The climate is changing, and we urgently need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt communities so they can cope with climate change now and in the future. A major part of meeting climate challenges is making our use of resources far more efficient.
This call aims to ensure that measures to increase resource efficiency contribute to significant climate gains. We are seeking research that adopts broad perspectives on entire systems, value chains or cross-sectoral solutions, or studies on how societal changes can occur through governance and behavioural changes, for example. The call also aims to increase the international relevance of research within the call’s scope.
The call is aimed at researchers who hold a PhD and are affiliated with higher education institutions, research institutes, government agencies with research assignments, or other organisations that primarily engage in research. A maximum of 8 million kronor can be sought for a project, and the maximum total budget for the call is 90 million kronor. The call is being carried out within the national research programme on climate.
The climate is changing, and we urgently need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt communities so they can cope with climate change now and in the future. A major part of meeting climate challenges is making our use of resources far more efficient. According to estimates by the UN’s International Resource Panel, more than half of global carbon dioxide emissions and 90 percent of biodiversity loss can be attributed to the extraction and processing of various natural resources. Materials thus need to be used much more efficiently if we are to achieve the climate goals.
Because current production models and consumption patterns are linear, great values are lost with significant climate and environmental impact as a result. Today’s policy instruments, legislation and business models often adopt a linear approach. A continued focus on producing new goods entails a significant waste of resources. The norm is to buy new, and global demand for materials is rising as more groups gain more purchasing power. Although the circular economy has attracted much attention, many end-of-life products and materials are still regarded not as valuable resources but as waste. In addition, there is insufficient support for recycling, both in terms of product design and financial incentives to choose recycled instead of virgin materials.
Through resource efficiency, emission reductions can be generated by extending product life, increasing the reuse of input materials and components, building circularity into the product life cycle, and using smaller amounts of materials to maintain the same function. Additional dimensions can include replacing owned products with services or sharing, or changing values, behaviours and routines that underpin the consumption patterns of the individual as well as public- and private-sector organisations. We need to design effective governance, focus on areas with the potential to achieve major climate gains, and understand the consequences. The relationships are complex. Some solutions might have limited or unknown benefits for the climate, or might be difficult to scale up. Interventions in one area can have unexpected or even undesirable consequences in another area. It is therefore important to analyse possible measures critically, based on the complex interdependencies among the different issues. Examples of such complex relationships are that technology and infrastructure for emission reductions or climate adaptation can increase demand for materials with a high climate impact, or that climate change can have both negative and positive effects on biomass production because of factors like extreme weather events or longer growing seasons. Another example is the so-called rebound effect, when resource efficiency frees up economic resources and can lead to increased consumption that becomes a burden on the environment.
Climate change and resource efficiency issues are high on both the political agenda and in the business sector, both in Sweden and worldwide. Examples include the EU’s Green Deal, various circular economy action plans developed both by individual countries and at the EU level, and sustainable development goals 12 and 13 in Agenda 2030. The Swedish government has recently adopted a strategy and an action plan for a circular economy. Circularity in material use is a priority area in both Fossil-Free Sweden and the innovation partnership programme Climate Neutral Industry. Resource efficiency and climate change are also prioritised in Horizon Europe, the new EU framework programme for research and innovation. In addition to helping achieve the climate change transition, efforts to increase resource efficiency are also expected to have positive effects on matters like water use and biodiversity, as well as job creation and business development.
The role of research is central. It can guide society’s climate change and resource efficiency efforts by revealing the main benefit – not least in terms of reduced climate impact – from a system perspective, or by proposing actions to change business operations, markets or people’s behaviour. The challenges are very much global ones. Solutions must be discovered for entire value chains, which are often global. For example, efforts to increase resource efficiency in Europe can affect the import and export outlook of low- and middle-income countries, as well as their own sustainable development. All in all, society needs support from research to make well-informed trade-offs, design effective governance, develop the right type of indicators, and optimise contributions to reduce the climate impact of material use.
The call aims to:
- Enable significant climate gains through measures that increase resource efficiency.
- Increase the international relevance of research within the call’s scope.
Measures to increase resource efficiency
We are seeking to fund research that adopts broad perspectives on entire systems, value chains or cross-sectoral solutions, or studies on how societal changes can occur through governance and behavioural changes, for example. The research funded through the call is expected to generate climate gains through long-term achievements such as:
- Designing comprehensive regulatory frameworks and policy instruments that increase resource efficiency over the product life cycle
- A more efficient use of materials and other resources through global value chains
- Public procurement that drives the development of resource-efficient goods and services
- New business models for a transition from goods to services or from ownership to sharing
- Changed behaviours at the organisational and individual levels that help reduce the climate impact of consumption
- Accurate definitions, targets and indicators for the climate gains of resource efficiency
- A fair climate transition, between and within countries, which also positively impacts the circumstances of low- and income countries
- Reduced extraction of virgin materials with a high climate impact, and reduced waste
Increased research internationalisation
The challenges are great from a global perspective and are often global in nature. Applications for funding must therefore describe how the proposed research would be relevant from an international perspective. Where relevant, Formas also encourages project activities involving internationalisation of the research funded in the call. Read more under “Costs that qualify for funding”. The suggestions for increased internationalisation should be explained in detail.
Scope of the call
Applications must have the potential to bring about significant climate gains in line with global and national climate targets. However, applications that focus on the energy system cannot receive funding in the call. Also, applications that focus on the development of individual products or materials do not qualify for funding. Applications that fall outside the scope of the call will be rejected at an early stage and will not proceed to review.
The call is aimed at researchers from any discipline who want to develop and internationalise their research. Interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged where appropriate to the topic. Collaboration with other stakeholders outside academia is encouraged but is not a requirement.
Formas is tasked with working towards achieving a sustainable development of society. Crucial to such a development are equal opportunities and inclusion. We therefore encourage applicants to think as much as possible about designing the project so that it can contribute knowledge that reflects and is relevant to different groups in society. We also encourage you to consider gender balance in the project team and including participants with different backgrounds and experiences. However, this will not be part of the assessment of your application at this time.
Before you apply
Everything you need to know when applying. For example what the application shall contain, how the application is registered in the application system Prisma, information about administrating organizations, evaluation criteria and the assessment process.
The principal applicant and other participating researchers must have completed their PhD degree. Others involved in the project, such as PhD students, communicators or technical staff, do not need to hold a PhD. The principal applicant and participating researchers must have completed their PhD by 1 May 2021. The principal applicant must be (or, through the project, must become) active at an administrating organisation that has been generally approved by Formas for all calls. Generally approved administrating organisations are usually Swedish higher education institutions, research institutes or other organisations primarily engaged in research. Read more about who can become an administrating organisation.
The project may include participating researchers or other project participants employed at a higher education institution outside of Sweden. The administrating organisation is responsible for transferring funds to foreign organisations in accordance with the administrating organisation’s rules and guidelines.
In this call, Formas does not grant funding to organisations engaged in economic activity. However, all types of organisations are welcome to contribute co-funding to the project. Co-funding can consist of time, money or other resources and should be reported in the budget specification.
You can seek funding in this call even if you have an ongoing project that is being funded by Formas. However, the total funding must not exceed 100 percent of your salary.
An individual is not allowed to be the principal applicant for more than one application in this call. However, there are no restrictions on how many applications an individual can be a co-applicant for.
When you apply for project funding, you can apply for a grant to cover both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include costs for salaries, equipment and travel. Indirect costs are costs that are shared with others in your organisation, such as for administration, IT and renting of premises. Indirect costs are sometimes called overhead.
In this call, you can also apply for funding to help increase research internationalisation. Examples are:
- Salaries of participating researchers or other project participants employed at a higher education institution outside of Sweden. However, foreign participation in the project must be limited, well-defined and clearly explained in the project application.
- International conferences, workshops, PhD courses or other networking activities. These must be carried out considering the effects on climate change and the environment.
- Mobility between Swedish and foreign higher education institutions, including PhD student exchanges or guest research positions at different career levels.
- A survey of target groups for research results outside Sweden.
- Analyses of how research can be linked to projects and initiatives in other countries or in international partnerships.
- Analyses of upcoming opportunities to receive international research funding, for example within Horizon Europe.
The production of research applications is not funded in the call.
The grant amount for a project must be at least 3 million kronor and a maximum of 8 million kronor. The project must run for a minimum of 3 years (36 months) and a maximum of four years (48 months). Applications with a requested amount or project duration that does not fall within the above range will be rejected by Formas at an early stage and will not proceed to review.
Funding can be sought for the years 2021–2025. The application’s budget must indicate how the funds will be used in the project. For administrative reasons, Formas can apply a payout plan that differs from the application’s allocation of the budget over time.
The project start date is set in Prisma to 1 December 2021 and cannot be changed. Funds will begin to be disbursed for awarded projects during 2021.
You should write your application in English, since the review panel that will assess your application is international. If you do write your application in Swedish, a professional translator will translate into English only the section describing the research programme. You will not be able to see or change the translated text before the application continues on to assessment by the review panel. However, the popular science description must be written in Swedish, while the abstract should be in both Swedish and English. Your budget specification and CV will not be translated. Please write these in English, even if you write the other sections in Swedish and submit your application in the Swedish version of our application system.
According to Swedish law, the application and its appendices are considered as general public documents after they are submitted to us. This means that anyone can request and read your application. Before we disclose any applications we always conduct a confidentiality assessment, but we can only hide information as legislated for in the Public Access and Secrecy Act (2009:400).
As an applicant, you can mark the parts you believe should be treated as confidential, but it is Formas’ assessment during the confidentiality review that determines what is disclosed.
The popular science description and project abstracts in Swedish and English will, if the project is awarded funding, be published in open-access project databases without a confidentiality review. Therefore, the contents of these fields should not contain sensitive information.
Formas has limited possibilities to keep personal data confidential. Therefore, your application should not contain personal data that is not needed for the application.
We at Formas are eager to fund projects that maximise positive and minimise negative impacts on the environment and climate. We therefore encourage grant applicants to design their projects so that collaboration takes place primarily through online meetings and that any necessary travel takes place in a climate-smart way. We also suggest that you include measures that minimise energy use and other resource consumption, emissions and waste in project planning. However, this will not be part of the assessment of your application at this time. Please read about Formas’ own sustainability work.
How to apply
Your application must include a clear description of the project under the following sections:
- Number of months applied for: The number of months must not be less than 36 months or exceed 48 months.
- Start month: The start date is set to 2021-12-01 and cannot be changed.
- Calculated project time: The project duration is calculated automatically in Prisma, based on the start date stated and the number of months stated.
- Project title (in Swedish and English): A maximum of 200 characters per project title, including spaces.
- Popular science description (Swedish): A maximum of 4,500 characters, including spaces. If the project is awarded a grant, the popular science description will be published in open-access project databases without a confidentiality review. Therefore, the contents of this field should not contain sensitive information.
- Abstract (in Swedish and English): A maximum of 1,500 characters per abstract, including spaces. Project abstracts for awarded projects will be published in open-access project databases without a confidentiality review. Therefore, the contents of these fields should not contain sensitive information.
- Goals and objectives of the project, and a background description containing an overview of the research area, and the project’s relevance to the purpose and focus of the call. A maximum of 7,000 characters, including spaces.
- Project description, including structure, theory, methodology and implementation as well as a plan for publication in a scientific journal: A maximum of 15,000 characters, including spaces.
- Description of the possible societal benefit of the project: A maximum of 8,000 characters, including spaces.
- Planned communication with stakeholders/users: A maximum of 8,000 characters, including spaces.
- References: A maximum of 5,000 characters, including spaces.
You report the project budget in Prisma. In Prisma, write out the total amount you are applying for in kronor using digits. For example, 1 million kronor should be written as: 1 000 000 kronor. The budget should include:
- Salaries including social fees, for each project participant: You can apply for funding to cover salaries for researchers, PhD students and other project participants, such as communicators or technical staff. Salary funding can be sought for specific people or for roles in the project. Social security contributions should be included. The total amount of the salary for a single researcher, PhD student or other staff must not exceed 100 percent of full-time employment. This also means that someone who is already receiving full salary funding from any other funder cannot receive additional funding for salary. Researchers who are full-time pensioners cannot receive funding for their own salary.
- Dedicated time for this project: Dedicated time (or activity level) refers to the percentage of full-time service a project participant contributes. It indicates whether the applicant contributes in-kind services or other funding for completing the project.
- Running costs: Running costs (or operating costs) can include the cost of consumables, travel, conferences and publication fees for open-access journals and databases.
- Equipment costs and depreciation costs: Specify equipment and depreciation costs if relevant for the application. The total maximum amount you can be granted for equipment you use in the project and related equipment depreciation costs is 500,000 kronor.
- Premises: You can apply for funding for the cost of premises if this is not already included as overhead in the project’s budget.
- Indirect costs: Indirect costs are also called overhead costs. When you specify overhead costs in the application, you should do so according to the practice of the organisation that will manage the grant. If funds are to be transferred from the administrating organisation to another organisation involved in the project, the overhead cost of the receiving organisation can be applied to the funds transferred. Explain and report the different overhead costs in the budget specification. The total overhead for the project should be entered in the budget table. Formas does not grant funding for overhead costs that you write off for equipment or premises. If your administrating organisation does not charge indirect costs for this type of grant, please state 0 kronor.
- Other costs: Refers to funds not sought but relevant to the completion of the project. An example is co-funding from partners or project funding from other sources.
- Total cost: Here, the entire budget is automatically totalled.
- Budget specification: In your own words, explain the budget. State how the grant amount you are applying for will be distributed each year, as well as the total amount for each organisation if funds will be transferred to other organisations. Provide a brief justification for the salary expenses stated in the budget. All other costs must be justified, such as costs for participating in conferences, publication fees for open-access publications and data, and similar. A description of the total project budget, including funding from other sources, should also be included. The budget specification is part of the application assessment.
You should specify whether or not there are specific ethical concerns in your project. If so, state what these ethical concerns are and how you plan to manage them. Examples include research that uses personal data or research involving experiments on humans or animals. Even if you do not expect your research to involve ethical concerns, you should state that this is the case in your application and explain why.
If you are conducting research on people, human tissue or are processing sensitive personal data, you must obtain ethical approval from the Swedish Ethical Review Authority. If you are conducting an animal experiment, you also need to obtain ethical approval. You can apply for approval through the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s online service.
You should state in your application whether or not you have obtained ethical approval. If you have not obtained such approval and you are awarded a grant, you must obtain it before the described studies begin.
Formas uses the project’s classifications in analyses and supporting documentation on an overall level. The classifications are made when the applicant states the subject area, research topic (SCB code), at least one sustainable development goal the project can contribute to, and keywords.
- Subject area: Select at least one and a maximum of three subject areas and add a sub-heading.
- Research topic (SCB code): Select at least one and a maximum of three research topics and two sub-levels that together form the entire code.
- Global sustainable development goals: Select up to three sustainable development goals (SDGs) the project can help to achieve, in order of relevance.
- Keywords: Enter at least one and a maximum of three keywords describing the project.
Administrating organisation – the organisation receiving the grant
In this call, only the applicant from Formas’ generally approved administrating organisations (approved for all calls) can submit an application. Prisma contains a default list of approved administrating organisations.
A registered application is automatically sent to the administrating organisation after the call closes. The administrating organisation then has seven business days to digitally sign the application.
The principal applicant invites participating researchers to the application in Prisma. A participating researcher is a PhD researcher who is considered to be a co-applicant for the project.
You can also have participating administrators. These people are not involved in the project but help you fill out the application form.
All participants must have created their own personal account in Prisma. Principal applicants invite people to participate in the application process by searching for their given name, surname and email address in Prisma (note that exact spelling of names and email addresses is required).
You must include the project manager’s CV in the application. CVs from up to 10 participating researchers who have received their PhD can also be added to the application, but CVs from other people working in the project should not be included. However, the skills of additional participating researchers can be described in an appropriate section in other parts of the project application.
The project manager and up to 10 participating PhD researchers retrieve the data for their CVs through their personal accounts in Prisma. Add the following information to the application:
- Education: Postgraduate, undergraduate and graduate level.
- Professional experience: Current employment and major relevant prior positions, postdoctoral stays, postgraduate exchanges that are relevant for the research, and any significant gaps in the research (such as parental leave, illness, military service or political duties).
- Qualifications and merits:
- Number of advisor engagements: Doctoral students, postdocs, graduate theses; specify the total number for each category and name the most relevant ones (10 maximum)
- Grants received in competition: Specify the most relevant ones (10 maximum)
- Awards and distinctions: Specify the most relevant ones (10 maximum)
- Other merits: Here, the principal applicant and participating researchers should provide a brief summary of their publications during the past five years as well as the total number of publications if the applicant’s active research period exceeds five years (A maximum of 800 characters, including spaces). This summary should include the following:
- The number of publications of various types, such as articles in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, books and other monographs, conference papers and popular science contributions.
- Any citation metrics should be given, excluding self-citations, and the database they are retrieved from.
- The summary should not contain information about the H-index, the journal impact factor, or any other type of metric used to rank publishers or journals.
List of publications
The principal applicant and participating researchers should list their most relevant publications. Up to ten publications can be specified per person. The publications should be linked from the applicants’ personal profiles in Prisma.
The following appendices can be uploaded if relevant for the application:
- Appendix 1. Illustrations. If you need figures, tables or images to describe the project, you can upload them as attachments here. A maximum of one PDF attachment of 4 MB can be uploaded.
After submitting your application
First, Formas verifies that the application meets the procedural requirements set out in the call. If the application does not meet the procedural requirements, it is rejected.
The following requirements will be verified in this call:
- The administrating organisation has signed the application within seven calendar days of the call’s closing date.
- The focus of the application falls within Formas’ areas of responsibility (environment, agricultural sciences or spatial planning).
- The focus of the application falls within the call’s scope.
- The application is complete and contains all mandatory information.
- The requirements for project managers, project participants and organisations under “Applicant and organisation requirements” are met.
- The principal applicant responsible for other projects or activities funded by Formas has submitted the reports requested by the stated deadline.
Applications will be assessed by an international review panel that is qualified to cover the current theme in the call. Applications are assessed based on their contents. It is therefore important to write the application as clearly as possible and include all important and relevant information. Each application is read and assessed by several members of the panel. The review panel is composed of active researchers as well as individuals outside academia with the expertise necessary to evaluate the relevance of the research. The review panel is appointed by Formas.
Discrimination, such as on the basis of sex, is prohibited in the assessment of applications. The scientific quality and relevance of the proposed research take precedence over aspects of gender equality in the awarding of funding. But in cases where applications have the same assessment scores, the underrepresented sex is given preference.
Read more about Formas’ assessment process.
The applications are assessed based on the following criteria.
The review panel will assess your application with regard to the following:
- Alignment of the purpose with the purpose and focus of the call.
- Scientific relevance of the purpose
- Originality and novelty of purpose, theory and hypotheses
- Possibility of scientifically significant results
Method and implementation
The review panel assesses the following:
- Feasibility and suitability of the scientific method
- The novelty of the method
- Whether the execution plan and timetable are well-defined and realistic
- Whether the publication and communication plan is well-defined and realistic
- The coordination of the project and research team
- Suitability of the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches
- Whether the proposed research requires ethical considerations and how the applicant plans to take these into account
- The reasonableness of the budget in relation to the project’s organisation and expected results.
Of these points above, the feasibility and suitability of the scientific method carry the most weight.
Here, the review panel weighs the following:
- Scientific quality of publications
- Ability to complete the project according to plan
- Supervisory experience
- Project management experience
- National and international activities, including projects, networks, assignments, honorary assignments, and participation in or arranging workshops or conferences
- Interest, experience and ability to communicate the research and research results with stakeholders and users
- Strength and competitiveness of the research group.
The review panel assesses the quality of scientific publications with respect to standards within each field. The assessment focuses on the content and quality of the publications rather than on where they were published.
Publications are only part of what is factored into the criteria of scientific excellence. In their assessment, the reviewers also consider other forms of results achieved and experience. This includes, for example, the dissemination of knowledge, training, patents, products, or impact on policy.
The assessment takes into account relevant reasons for any gaps in research, such as parental leave or sick leave, that might have had an impact on the applicant’s overall productivity. So, the results and experience described by the applicant are assessed in relation to periods of active research.
Societal value of the research question
The review panel will assess how well you motivate how your proposed research addresses the following four considerations:
- The research question relates to important societal or sectoral issues within the call’s focus.
- The project can contribute in the short or the long term to sustainable development.
- In the project’s design, applicants consider the needs of different stakeholders and/or users.
- The purpose of the research is aligned with the purpose and focus of the call.
Taking into account the needs of stakeholders or users can include references to directives, environmental objectives, the UN’s sustainable development goals and related targets, and discussions with the relevant stakeholders or users.
The terms “stakeholders” and “users” are broadly defined as actors who can benefit from the research results or enable their future use in society. This includes actors outside or inside the research community (depending on whether the project is of a more basic or more applied nature), nationally or internationally.
Communication with stakeholders and users
The review panel assesses whether the application contains the following:
- A description of relevant stakeholders and/or users
- A concrete and realistic plan for (a) the project’s involvement of relevant stakeholders or users and (b) the project’s plan for communicating the research and its results with the stakeholders or users.
Communication with stakeholders and users can take place in different ways and with different timeframes, depending on the topic. However, it should include various forms of dialogue with stakeholders and potential users of the research.
The terms “stakeholders” and “users” are broadly defined as actors who can benefit from the research results or enable their future use in society. This includes actors outside or inside the research community (depending on whether the project is of a more basic or more applied nature), nationally or internationally.
Formas’ Scientific Council is expected to reach a decision on 25 November 2021 concerning which projects are awarded funding. Decisions are published on Formas’ website and sent by e-mail to the project manager stated in Prisma. The decision is accompanied by the review panel’s assessment. Grant award decisions cannot be appealed.
Each project that is awarded funding must submit a report to Formas containing a financial and a popular scientific summary in accordance with the decision. Read more about reporting requirements.
Formas may impose requirements on how projects must be reported in terms of content and results to enable distribution and application. In such cases, the award decision will contain more information about this. Formas may also require you to participate in conferences and similar events in order to create synergies and platforms for learning and knowledge sharing.
Results of research funded by Formas must be published using open access. Read more about open access to research results and data.
If you receive funding from us, you must have a data management plan for the data produced in the project. This plan does not need to be submitted to Formas, but should be presented on request. We recommend that you follow the proposal developed by Science Europe on what a data management plan should contain. For more information about the proposal, see the Practical Guide to the International Alignment of Research Data Management.
By signing our grant terms and conditions, you certify that a data management plan will be available before the research begins and that it will be maintained.
Formas shares information about awarded grants to SweCRIS, a national database of grant-funded research that was instituted by request of the government.
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A digital information meeting will be held on April 23 at 15.00-15.30. The meeting will be in Swedish, but it is possible to ask questions and receive answers in English.