Water is fundamental to all life, and all types of water – groundwater, freshwater and seawater – are interconnected. We know that the way we make use of our oceans and water today is not sustainable, and that we need new solutions and systemic changes to create a viable long-term use.
Solving society’s challenges and achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Agenda 2030 require innovation and a systems understanding, where stakeholder collaboration and a focus on usability and application of the solutions are key components. In addition, to make a real contribution to the SDGs, the application must be scalable and be able to be disseminated to and used by relevant stakeholders.
The purpose of this call is to fund preparatory projects that enable problem owners together with other stakeholders to tackle a complex challenge with a direct or indirect impact on the aquatic environment. The challenge should be of a complex nature, meaning that it requires collaboration among multiple stakeholders, takes several perspectives into account, and requires a combination of efforts to achieve the desired impacts. Preparatory projects enable problem owners to define and understand the systems, stakeholders and networks needed to take on the challenge that has been identified for a continuing project.
For example, a problem owner can be a public-sector organisation, municipality, municipal company, region or trade association. This organisation should be an active project participant but does not necessarily need to have the role of project manager or administrating organisation. The project can be completely new or it can complement and further develop an existing one. New partnerships are encouraged.
As a follow-up to this call for preparatory projects, Formas is planning a next phase in the form of an implementation call during 2023. In this next phase, solutions can be developed to be tested and demonstrated in real-world or near real-world environments for implementation and dissemination throughout society more quickly and securely.
The call is part of the national research programme on oceans and water and represents Sweden’s contribution to the UN Decade of Ocean Science.
Water is fundamental to life, and all types of water – groundwater, freshwater and seawater – are interconnected. Oceans and water deliver values such as food, transport routes, recreation and jobs. We know that the way we use our oceans and our water today is not sustainable. We need to find new solutions and implement systemic changes to create a long-term, sustainable use of our ocean and water resources.
Solving society’s challenges and achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Agenda 2030 require innovation and a systems understanding, where stakeholder collaboration and a focus on usability and application of the solutions are key components. In addition, to make a real contribution to the SDGs, the application must be scalable and be able to be disseminated to and used by other stakeholders or regions.
Innovation, demonstrations and broad collaboration are highlighted as key cornerstones of the UN Decade of Ocean Science, in the forthcoming EU partnerships A climate neutral and sustainable blue economy and Water4All, and in the Regional Baltic and North Sea Research Programme Banos, as well as within the framework of the EU missions. Through this call, Formas intends to stimulate the creation of new networks and forms of collaboration, primarily among stakeholders operating in Sweden, which can increase the competitiveness of Swedish parties in international calls.
The call is part of the national research programme on oceans and water and represents Sweden’s contribution to the UN Decade of Ocean Science. In Sweden’s contribution, water-related innovations have been identified as an important part of developing solutions to existing challenges.
The purpose of the call is to enable problem owners, together with other stakeholders, to take on a complex challenge in a subsequent continuing project whose solution has a direct or indirect positive impact on the aquatic environment. The challenge that the proposed project aims to solve should be of major importance to water resources management and provide added value for society at large or the business community, for example. The challenge must be of a complex nature requiring interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration. For the project to be considered, the application must clearly show that the sustainability perspective is an integral part of the project, as well as how this will be followed up and evaluated.
Improving relevance and the prerequisites for success usually requires an early understanding of the often complex systems that identified problems are part of and depend on. For example, the project should identify and establish a common understanding of the obstacles that exist or will exist later in the process, as well as key stakeholders and networks. A challenge can be a combination of any of the following:
- Technical or financial challenges
- Organisational, policy or regulatory conditions
- Behavioural challenges such as attitudes, drivers or ingrained habits.
Projects that receive funding must strive to identify long-term synergies among organisations and collaboration among different stakeholders, such as trade associations, the business sector and civil society.
The objectives of the preparatory projects covered by this call are as follows:
- The project is broadly anchored in relevant networks and with organisational leaders as as basis for a long-term project.
- Background documentation that clearly communicates how and why the proposed initiative should be implemented. The documentation should clearly state how the project contributes to increased sustainability of the aquatic environment.
- A proposal for how future solutions can be implemented, disseminated and achieve real-world impact in the complex system relevant to the challenge and the solution.
Formas is tasked with helping to advance society in a more sustainable direction. Equal opportunities and inclusion are crucial to this direction. We therefore encourage applicants to reflect on whether all or parts of the project can be designed to provide diverse groups in society with more knowledge, and to consider gender balance and the inclusion of participants with different backgrounds and experiences.
Funding can be sought for preparatory projects that run 12 to 18 months and for a maximum of 1.5 million kronor.
An implementation call is provisionally scheduled to open in April 2023. Projects funded in the present call are not guaranteed continued funding in the next phase.
This call is aimed at organisations that want to carry out projects in partnership. A maximum of two parties must be included in the preparatory project, and one party must be the problem owner. The problem owner can be a municipality, a region or county administrative board, public-sector organisation, trade association or municipal company. The problem owner can be the principal applying organisation (the administrating organisation) or a co-applicant party. A party from academia, meaning an applicant from a higher education institute, research institute or other research practitioner, can participate in the project as the main applicant or co-applicant.
The project can be completely new or complement an existing project. New partnerships are encouraged.
Before you apply
Note that this application procedure and application form differ from Formas’ regular calls for research projects. Learn more under the heading “How to apply”.
The main applicant’s organisation (a coordinating party) must be able to receive and administer the funds Formas pays out to an awarded project.
Formas distinguishes between administrating organisations who can receive funds in all Formas calls and administrating organisations who can be approved to receive funds in an individual call. The main applicant’s organisation must be approved as an administrating organisation in one of these two forms.
Higher education institutions, government agencies with research assignments and most research institutes are approved to receive funds in all Formas calls. Most other public and private organisations need to be approved as administrating organisations in this call. See also “How to apply”. The administrating organisation must be operating in Sweden.
All projects seeking funding from Formas must have a responsible project manager and be carried out by the people listed in the application. Project managers must hold a PhD in a field relevant to the project but do not need to be active researchers. A PhD degree is required for researchers from an academic party, meaning an applicant from a higher education institute, research institute or other research practitioner. Project managers and participating researchers must hold a doctoral degree by the close of the call at the latest. The project manager must be affiliated with the problem owner organisation or co-applicant party. He or she does not need to be employed but can be engaged as a consultant in the project.
A maximum of two project partners can be included in the project, and one of these parties must be the problem owner. The problem owner must be an active party in the formulation of the application and in implementation of the project. The problem owner must not participate in more than one project application either as the main applicant or a co-applicant.
The administrating organisation can, if necessary, employ staff from outside Sweden or reimburse costs for activities or services outside Sweden, in accordance with the administrating organisation’s guidelines.
Note that companies or other organisations engaged in economic activity cannot receive funds in this call. Operators engaged in certain economic activities, such as municipal companies or trade associations, must, at the time of application, submit proof stating that the project financial statement and accounts are distinct from the economic activity or that the economic activity is purely ancillary. See more information under “Rules for organisations partly engaged in economic activity” and “Mandatory and other appendices”.
Co-funding is not required for your preparatory project.
The organisations involved in the project can apply for a grant to cover both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs can include expenses for staff, equipment, arranging meetings and travel that are directly attributable to the project. Indirect costs, or overhead, are costs shared with other business operations in the organisation, such as for administration, IT and renting of premises.
Salary funding can be sought for hiring a project manager in their own organisation. The project manager can also be obtained through a public procurement process. Funds can be sought to cover consulting assignments as a project manager or for analyses and evaluations of direct relevance to the project, for example.
The total salary amount received for an individual researcher or other participant must correspond to the maximum activity level in the project and must not exceed 100 percent of full-time employment. Participants who receive a full-time pension cannot receive funding for their own salary.
Funding can be sought for a preparatory project that runs for 12–18 months, and for a maximum of 1.5 million kronor.
The project start is 1 December 2021 in Prisma and cannot be changed. The budget in your application must state how you plan to use the funds, and applicants should record the budget based on how the actual costs are expected to be incurred for each financial year. For administrative reasons, Formas can apply a payout plan that differs from the application’s allocation of the budget over time.
Applications with a different requested amount or a project duration that does not fall within the above range will be rejected.
Private companies and other organisations engaged in economic activity that want to apply for grants from Formas must follow specific regulations on state aid. The regulations are based on the principle of EU law, which states that aid to private enterprises normally distorts competition but that certain exemptions are allowed.
Economic activity is usually defined in EU law as the sale of goods or services at a given price on some form of market.
Applicants engaged in both economic and non-economic activity, such as municipal companies or trade associations, must submit proof at the time of application (a statement of separate accounting and ancillary activities). The statement of proof must show that:
- The organisation keeps costs, funding and revenues between economic and non-economic activity clearly separated. The purpose is to avoid cross-subsidisation of economic activity.
- The organisation is regarded as almost exclusively non-economic and the economic part is purely ancillary. The regulations state that a purely ancillary economic activity must not exceed 20 percent of the organisation’s total annual capacity.
In order for the organisations concerned to receive funds in the call, a statement of proof that demonstrates fulfilment of at least one of the above criteria must be signed by a competent representative of the organisation. Further information and definitions can be found in the Framework for state aid for research, development and innovation 2014/C 198/01 (see in particular points 2. and 2.1).
You can write your application in English or Swedish. The popular science description should be written in Swedish, while the abstracts should be written in both Swedish and English.
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 Formas discloses 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. Since Formas has limited possibilities to keep personal data confidential, your application should not contain personal data that is not needed for the application. The popular science description and project abstracts 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 is eager to fund projects that maximise the positive and minimise the 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. Read more about Formas’ own sustainability work.
How to apply
The project manager must create the application in Formas’ application system, Prisma. All the information needed for the application should be registered there.
Please read these instructions carefully, even if you have previously applied for a grant from Formas.
The organisation represented by the main applicant (the coordinating project party) must have an organisation account in Prisma when applying for funding. In addition, the individual employee needs to have a personal account in Prisma. Participating organisations and individuals do not need to have an account in Prisma for this call. The information and instructions that follow address organisation and personal accounts in Prisma.
The person filling in the information must create a personal account in Prisma. If the designated person does not have a personal account, they must apply for it one week before the call closes at the latest.
The administrating organisation refers to the organisation that will receive and administer the awarded funds that Formas pays out. Formas distinguishes between generally approved administrating organisations, who can receive funds in all Formas calls, and administrating organisations who are approved to receive funds in an individual call, such as for Blue Innovation – Preparatory Projects 2021. Learn more about who can become an administrating organisation.
Applicants from administrating organisations approved for all Formas calls
Higher education institutions, most research institutes, government agencies with research assignments and other organisations primarily engaged in research that are approved as an administrating organisation for all Formas calls already have organisation accounts that allow the organisation to initiate and register applications.
Applicants from other organisations
Most other public and private organisations must be individually approved as administrating organisations in this call. At the time of application, these organisations must have an organisation account in Prisma with Formas.
If the organisation has already applied for funding in other Formas calls and thus has an account in Prisma, contact the responsible research officer Kenneth Nilsson (see contact details at the end of this call) and ask that the organisation be added to the list of administrating organisations also in this call, Blue Innovation – Preparatory Projects.
If you do not know whether your organisation has an account, contact Kenneth Nilsson.
Create an organisation account in Prisma
If your organisation does not have an account in Prisma, an appropriate representative should apply for the organisation account on the Prisma website. Apply for an organisation account no later than one week before the call closes. In the reason for your application, indicate that you want to apply for funding in Formas’ call Blue Innovation – Preparatory Projects, the type of organisation and the organisation number.
Create a structure to describe your organisation
The organisation’s structure must have at least one domicile. Domicile refers to the department, institute or unit within the organisation applying for funding. Information on domicile is mandatory when the applicant submits the application.
All limits for the maximum number of characters refer to characters including spaces. We recommend that you choose the Arial font in font size 12 for the information you enter in all text boxes.
Your application must include a clear description of the project under the following sections:
- Number of months applied for.
- Starting month December 2021
- Project title in Swedish and English (max. 200 characters including spaces).
- Popular science description in Swedish (max. 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. The contents of this field should therefore not contain sensitive information.
- Abstract in Swedish and English (max. 1,500 characters each 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.
The project description should include the information below and can be written in Swedish or English.
- Description of the challenge identified by the problem owner
- Which parties will be members of the preparatory project and why they are appropriate
- Incentives and drivers for solving the challenge
- Vision: If you are awarded funding for an implementation project, what will you have achieved in 5-10 years? Who do you think you need to collaborate with in the next step to achieve this vision? How do you hope the project will help to increase sustainability?
- Implementation plan related to the final reporting requirements (listed below, see also “Reporting for awarded projects”) and the resulting resource and funding needs, for example for meetings and communication.
Final reporting requirements, a summary of:
- A needs analysis that clearly describes the challenge.
- Description of the state of the art showing that the need is not already met.
- A system analysis describing the technical, social and regulatory conditions that the project should take into account and the system-level shift that the project can result in.
- A preliminary estimate of the extent to which the solution will help to increase sustainability, in terms of economic, social or environmental gains
- Which parties are members of the network and how the project has been anchored.
- A preliminary communication plan during an implementation project.
- Assurance from the problem owner that the preparatory project and a possible implementation project are anchored with management or the governing body
If you need figures, tables or images to describe the project, you can upload them as a PDF attachment (max. 4 MB). See more information under “Mandatory and other appendices”.
List of references
References that corroborate the project description can include publications, previous works relevant to the project and similar. The list of references should be uploaded as a file no longer than two pages.
Budget and other information
You report the project budget and other information about all participating organisations in Prisma. Write out the total amount in kronor using digits. For example, 1 million kronor should be written as: 1 000 000 kronor.
Information about the main applicant’s organisation and each project party
This is mandatory information and must be completed for each party in the project. The information should be collected and filled in by the main applicant.
- Name of the organisation
- Corporate identity number
- Address, postal code, city, country
- Annual turnover (the total sales or turnover of the higher education institution, research institute, company or organisation during the previous fiscal year), stated using digits. Example: 3 500 000.
- Balance sheet total (the sum of either the assets page or liabilities and equity from the company’s or organisation’s balance sheet), stated using digits. Example: 5 500 000.
- Number of employees
- Contact person
- E-mail of contact person
- Name of the workplace, address, postal code, city and country where most of the work will be carried out.
- Statement of proof that this project’s finances will be kept separate from other economic activity (applies to trade associations and municipal companies, for example)
- Personnel costs: Eligible staff expenses at organisations that partly engage in economic activity can be estimated at a maximum of 800 kronor per hour. Higher education institutions or research institutes are not subject to this limitation. The amount that employees of higher education institutions or research institutes may be awarded must not exceed 100% 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.
- Equipment, buildings and land: The total maximum amount you can be granted for equipment and equipment depreciation costs is 500,000 SEK.
- Consultancy and licensing costs: For the costs of consultancy services to be eligible for funding, they must be purchased or licensed from external actors at market prices, and their services and scope must be stated in the project description.
- Other direct costs: Other direct costs can include the cost of consumables, travel, meetings and publication fees for open-access journals and databases.
- Indirect costs: Higher education institutions and research institutes may charge a markup for indirect costs according to the applicable full-cost pricing method. Other project participants may charge a markup for indirect costs of up to 30 percent of their eligible staff expenses. Formas does not grant funds for overhead on costs that you write off for equipment or for premises.
There are four types of funding an applicant can specify in the application:
- Applied funding from Formas: Indicates the amount requested from Formas under the call. The amount cannot exceed the total costs. If the amount sought is less than the total costs, the remaining amounts will be automatically calculated and reported under “Self-funding”.
- Other funding (state): If Formas or another public funder contributes funding for related projects.
- Other funding (private): If another private company or organisation contributes funding to the project.
- Self-finance: If the project party contributes its own funding, this is calculated automatically and displayed in the field for self-funding.
Justification of budgeted personnel costs
Here, you specify the average hourly cost for budgeted staff expenses. Staff expenses refer to salaries including social security contributions and other mandatory charges associated with salaries. (Maximum 500 characters including spaces.)
In the main applicant’s own words, they should explain the budget and state the overhead costs included in the application. Formas does not grant funding for overhead costs that you write off for equipment or premises.
You also specify any consultancy costs and the scope of the consultant’s participation. Also specify which project participants will pay for the consultancy costs. The applicant is encouraged to clearly describe all costs related to the project activities. (Maximum 9,000 characters including spaces.)
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. If you do not have ethical concerns, you still need to confirm this in your application.
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.
Even if you do not expect your research to involve ethical concerns, you should state that this is the case in your application and briefly explain why.
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 the project’s subject area and add a sub-heading.
- Research topic (SCB code)
Select at least one research topic and two sublevels that together form the entire code.
- Sustainable development goals
Select up to three sustainable development goals (SDGs) the project can help to achieve, in order of relevance.
Enter at least one and a maximum of three keywords describing the project.
Administrating organisation – the organisation receiving the grant
The administrating organisation (main applicant) is the organisation that will receive and manage the funds that Formas pays out to awarded projects. The organisation listed as the administrating organisation must be the same organisation (corporate identity number) as the coordinating organisation under company information/budget.
- Select the administrating organisation from the dropdown list. If you cannot find the organisation that will be the main applicant, see the “Organisation account” heading under “How to apply”.
- Select the domicile from the dropdown list. If you cannot find the correct domicile, see “Applicants from other organisations” under “How to apply”.
- A registered application is automatically sent to the person responsible for the organisation account after the call closes. The organisation account manager or other signing officer then has seven business days to digitally sign the application in Prisma.
List of participants
State all project participants with their name, organisation and role in the project. Fill in the information in any table style, save the document as a PDF file, and upload under the mandatory appendices in Prisma. You can only upload files in PDF format in Prisma.
CVs of project participants
The CVs of all project participants should be added to the application as a single PDF attachment (max. size 10 MB). The recommended length for each CV is a maximum of 2 A4 pages.
In this call, researchers at generally approved administrating organisations (approved for all Formas calls) cannot link to CV information that is already entered in Prisma. This is done to enable an equal assessment of the applications we receive.
Mandatory and other appendices
For each applicant, a list of project participants must be included as an appendix (see “List of participants”).
Applicants engaged in both economic and non-economic activity, such as municipal companies or trade associations, must submit proof at the time of application called a statement of separate accounting and ancillary activities. See also “Rules for organisations partly engaged in economic activity”.
You can, but are not required to, upload maps, figures, tables or illustrations that are relevant to the application (max. 4 MB).
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 procedural requirements will be verified in this call:
- The administrating organisation has signed the application. This must be done within seven calendar days after the call closes or after the application has been submitted and assigned a reference number.
- The application’s focus falls within Formas’ areas of responsibility.
- The focus of the application falls within the call’s scope.
- The application is complete and contains all mandatory information stated under the heading “Information your application must include”.
- The requirements for project managers, project participants and organisations under “Applicant requirements” are met.
- The main applicant who has previously received funding from Formas has submitted scientific and financial reports on time.
All applications are assessed by an external review panel based on the contents of the application. It is therefore important to write the application as clearly as possible and include all important and relevant information. As part of the assessment prior to a decision, Formas will consider the project portfolio in order to fund projects that together address a wide range of themes within the call’s framework.
The review panel will be made up of researchers in the relevant areas as well as industry representatives and government authorities with expertise in innovation and sustainability.
The applications are assessed based on the following criteria.
- The project can significantly contribute to the purpose and aims of the call.
- The design of the project and the expected results have taken into consideration the relevant needs and conditions of different groups in society.
- The application clearly states how the impact of the expected results would benefit society.
- The project is of high scientific quality and is innovative.
- The problem formulation and purpose of the project are clear, logical and in line with the purpose and focus of the call.
- The expected results of the project and/or proposed solution are at the forefront of the field, i.e. in relation to the state of the art.
- The project has significant potential for scalability and/or dissemination.
- Planned activities and methods are realistic and appropriate for achieving expected results during the project.
- The time frame and budget are realistic and appropriate in relation to the purpose and objectives of the project.
- The plan for how the results of the project are to be utilised is well described and appropriate.
- Ethical considerations are well described and the plan for how to handle these is appropriate.
- Gender aspects are well integrated into the implementation of the project.
- The project’s organisation and overall competence of the project group are appropriate for the implementation of the project, including the utilisation of the project’s results.
- The project is carried out in collaboration with relevant stakeholders or problem owners. The involvement of project participants is well described and appropriate for the objectives of the project.
- The project group (key actors) as well as the distribution of influence is well balanced between women and men. Relevant for project groups of more than 3 people.
Formas’ Research Council is expected to decide which projects will be awarded funding on 25 November 2021. We publish our decisions the following day at the latest on the Formas website. Notification that a decision has been made will be sent out via email from Prisma. Grant award decisions cannot be appealed.
All awarded projects must submit a report to Formas containing financial and project results within three months of the end of the availability period. The final report is submitted in Prisma.
The final report must include a summary of the following:
- A needs analysis that clearly describes the challenge.
- Description of the state of the art showing that the need is not already met.
- A system analysis describing the technical, social and regulatory conditions that the project should take into account and the system-level shift that the project can result in
- A preliminary estimate of the extent to which the solution will help to increase sustainability, in terms of economic, social or environmental benefits
- The parties that are part of the network and how the project has been anchored
- A preliminary communication plan during an implementation project.
Formas might require you to participate in meetings and similar events in order to create synergies and platforms for learning and knowledge sharing.
Formas shares information about awarded grants to SweCRIS, a national database of grant-funded research that was instituted by request of the government.