affordable mobility solutions for both people and goods.

Topic 2: Sustainable, secure, energy-efficient and decarbonized mobility

Nordic Innovation wishes to solicit projects that will help speed up the transition to a cleaner, more resource efficient and secure mobility sector in the Nordic region. As such, the projects shall ensure that the future of mobility will reduce the environmental impact of the transport sector, provide better and safer mobility services as well as boost the competitiveness of the Nordic mobility industry with regards to sustainable mobility/transportation.

Proposed projects can span across all modes of transportation, people or goods transport, including but not limited to: alternative energy sources, decarbonization, efficient and affordable mobility solutions, safe and secure mobility systems. The projects should lead to a Nordic mobility system that is more resource-efficient, climate and environmentally friendly, as well as safe and accessible, for the benefit of all Nordic citizens.

Who can apply?

Companies (SMEs and larger companies), public sector organizations (e.g. infrastructure owners, regulators, procurers, innovation ecosystems), cluster organizations, business networks or research institutions may apply. 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.

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.

- The project period cannot exceed 36 months.

- Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 or higher:
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.

De Minimis Aid obligations

It is a requirement that all grants from Nordic Innovation comply with the aid rules of the European Union and the Agreement on the European Economic Area (The EEA Agreement). However, organisations under The Nordic Council of Ministers were given new guidelines for State Aid as of 2019, and these applies a.o. for Nordic Innovation.

The support you are being offered is being granted in compliance with Commission Regulation (EC) No 1407/2013 on the application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to de minimis aid, published in the Official Journal of the European Union L 352 from 24.12.2013.

Grants from Nordic Innovation comes from the five Nordic governments and a Nordic undertaking is allowed to receive up to € 200,000 of de minimis aid from each of the Nordic Countries. Consequently, a Nordic company can receive up to 1,000,000 EUR over a rolling period of three fiscal years from Nordic Innovation under the de minimis regulation, given that the company has received no grants as De Minimis Aid prior to this grant.

Eligible costs

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

Ineligible costs

-Basic research
-Investments in individual companies
-Independent freelance activities
-Writing applications
-Costs for procurement of equipment
-Overtime costs
-Salary increases
-Indirect taxes and duties, including VAT
-“Return on capital employed”, including dividends and other distributions of profits
-Provisions for possible future losses and charges
-Costs related to any interests
-Provisions for doubtful debts
-Unnecessary or ill-considered expenses
-Marketing, sales and distribution costs for production and services
-Leasing costs (or part thereof) where the leasing arrangement has the effect of unnecessarily increasing the charge made to the project (e.g. where the cost without interest of the leased equipment is higher than if purchased).

Evaluation criteria

All applications/project outlines will be evaluated based on the following four criteria:
A. 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 projects will address joint societal challenges or relevant Sustainable Development Goals (e.g. 9 and 11) and the joint vision for Nordic cooperation. The projects should also have a potential for positive impact for Nordic citizens – and beyond.
• 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: Nordic Innovation will prioritise high impact projects with a high potential for visibility. Please describe how the project and its results will be disseminated and how visibility will be ensured.

B. Quality and relevance (25%)
The project must show quality and relevance in regard to:
• 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 (new concept, process, business model, product or service) – of relevance to the call text.
• Describe how the project addresses real market needs.

C. 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 through the consortium as a whole must be described.
• Project partners should preferably have experience with international cooperation projects.
• The project plan and management should be realistic, well-structured and clearly defined.
• The involvement of Nordic businesses and industries must be described.

D. 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 on Nordic Innovation’s website. This must be attached to the applications.

Application process and other requirements

All applications must be submitted via the application portal on Nordic Innovation’s website. The portal will be opened in January 2020.

All questions regarding this call for proposals will be answered through a FAQ section on Nordic Innovation’s website. You can find the section below on this page and it will be updated on a regular basis. Questions regarding this call may be submitted to: n.egeli@nordicinnovation.org and i.josefsson@nordicinnovation.org .

Please note that the short summary of the project (re application form) may be published.

Proposals can be written in English or a Scandinavian language. A summary must be provided in English.

Evaluation procedure

All applications will be evaluated by 1) A Nordic Innovation team and 2) An external Nordic evaluation panel with representatives from both the private and public sector. The final funding decision lies with Nordic Innovation. All proposals will be evaluated according to the evaluation criteria described in this call text.

Communication and reporting

Funded projects must provide a communication plan to be approved by Nordic Innovation be-fore project start up. In addition, they must always acknowledge the support of Nordic Innovation in external communication (media, presentations, websites etc.).

Communication material should as a main rule be based on the Nordic Council of Ministers' design manual unless something else is agreed upon in the final contract. When using social media Nordic Innovation must be tagged and relevant hashtag used (#NordicMobility).

Linkedin: @Nordic Innovation
Facebook: @nordicinnovation.org
Twitter: @nordicinno

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 (see below).

Furthermore, Nordic Innovation will establish regular contact with the projects to ensure visibility and support.

Download the PDF below to read the entire call text.

Read our Standard Terms and Conditions of Contract:

FAQ

What is the topic of the call?

There are two topics that falls under this call, which will be treated as one process:

- Seamless, integrated and people-centric mobility, or
- Sustainable, energy-efficient and decarbonized mobility.

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

What will be the budget and funding structure for the stage 2 call?

Total budget:
Nordic Innovation has allocated 16 MNOK to this call for proposals.

Total projects funded:
2-4 projects with up to 4 MNOK funding from Nordic Innovation.

Project duration:
Maximum 36 months.

Co-funding requirement:
Minimum 50% in the form of direct contribution and/or in kind contribution (Example: 3 MNOK from Nordic Innovation + 3 MNOK from project partners, totaling 6 MNOK for the whole project, equaling 2 MNOK per year.)

When will the call be published and when is the application deadline?

Preliminary timeline:

Application portale will be opened:
In the end of January 2020.

Application deadline:
31 March 2020

Funding decision:
1 June 2020

Who can apply?

Companies (SMEs and larger companies), public sector organizations (infrastructure owners, regulators, procurers, innovation ecosystems etc.), cluster organizations, business networks or research organizations may apply. Please note that the involvement of industry and direct benefit of the project for Nordic businesses will be one of the evaluation criteria.
 
As we emphasize the significance of active participation of problem and technology owners, consultancies should not take the role of project owner or project leader.
 
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.
 

How will our application be evaluated?

All applications will be evaluated by 1) A Nordic Innovation team; and 2) An external evaluation panel (private and public sector). The final funding decision lies with Nordic Innovation.
 
All proposals will be evaluated according to the evaluation criteria described in the forthcoming call text. See below for further info.

What are eligible costs?

- Man hours.
- Travel costs.
- Meeting costs.
- Communication.
- External services.


Please refer to Nordic Innovation’s approved hourly rate.

What are ineligible costs?

- Basic research.
- Investments in individual companies.
- Independent freelance activities.
- Writing applications.
- Costs for procurement of equipment.
- Overtime costs.
- Salary increases.
- Indirect taxes and duties, including VAT.
- “Return on capital employed”, including dividends and other distributions of profits.
- Provisions for possible future losses and charges.
- Costs related to any interests.
- Provisions for doubtful debts.
- Unnecessary or ill-considered expenses.
- Marketing, sales and distribution costs for production and services.
- Leasing costs (or part thereof) where the leasing arrangement has the effect of unnecessarily increasing the charge made to the project (e.g. where the cost without interest of the leased equipment is higher than if purchased).

What are the general eligibility criteria?

- The project must include partners from minimum three Nordic countries. The balance between the countries should be reasonable. There may be several partners within each country.

- Nordic Innovation requires co-funding of minimum 50%. In-kind contributions (man hours) will be accepted. However, the total share of in-kind contributions must be reasonable and well-balanced. 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 from applicants will be assessed positively as it demonstrates commitment to the project. Please note that the budget and ‘value for money’ will be part of the evaluation criteria.

- The project period cannot exceed 36 months.

- Only applications submitted through Nordic Innovation’s application portal will be accepted.

- Only applicants and partners based and operating in one or more of the Nordic countries will be eligible for funding.

What are the main evaluation criteria?

Impact
- Company level, incl. business opportunities, scale-up or export opportunities, involvement of Nordic businesses in general
- Nordic level, incl. Nordic added value
- Societal level, incl. SDGs
- Exit strategy (sustainability after the finalisation of the project)
 
Quality, incl. relevance, market needs and innovation (incl. new business models/new value chains/ cross-sectoral collaboration)
 
Competence and implementation, incl. the consortium and roles
 
Budget and value for money

What type of projects will be funded?

Projects need to be at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 or higher. See also evaluation criteria.
 
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
 
Please note that projects that primarily only benefit one company or that focus on the development of one specific product, will not be considered as valid projects for this call. Please refer to the criteria ‘impact’ and ‘Nordic added value’ for more information.

What are the requirements regarding communication?

Funded projects should 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.
 
Communication material should in as large extent as possible be based on the Nordic Council of Ministers' design manual unless something else is agreed upon in the final contract. When using social media Nordic Innovation (@nordicinno) should be tagged or mentioned.

De minimis regulation – when, who and how? 

Applicants who have received de minimis aid over the current year and the previous two fiscal years, must pay special attention to the rules. To confirm that you may to receive more funding, in accordance with the rules, you must declare the full amount of de minimis aid you have already received. A De Minimis Aid Declaration will be provided by Nordic Innovation to successful applicants.  
 
All applicants are responsible for keeping track of de minimis aid received.  
 
The following is not a comprehensive list of the possible forms of aid. However, it should give an indication of the most common forms of aid, which you may have been given over the relevant period.  Potentially any assistance from a public body might be an aid in the sense of the EEA Agreement (and EU Treaty).
   
- Grants from public bodies.  
- Loans from public bodies at favourable rates. 
- Loan guarantees from public bodies. 
- Differential tax benefits. 
- Monopoly licences or guarantees of market share. 
- Consultancy advice provided either free or at a reduced rate. 
- Training provided either free or at a reduced rate. 
- Purchase of public land or property at a less than market rate. 

These types of aid may have been provided under de minimis (as de minimis aid) or under another Aid regulation. If you are in any doubt whether aid received was de minimis aid or about its value, please check with the organisation, which granted it. 

May a project be co-funded by someone who is not a partner in the project?

This must be assessed on a case-to-case basis. In general, it will be necessary to explain why the funding partner is not part of the consortium/a formal partner in the project. It is also necessary to prove that the co-funding has not already been allocated to some other project or purpose, but is allocated fully to this particular project.  

Do we need to attach letters of intent from companies that want to participate, or can we list companies in the application?

It is not necessary to include a letter of intent. However, each of the partners will have to provide an individual budget (template will be provided in the application portal). Please also note that the partners of projects selected for funding will have to set up a collaboration agreement.

Is it possible to apply for funding without one specific private  sector company project partner from the beginning of the project?

Yes, if no other option is available. It is, however, necessary to explain why this is the case and to describe what steps will be taken to get Nordic companies on board in the project phase. Alternatively, please explain how Nordic companies will benefit from the project. The budget must include allocations for future industry partners. It is advisable to have all partners on board from the outset.

Are we free to structure some of the texts in a project description that we can attach to the application?

No. The application must be submitted through the portal, which is to be opened by 1 June. No attachments are allowed apart from CVs of ½ page each, the budget and the plan of action.

Should we write a text that explains how our project will meet each of the evaluation criteria that are listed?

The application portal will guide you. It is important, though, that all applicants bear in mind the evaluation criteria.

Does my project fit?

If your core business/the core of the project is mobility, and if the purpose of your project matches one of the two topics of the call, you are good to go, provided that you meet the other criteria listed in the call for proposals. Within the framework we have provided, you will have the freedom to describe, explain, prioritise and build the project the way you find is the best to ensure the success of the project.

Do you want individual or organizational cvs and from whom?

Our request for CVs for project participants refers to individuals intended to be actively working in the proposed project. The background to our request is for us to get a better picture of the prerequisites for success in the proposed project.

Please explain how you calculate the hourly rate

Please read the document on Nordic Innovation’s approved hourly rate thoroughly. Hourly rate = gross salary (as stated on the pay slip) X 0,12. The outcome of the hourly rate in the for mentioned example, will be the equivalent of the real hourly cost and overhead. The approved hourly rate (including overhead) is limited upwards to a maximum of NOK 1.100. A project participant cannot exceed 1.850 working hours per year.

What do you mean by total project costs?

The total costs of the project = Nordic Innovation funding + own funding

What is the difference between Project Owner and Project Leader?

The Project Owner is the legal entity (e.g., university, university college, research center, private enterprise) having the rights and obligations defined by the Contract towards Nordic Innovation. cf. Standard Terms and Conditions of Contract.

The Project leader is the person who, on behalf of the Project Owner, is responsible for the professional implementation, progress, and completion of the Project in accordance with the Standard Terms and Conditions of Contract. The project leader will, in other words, be responsible for the day-to-day follow-up of and implementation of the project and will normally report to the project owner.

It is up to the consortium to decide on the division of roles. In some cases project owner and project leader may represent the same organization.

How secure does the co-financing need to be in the application stage?

The evaluators will be looking for strong implementation capacity and a realistic budget and cost structure – which will of course also include co-financing. If the co-financing is not secure, for some reason, it is important to explain why and to include mitigation measures.

Contacts

Portrait Nina Egeli

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.

Twitter   Linkedin

Portrait Ivar Josefsson

Ivar Josefsson

Innovation Adviser
Ivar combines his international experience with an environmental background to identify the most promising Nordic projects for achieving sustainable growth. His main strengths lie within the fields of international relations and environment, and he worked briefly in the international development sector prior to joining Nordic Innovation in 2018.

Twitter   Linkedin

Portrait Mikael von Dorrien

Mikael von Dorrien

Senior Innovation Adviser
Mikael has long experience working within the field of hightech startups. With a background from Swedish Almi Invest, he has in depth knowledge of the startup investor market. Since 2014 Mikael has worked at Nordic Innovation with entrepreneurship, Nordic Innovation Houses and now the Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity program.

Twitter   Linkedin