Contingency planning and competitiveness in the food system – a call for transdisciplinary centres

WHAT CAN YOU APPLY FOR?

Transdisciplinary centres for needs-driven research that contributes to contingency planning, sustainability transition and competitiveness in the food system.

WHO CAN APPLY?

The call is aimed at consortiums of actors, where the principal applicant organisation is a Swedish higher education institution or research institute. Funding is only available to multi-party applications that include at least two (2) academic parties (higher education institutions or research institutes) and at least two (2) stakeholder or end-user organisations from business, the public sector and/or civil society.

HOW MUCH CAN YOU APPLY FOR?

A centre can apply for at most SEK 15 million per year on average for four years.

Co-funding equalling at least 15% of total costs is required from business / non-academic parties.

The total budget for the call is SEK 240 million.

Current: 91 Days left. Apply before: 2024-05-30 14:00

Formas is announcing a call to fund transdisciplinary research centres that can contribute to the sustainability transition of the Swedish food system. Centres need to take on one or more complex challenges the nexus between contingency planning, sustainability transition and competitiveness in the food system. The centres should be planned, established, and run jointly by academia, businesses, the public sector, and other relevant societal actors. The main applying organisation is a Swedish higher education institution or research institute. Funding is only available to multi-party applications, where researchers together with stakeholder and end-user organisations jointly conduct research and drive innovation.

The food system is complex and requires cooperation among various actors in society at large and in an integrated food chain. Recently witnessed extreme weather, conflicts, and wars have highlighted Sweden’s lack of self-sufficiency and major vulnerabilities in the food system. The challenges are many: an endemic lack of profitability in primary production, overdependency on imports of fertilizers, fuels, and other commodities, occasional limited access to drinking water and groundwater, increased land-use demand from multiple sectors leading to irreversible conversion of fertile agricultural land, loss of biological diversity, deteriorating soil health, overfishing in lakes, seas and oceans, risks of new zoonoses, geopolitical tensions, and escalating cumulative effects of climate change. All these challenges place new demands on the food system. There are expectations to increase production volumes for both domestic consumption and exports, while improving Sweden’s self-sufficiency in a varied range of food products. Meanwhile, the burden of food production and consumption on the climate, biological diversity, and natural environments on land and in waterways, lakes, and seas needs to be alleviated. In order to meet these growing demands and expectations, every part of the food system needs to be more integrated while actively addressing conflicting goals and promoting synergies. Cooperation is also needed with other societal fields and industrial sectors to support the sustainability transition of the Swedish food system.

Long-term and transformative research and innovation initiatives conducted in collaboration among actors with complementary experiences and perspectives are crucial to sustain a food system transition. Transdisciplinary and cross-sectorial research can help identify conflicting goals and enable transition pathways through a broader system perspective, while building on synergies. Interactions and dependencies within the food system, which include the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability, and interactions across other sectors and parts of society need to be clarified and addressed. Developing the food sector also requires further investments in knowledge and competence development.

This call is an initiative in the framework of the national research programme for food and is a part of the implementation of its strategic research agenda Towards a sustainable and competitive food system External link.. The research programme is part of the national food strategy’s commitment to support research, vocational development, and innovation in the Swish food system. Hence, centres shall primarily address challenges and needs in relation to the Swedish food system.

The extreme weather occurrences of recent years with drought and floods, the pandemic, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have highlighted the significant vulnerabilities of both the Swedish and the global food supply chains. Climate change is expected to lead to more frequent and extreme downpours combined with longer periods of drought and heat waves. The steady loss of biodiversity on land and in our seas and the deterioration of soil health are creeping crises with potentially vast consequences for many cropping systems globally. Sweden faces as well daunting challenges such as low profitability and generational renewal in primary production, overfishing of the seas and irreversible loss of fertile farmland. Recent developments have also highlighted the interplay between geopolitics, civil defence, and vulnerabilities in the global food system. Crises, security threats, and increased instability impact the global food supply, and the consequences for Sweden’s own food supply are becoming increasingly concrete.

Contingency planning, and associated actions, in the food system seeks to ensure the supply of nutritious food for the entire population during temporary or long-term disruptions that may be caused by various types of crises. Research and innovation is crucial to provide scientific knowledge and evidence-based solutions contributing to the sustainability transition, competitiveness and robustness of the food system. An integrated food system that promotes firm profitability and competitiveness, actions for sustainability transition and careful contingency planning is more robust in times of uncertainties and better able to withstand crises.

Potential synergies to achieve these goals simultaneously need to be further investigated. Increased profitability for food producers contributes to more robust domestic production both on land and in the seas. Reduced vulnerability in primary production can be achieved by replacing fossil-based imported agricultural inputs with sustainable locally produced alternatives. Many of the measures shown by research to be effective in reducing the climate footprint of agriculture and the food system are also positive for supporting contingency planning in the food system.

This call is an initiative within the national research programme for food External link. and is a part of the implementation of the programme’s strategic research agenda Towards a sustainable and competitive food system External link.. The agenda is the result of collaboration between various actors in academia, business, public authorities, and civil society. It identifies four clusters of challenges – themes – and a number of driving forces – perspectives. A revision of the research agenda was carried out in 2023 included a new cross-cutting perspective, “Contingency planning and Foresight”, and a new theme, “Competitive business models for companies and value chains”. A shorter summary of the research agenda’s revised themes is available here (in Swedish).

This call aims to promote research of the highest scientific quality to meet society’s need for new knowledge and innovative solutions for the transition to a more sustainable and robust food system. Formas seeks to fund three or four transdisciplinary centres that contribute to competence and knowledge development and promote cooperation for improved contingency planning and competitiveness in the food system.

A centre is a research environment constituted of researchers and organisations that jointly seek to tackle one or more complex challenges. In this case, it is about investigating and drawing on opportunities generated through the interplay between sustainability transition, competitiveness, and contingency planning in the food system. The centres are to be planned, established, and run jointly by academia, business, and other relevant societal actors. The research shall be of the highest quality and at the forefront internationally. The centres are expected to contribute to innovation and societal benefit both in the short and long term. Centres are expected to strengthen the knowledge absorptive capacity of stakeholder and end-user groups, contribute to reducing the food system’s critical dependencies and vulnerabilities, and increase the system’s ability to cope with disruptions in the food chain. Research on the role of policy development in improving the coordination in the food system may also be significant.

The call is open for applications for transdisciplinary research centres, and the research is expected to integrate knowledge and methods from multiple academic disciplines and research fields: from the environmental and agricultural sciences, natural sciences and engineering to the humanities and social sciences.

Challenges within the food system are often multifaceted and interlinked. Addressing such complexity requires increased coordination among multiple stakeholders, since individual organisations do not have the capacity, knowledge, or resources to achieve a system change on their own. Centres are to take on one or more complex challenges consisting of a combination of challenges in the food system, for instance:

  • environmental engineering challenges, e.g. streamlining energy and resource flows (energy, waste, digestate) on land and in aquaculture, producing renewable fuels such as biogas, bioethanol, biodiesel, and hydrogen, or producing alternative inputs and organic fertilisers;
  • agronomic/biotechnological challenges, e.g. new techniques for plant breeding, development of new resistant crops and biological pesticides, and innovations in protein crops;
  • agroecological challenges, e.g. water management and supply, small-scale mixed agriculture, urban farming, organic production, and the development of locally based marketing and business models;
  • policy or regulatory challenges, e.g. design of policy instruments, revamped public-private cooperation, new governance approaches for increased citizen participation in food system transition;
  • organisational and financial challenges, e.g. storage of agricultural inputs and food products, labour-shortage, access to digital payment systems;
  • behavioural challenges, e.g. consumer attitudes and drivers, demand for sustainable and healthy diets at both societal and household levels, and the roles of retail and the distribution system;
  • nutritional and health challenges, e.g. access to clean drinking water, new techniques for improving nutrition quality and in-take in plant-based foods and seafood, role of local food environments, and the production of food with high nutritional values that can be efficiently produced under different conditions and stored for long periods;
  • veterinary challenges, e.g. access to vaccines and medicines for livestock and the impact of crises on the health and well-being of terrestrial and aquatic animals;
  • societal and structural challenges, e.g. access to renewable electricity, functioning transport systems, and functioning IT systems for secure information sharing.

Centres that will be awarded grants shall work in a structured and systematic way to support knowledge and competence development and improve access to expertise for relevant target groups in the short and long terms.

The main applicant must be a Swedish organisation, meaning a legal entity with a corporate identity number. Organisations that meet Formas’ requirements for administrating organisations are welcome to apply for grants.

The research centres are to be planned, established, and run jointly by academia, business, and other relevant societal actors. The call is aimed at a group of stakeholders, where the main applying organisation (administrating organisation) is to be a higher education institution or research institute. Funding is only available to multi-party applications with participation from at least two (2) academic parties (higher education institutions or research institutes) and at least two (2) stakeholder or end user organisations, such as companies or other organisations that conduct economic activity, trade and sectoral associations, municipalities, regional authorities, county administrative boards, government agencies, interest groups, or civil society organisations. Each academic party is to have at least one person with a PhD represented in the application. However, this is not a requirement for non-academic parties.

The call seeks to fund transdisciplinary centres for needs-driven research central to sustainability transition, competitiveness and contingency planning in the food system. Researchers and research groups from all disciplines are welcome to apply or participate. Perspectives from the social sciences and humanities are considered central for supporting the centre’s ability to address complex challenges in the food system. Hence, we encourage and support the integration of these perspectives in the centre’s transdisciplinary approach. In addition, the involvement of sectoral and societal actors in centres should reflect the breadth of perspectives that feeds into the scope of this call. Establishing new cooperations and expanding existing networks is encouraged. Cross-sectoral research centres that can potentially support development and transition by integrating competences, methods, and techniques from other industrial sectors are also welcome to apply.

Centres are expected to bring together national expertise and create the critical mass of actors and resources necessary for a successful collaboration. International research actors may participate if contributing to contingency planning, sustainability transition, and competitiveness in the Swedish food system. Where relevant, this is to be described and explained in the application.

An administrating organisation can be the main applicant for a maximum of two applications. However, an administrating organisation can be a participating party in multiple applications.

An applicant is not allowed to submit the same application multiple times with different main and co-applicants.

Before you apply

Note that this application procedure and the form differ from Formas’ regular calls for research projects. In this call, the main applicant is an organisation, and organisational authorisation is required to initiate and submit an application. See more under “How to apply”.

Note: In this calls, only legal entities may apply. As such, sole proprietorships may not apply for grants or participate.

A centre in this call is a group of research and innovation parties consisting of at least two (2) academic parties (higher education institutions or research institutes) and at least two (2) stakeholder or end-user organisations from business, the public sector, or civil society. Beyond this, there are no limits on the number of participating parties.

We particularly encourage centres to involve small and medium-sized enterprises in the various branches of the food sector (primary production, processing and value-adding, distribution, or retail) as well as agricultural extension or innovation advisory services. It is important to have a broad and appropriate combination of actors able to take on the addressed challenge(s) by the centre.

The centre is to appoint a centre coordinator who is active at least 75% in the position. Note that the centre coordinator may not be the same person that currently leads one of the four centres previously funded by the national research programme. The centre is to appoint a full-time communication officer (i.e. 100% position) with responsibility for facilitating internal knowledge and experience exchanges and elaborating and implementing the plan for communication and practical application of scientific results by end-users (see the section “Communication and outreach”).

The centre coordinator may simultaneously have an ongoing project contribution from one of Formas’ other targeted national and international calls and/or the annual open call, as long as the centre coordinator’s total salary, spread across the different projects, does not exceed 100% funding.

An agreement between the participating parties is to be drawn up and signed during the first year of the centre.

A certificate is to be attached to the application from the main applicant organisation that confirms the hosting, the priority and relevance of the centre for the organisation, and that the necessary resources are made available. This certificate is to be signed by the vice-chancellor or equivalent. See “Required appendices”.

Written letters of intent showing that the centre is well supported by the leadership of the non-academic parties are to be attached to the application. These letters of intent are to show that there is a long-term vision for the centre and that the non-academic party supports the implementation of the research and developed solutions. The letters of intent are to be signed by authorised managers. See “Required appendices”.

During the first year, centres are to submit a detailed plan for communication and practical application scientific results by end-users. This plan needs to include the following:

  • identification of relevant end-user groups and plan to disseminate results;
  • development of a stand-alone website to make the results of the centre widely available to end users and to inform about planned activities;
  • plan for open access scholarly publications;
  • plan for publication of interim reports, policy or research briefs, or any other appropriate media, on the centre’s website to synthesize and publish key results for different end-user groups;
  • plan for creating, implementing, and making available the centre’s activities and results in an inclusive way.

Centres are expected to participate in communication and outreach activities at the request of Formas, e.g. seminars or dialogue meetings with other funded centres as well as conferences and networking events within the framework of the national research programme for food. The purpose is to create synergies and platforms for learning and knowledge sharing between centres and with the private and public sectors, and civil society actors.

The call requires co-funding from business/non-academic parties with a combined contribution of at least 15 per cent of total funding. All types of costs eligible for funding and attributable to the centre can be counted towards the co-funding (see “Budget and other information”). There is an expectation that the co-funding will increase over time.

Companies and other organisations engaged in economic activity that want to apply for a Formas grant are subject to State aid rules for companies and other organisations engaged in economic activity External link.. See “Costs eligible for funding”.

Please note that sole proprietorship businesses cannot be granted funding in this call or participate as a party in the centre.

Companies and other organisations that engage in economic activity that do not have a Swedish corporate identity number cannot receive funds in this call, but may, where appropriate, participate in kind. Applications that include one or more sole proprietorship businesses will be rejected.

Grants are only awarded for a four-year period (48 months).

You may apply for more than SEK 15 million in one year as long as the amount applied for in another year is lower. You may not apply for less than four years, and it is not possible to apply for more than SEK 60 million in total.

The project start in Prisma is 1 December 2024. This date is set by default and cannot be changed. The budget in your application is to specify how you plan to use the funds and applicants register their budget based on how they expect actual costs to be incurred and per year of activity. For administrative reasons, Formas may schedule payments differently from the application’s planned allocation of the budget.

Applications applying for an amount or a project duration outside the above ranges or that do not achieve the lowest level of co-funding (15%) will be rejected by Formas at an early stage and will not be assessed.

The parties can apply for a grant to cover both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include such costs as salary costs, equipment, and travel costs that are directly attributable to the centre’s activities. Indirect costs are costs that are shared with others within the organisation, such as costs for administration, IT, and rent. Indirect costs are also called overhead costs.

Grants applications can be used for costs linked to the establishment and implementation of the centre, for example coordination, research activities, and activities for knowledge and competence development or vocational training. These can include funding salary costs for coordinators, researchers and doctoral students, technical and administrative staff, or subcontractors (at most the corresponding level of activity in the centre), other types of costs (e.g. consumables, premises costs, travel, conferences, publication in open access journals and databases), and depreciation costs for equipment.

Eligible salary costs for companies and other organisations conducting economic activity may be estimated based on the actual costs.

Formas grants can be used to fund research and innovation, where certain activities can be conducted outside Sweden, but the centre is to be initiated and led from Sweden. Activities outside Sweden may only be conducted by research organisations, such as higher education institutions and research institutes. Companies or other organisations engage in economic activities outside Sweden cannot be granted funds in this call. The administrating organisation is to be located in Sweden and approved by Formas. The administrating organisation is responsible for hiring foreign staff if needed and reimbursing costs for activities or services outside Sweden, as per the administrating organisation’s guidelines. Any activities within the centre that are conducted outside of Sweden must be carefully explained and may only be a limited part of the centre.

Note that the total amount of salary received by a single researcher, doctoral student, or other participant is to mirror the degree of activity in the centre and may not exceed 100 per cent of a full-time position. This means that additional funds for salary cannot be granted for researchers, doctoral students, or other staff who already receive a grant for a full-time position. Researchers who are full-time retired cannot receive funding for their salary.

Formas grants funds for annual salary increases and for doctoral students in accordance with existing doctoral student ladders.

Salaries for doctoral students may be funded for up to four years. Doctoral positions funded through the centre are to be designed jointly by the participating parties and should be partially conducted in business or other non-academic parties. These are to take place with co-supervision from business/other non-academic organisations.

Funds, a maximum of SEK 3 million per centre and year, can be applied for to set up and run interdisciplinary graduate schools, i.e. funding of doctoral student projects, supervision, and administration. There is to be a clear purpose and added value with the graduate school and its establishment within the framework of the centre.

Companies and other organisations engaged in economic activities that want to apply for grants from Formas must follow specific regulations on state aid. These regulations are based on the main principle of EU law that state aid to companies normally distorts competition but that certain exceptions are allowed, including support for research, development, and innovation. This call applies the General Block Exemption Regulation EU 651/2014.

Activities will be assessed based on Article 25 of the above stated regulation, primarily industrial research. The aid intensity depends on the support basis, the size of the company, and the composition of the centre consortium. Read more in Aid intensity and definitions for grants as per Formas grant rules External link. (in Swedish).

Applicants receiving state aid when establishing a centre (should the application be awarded funding from Formas) need to be aware that the requirements for transparent reporting of state aid were made more strict in 2023. This means that state aid over EUR 100,000 to a project party (or if it concerns primary agricultural production or the fisheries and aquaculture sector EUR 10,000) are to be publicly reported within the EU. Formas is responsible for this transparency report. Applicants are assumed to understand this requirement for transparent reporting and are considered to have accepted that such public reporting occurs for grants exceeding the threshold amounts.

The application should be written in English, as the review panel assessing the application is international. If an application is written in Swedish, only the centre description will be translated into English before assessment. After translation, applicants will not have the opportunity to see or make linguistic revisions to the application. The popular science description is to be written in Swedish, while the summaries are to be both in Swedish and English. Budgets, budget specifications, CVs, publication lists, and other appendices will not be translated in the eventuality they are written in Swedish.

The font should be 12 pt Arial.

According to Swedish law, your application (including appendices) is considered a public document once it is submitted. This means that anyone can request and read your application. Before disclosing applications, we always conduct a confidentiality assessment but may only redact information as permitted in the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (2009:400).

Formas is limited in its ability to assign confidentiality to personal data. For this reason, the application should not contain personal data for individuals not participating in the application.

If the centre is awarded a grant, the popular science description and the abstracts in Swedish and English will be published in open-access project databases without a confidentiality assessment. As such, the contents of these fields should not include sensitive information.

At Formas, we strive to fund centres that maximise positive and minimise negative impacts on the environment and climate. As such, we encourage applicants to design their centre to enable primarily online collaboration and that any necessary travel occurs in as climate smart way as possible. We also suggest including measures in your planning that minimise energy use and other resource consumption, emissions, and waste. However, this will not be weighed when assessing your application.

Read about Sustainability at Formas.

Formas is tasked with pursuing the sustainable development of society. Equal opportunities and inclusiveness are crucial for this. As such, we encourage applicants, as far as possible, to design their centre so that it can provide knowledge that reflects and is relevant to different groups in society. We also encourage you to ensure that the composition of the centre has a gender balance and that it includes participants with different backgrounds and experiences.

How to apply

This is an organisational call, which must be opened by the Prisma organisational account supervisor at your organisation (administrating organisation). The organisation account supervisor opens the application in Prisma and then invites you as centre coordinator to fill in the application. If your organisation has not previously been an administrating organisation of grants from Formas, it must first apply for an organisation account.

When the application is to be submitted, the organisation account supervisor does so in Prisma. You can read more about organisation calls in Prisma’s user manual under Calls for organisations External link.

Grant applications to Formas are submitted in our application system, Prisma. The application is to be completed for all parties by the main applicant organisation (administrating organisation).

If the individual entering the information needed for the application does not have organisational authorisation, that person needs to have a personal account in Prisma and be invited to fill in the application by the organisation account supervisor.

Note that only the person with organisational authority/responsibility may register (submit) an application. This makes it important that you ensure that the person authorised to register and submit the application is available when the application is to be submitted and that this is done well in advance before the call closes.

Plan and complete your application well in advance before the call closes. If required fields are missing information when the application is submitted, you will not be able to submit the application. An application can be registered and then retracted and registered again an unlimited number of times before the call closes. Once the call has closed, you cannot submit or add information to an application.

The call for applications closes on May 30th, 2024, at 14:00 All applications must be registered before this deadline. No additions or submission are allowed after this deadline (unless specifically requested by Formas).

Apply for a personal account in Prisma External link.

Apply for an organisation account in Prisma External link.

Read more on the Formas website External link. about how to apply in Prisma.

Your application shall present the organisation, vision, and goals of the centre for the four-year funding period. However, the description should take into consideration a longer time perspective, for example, through a possible extension of Formas funding or continuation using resources from other funders or initiatives.

Note that the maximum number of characters and file size for multiple entries in the application has been increased compared with many other Formas calls.

Your application must include a clear description of the centre using the following sections:

Basic information

  • Number of months applied for: 48 months
  • Starting month: December 1st, 2024. Note that the starting date is pre-set in Prisma and cannot be changed, as funding for the first 12 months will be paid out in 2024.
  • Title of the centre in Swedish. Maximum 200 characters, including spaces
  • Title of the centre in English. Maximum 200 characters, including spaces.
  • Popular science description in Swedish. Maximum 3,000 characters, including spaces. If the project is awarded a grant, the popular science description will be published in open-access project databases where the general public and media can access information without further confidentiality check.
  • Abstract in Swedish. Maximum 1,500 characters, including spaces. A concise and clear description in Swedish of the centre and its potential to contribute to increased resiliency, competitiveness, and sustainable transition in the food system.
  • Abstract in English. Maximum 1,500 characters, including spaces. A concise and clear description in English of the centre and its potential to contribute to increased resiliency, competitiveness, and sustainable transition in the food system.

Centre description

Please carefully read the background and the call’s purpose and focus. Also take note of the assessment criteria under “How does the assessment process work?” before completing the description of the centre in Prisma. Address all criteria in your application and keep in mind that the application must provide an operational plan and strategy for four years while also taking into consideration a longer time perspective.

The following parts must be described in the application:

Context, vision and goals (Maximum 15 000 characters, including spaces)

Context

  • Describe the research and knowledge on which the centre is based (state-of-the-art).
  • Describe existing activities within relevant fields of policy and practice.
  • Explain the centre’s contribution and originality in relation to previous and ongoing research and innovation initiatives, as well as relevant policy and practice.

Vision and goals

  • Describe the overall vision and goals of the centre and how they relate to the stated purpose and focus of the call.
  • Describe the impact pathways approach of the centre, i.e. expected results and impact objectives in the short and long terms and how planned research, innovation and application activities will lead to goal fulfilment. Feel free to use a diagram to visualise the components and logical connections of the impact pathways approach (“Appendix J: Illustrations”).
  • Describe the complex challenge(s) the centre is addressing, and how this (these) are linked to the national research programme’s strategic themes, perspectives, and objectives.

Knowledge development, innovation, and expected benefit (Maximum 15 000 characters, including spaces)

  • Describe the centre’s contribution to knowledge and competence development in the food sector and society at large.
  • Describe how the centre’s research questions address synergies and conflicting objectives between contingency planning, sustainability transition and competitiveness in the food system.
  • Describe the scientific contribution and research excellence of the centre, i.e. how expected research results contribute to cutting-edge knowledge development, both in Sweden and internationally.
  • Describe the innovation potential of the centre and the scalability of its expected solutions, based on originality and applicability in practice for the food sector and society at large.

Implementation (Maximum 15 000 characters, including spaces)

  • Describe the overall structure of the planned organisation. Use a division into work packages with associated objectives, results, deliverables, as well as role and workload allocation between parties. Attach a detailed division of work and responsibilities between key individuals/parties (see Appendices)
  • Describe the transdisciplinary approach and how the centre plans to engage non-academic parties in the design, implementation, and utilisation of research results.
  • Describe how the centre will enhance the knowledge absorptive capacity, innovation capability and long-term vocational development among identified stakeholder groups in the food sector and society, and how activities and results will be communicated to these target groups.
  • Describe the centre’s doctoral education activities, including planned doctoral projects, transdisciplinary graduate school courses, and opportunities for increased researcher mobility, i.e. postdoctoral positions, in business, the public sector, or civil society.
  • Describe any risks or obstacles that may arise in implementation and the centre’s proposed ways to prevent or deal with such contingencies.

Organisation and actors (Maximum 15 000 characters, including spaces)

  • Describe the organisation and composition of the centre, in terms of personnel and parties, including management and governance structure. Explain the centre’s commitment to supporting diversity, based on gender and other social categories, and the balance between women and men in allocated roles, power and influence.
  • Describe how the proposed organisation ensures scientific excellence and innovative solutions of the highest possible standard internationally.
  • Describe the scientific competences and allocated roles of the academic parties and how these complement each other and contribute to the centre’s vision and goals.
  • Describe the role allocated to non-academic parties in the centre’s organisation and how their perspectives and expertise are leveraged and contribute to the centre’s vision and goals.
  • Describe how small and medium-sized enterprises and advisory organisations of the food system are involved, if they are included in the centre.
  • Describe the centre coordinator’s experience, expertise, and commitment to lead larger transdisciplinary research and innovation teams, and in collaboration with non-academic actors.

References

References included in the text above are listed in a separate field (5 000 characters including spaces).

Budget and other information

The main applying organisation registers the budget for each participating party according to how the actual, identifiable costs are expected to arise, per operating year (i.e. Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, and Year 4). Note that funds for the first operating year will be paid out to granted centres already in 2024, then funds will be paid out monthly from 2025 to 2027. Funds may still be used 12 months after the end of the project period, but no funds will be paid out during this period.

The call requires co-funding from non-academic parties corresponding to at least 15 per cent of total funding. Co-funding is defined as the ratio between self-funding + other private funding and total funding. Co-funding can consist of cash or in-kind contributions in the form of working hours, infrastructure, or other resources and is listed in the budget.

You submit the centre’s budget in Prisma. In Prisma, write the entire amount that is applied for in Swedish kronor (SEK). For example, one million kronor is written: SEK 1,000,000

Information about the main applying organisation and each participating party

This is required information that must be filled in per party for all parties in the centre. The information is collected and filled in by the main applicant organisation in Prisma.

  • Name of the organisation
  • Corporate identity number
  • Address, postal code, city, country
  • Annual turnover (refers to the higher education institution’s, department’s, company’s, or organisation’s total turnover and sales for the previous fiscal year, written as digits, e.g. 3,500,000).
  • Balance sheet total (refers to the sum of the asset side or the sum of liabilities and equity in a company’s or organisation’s balance sheet, written as digits, e.g. 5,500,000
  • Number of employees
  • Contact person
  • E-mail to contact person
  • Name of workplace, address, postal code, city, and country where the majority of the work will be carried out.

Costs

– Personnel costs

Funding can be granted for actual salary costs for the time spent on the centre. Social security contributions and other mandatory charges associated with salaries should be included. This applies both to companies and other organisations engaged in economic activity (which are covered by EU state aid rules), and to other types of organisations. For employees at higher education institutions or research institutes, the amount may never exceed 100 per cent of a full-time employment. Recipients of complete salary funding from a funding organisation cannot receive additional funding for salary. Researchers that receive a full-time retirement pension cannot receive funding for their own salary.

– Equipment, buildings, and land

The maximum awarded amount for equipment and depreciations for equipment is SEK 500,000.

– Costs for consultancy, licenses, and similar

For the costs of consultancy services and licenses 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 centre description.

– Other direct costs

Other direct costs can include the cost of consumables, travel, conferences, and publication fees for open-access journals and databases.

– Indirect costs

Higher education institutions and research institutes may charge indirect costs according to the full cost principle that they apply. Other participating parties can include indirect costs of up to 30% of their eligible personnel costs. Formas does not grant funds for overhead on costs that you write off for equipment or for premises.

Funding

There are four types of funding an applicant can specify:

  1. Applied funding from Formas: State the amount applied for from Formas under the call. The amount may not exceed total costs. If the amount applied for is less than total costs, the remaining amount will be automatically calculated and listed under “Self-funding”.
  2. Other funding (state): If funds for related research projects have been awarded by Formas or other public funding organisations.
  3. Other funding (private): If a private company or another organisation contributes funding to the centre.
  4. Self-financing: If the party contributes self-funding to the centre, this is automatically calculated in the field for self-funding.

Explanation of budgeted personnel costs

Specify the average hourly cost for budgeted personnel costs. Personnel costs refers to salary including social insurance contributions and other mandatory charges associated with salaries. (Maximum 500 characters including spaces.)

Budget specification

The main applying organisation adds additional information to clarify the budget in words. Explain the overhead costs in the application as per standard practice of the higher education institution or research institute that is the party. Other participating parties can include indirect costs of up to 30% of their eligible personnel costs. Formas does not award funding for overhead on costs that you indicate are for equipment or for premises.

Also specify any consultancy costs and the scope of the consultant’s participation. State which party or parties are responsible for the consulting costs. You are encouraged to clearly describe all costs related to the centre activities. If establishing a graduate school is included in the centre, clearly describe how this will be funded. Note that a maximum of SEK 3 million per year can be applied for funding a graduate school (i.e. doctoral projects, graduate school courses). (Maximum 9,000 characters including spaces.)

Optional budget appendix

As the number of characters for the budget specification above is limited, there is an option to also attach a consolidated appendix explaining the budget for the centre and the participating organisations (maximum size 4 MB).

Ethical considerations

Only included when it is relevant to the implementation of the centre. In case of special ethical considerations, list these here and explain how they will be addressed. Examples are processing of personal data or studies including human subjects or animals. (Maximum 4 000 characters including spaces.) Read more about ethical aspects in Formas’ general instructions External link.

Classifications

Formas uses classifications in analyses and supporting documentation on an overall level. These classifications are made when you state the subject area, SCB codes, and at least one sustainable development goal that the centre can contribute to. Since this is a call within the framework of the National Research Programme for Food and is a part of the implementation of the strategic research agenda “Towards a sustainable and competitive food system”, we request that you also indicate which of the agenda’s main themes and perspectives your application addresses.

  • Subject area

Select the centre’s subject area and add a subheading.

  • Research topic (SCB code)

Select at least one SCB code with two sublevels that combine to form the entire code.

  • Sustainable development goals

Select at least one and at most three sustainable development goals (SDGs) that best match the centre’s research and other activities. When choosing more than one goal, list the goals in order of priority. The goal most relevant to the centre’s activities is indicated in the first box. For more information (in Swedish) about the goals, visit this website External link.

  • Keywords

List at least one and at most three keywords that describe the centre. Choose the one closest to your centre, even if it does not quite fit the area you are active in.

List which theme or themes of the research agenda that your centre addresses. The categorisation should be based on the direct purpose of your centre and planned research activities and the expected application of your results. Note that your centre is to address one or more of the agenda’s themes.

Appendices

Required appendices

Certificate from main applying organisation

Attach a certificate from the main applicant organisation that confirms the hosting, the priority and relevance of the centre for the organisation, and that the necessary resources will be made available (max. 4 MB). This certificate is to be signed by the vice-chancellor or equivalent.

Note that an administrating organisation can be the main applicant for a maximum of two applications.

Letters of intent from participating parties

Letters of intent from all included parties (academic and non-academic) that confirm the organisation’s active participation and involvement in the centre and any co-funding are to be included with the application as a single PDF attachment (maximum 4 MB). Letters of intent are to be signed by the Head of Department, Direct General, CEO, or equivalent.

CVs

CVs for centre coordinators, communication officers, and other key staff of participating parties are added to the application as a combined PDF attachment of a maximum of 10 MB (recommended length per CV is a maximum of two A4 pages). It is thus not possible to link to previously submitted CVs via Prisma, which is often possible in calls for research project grants. This is to allow a fair assessment of CVs from different types of organisations.

CVs should include experience and qualifications relevant to the challenge(s) and the questions that the centre is taking on and to the centre’s organisation and planned activities.

Role descriptions

Describes the degree of activity, areas of responsibility, and roles for participating individuals and organisations in the centre.

List of publications

List of publications for parties where applicable, attached as a PDF (max. 4 MB). Indicate which party the publication list refers to.

Optional appendices

If figures, pictures, or tables are needed to describe the centre’s activities, these can be uploaded as “Appendix J: Illustrations”. This appendix is optional. No more than one appendix can be uploaded (PDF, max. 8 MB).

Coordinating project party

Fill in information about the coordinating project party

  1. Specify the company/organisation and associated information
  2. List the workplace, the place where the main part of the project will be conducted, and the associated information for the workplace
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Fill in the costs for the coordinating project party

  1. Click Edit
  2. The columns for years come from the project time specified in Basic Information.
  3. Fill in costs for each type of cost and year.
  4. Save and close the window.
  5. Total costs are calculated automatically in the summation fields.
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Fill in funding for the coordinating project party

  1. Click Edit
  2. Fill in the applied funding from Formas, per year
  3. Fill in any other funding received from other public funding organisations
  4. Fill in eventual funding received from private funding financier
  5. Self-financing is calculated automatically based on what is entered in the cost and financing sections.
  6. Save and close the window.
  7. Total financing is calculated automatically in the aggregated fields.
  8. Specify the funding organisation’s name if other funding has been awarded.
  9. Funding intensity is calculated automatically in per cent.
  10. Co-funding level is calculated automatically in per cent.
  11. In the budget justification field, explain how the average hourly cost for the budgeted staff expenses has been calculated.
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Project party

Click on Add project party for the project party or parties that will participate, in addition to the coordinating project party (administrating organisation).

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Fill in the sections for information, budget, and financing for each project party in the same way as described for the coordinating project party. See the Coordinating project party section above. Information for the project parties is to be filled in regardless of whether the project party is applying for a grant, i.e. funding from Formas or not. If project parties do not apply for funding from Formas and instead only participate in-kind, state the budgeted project costs for these project parties but enter SEK "0" in the field “Applied for funding from Formas” under Funding for these project parties. Note that subcontractors to the applicant are not project partners in the application.

Project costs and funding

The total specified cost of the project and total specified funding respectively are calculated automatically below following the budget charts for the coordinating project party and other project parties.

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Double check how you filled in the budget tables well in advance of registering your application. Applications with incorrectly filled in budgets may be rejected. Check the following for all budget tables per project party, including coordinating project party and tables for project costs and project funding, respectively, which combine totals from tables per project party:

  • You have added all project partners participating in the project.
  • You have specified the amount of funding applied for from Formas for all the project parties that intend to receive funding from Formas.
  • You have stated other funding for those project parties that have other funding.
  • You have the self-funding required by state aid regulations for companies and other organisations, where relevant.

After submitting your application

First, Formas verifies that your application is within Formas’ areas of responsibility and the framework of the call. If so, the application goes on to a review panel for assessment. If not, it is rejected. An application may also be rejected if it contains formal errors or is incomplete, i.e. missing the information required in the application form or appendices.

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 and does not proceed to review.

The following requirements will be verified in this call:

  • The focus of the application is within Formas’ areas of responsibility.
  • The focus of the application falls within the scope of the call.
  • The application is complete and includes all mandatory information.
  • The requirements for the centre coordinator, participants, and organisations under “Applicant and organisation requirements” are met.
    • The main applying organisation is an academic organisation that complies with Formas’ requirements for administrating organisations.
    • The centre consists of
      • at least two (2) academic parties (higher education institutions or research institutes),
      • at least two (2) stakeholder organisations from business, the public sector and/or civil society.
    • Sole proprietorship businesses are not included as parties.
    • A certificate clarifying and confirming funding and involvement from the host organisation is attached to the application.
    • Letters of intent from all participating parties are attached to the application.
  • That no more than two (2) applications per administrating organisation have been registered.

A credit check is performed of all parties that are companies and other organisations with economic activity that may be relevant for awarding a grant.

Verification is performed of certificates for de minimis aid for those parties where this may be relevant. Note that Formas will request to see this certificate later in the review process and it is not to be submitted in connection with final submission of the application.

Verification is performed of the statement of separate accounting and ancillary activities for those parties where this may be relevant. Note that Formas will request to see this certificate later in the review process and it is not to be submitted in connection with final submission of the application.

The assessment process consists of two phases: (1) quality assessment and (2) portfolio selection.

  1. All applications are assessed by an external international review panel. The review panel consists of both active researchers and individuals from outside academia qualified to assess the relevance of the application. The review panel is appointed by Formas. The quality assessment is conducted in two subsequent steps. First, the application is evaluated based on the description provided in the registered application. As such, it is important that the application is clear and includes all relevant information. Each application is assessed by at least four reviewers. In the second step, the top-ranked centre applications will be invited to a hearing, which is held by all or parts of the review panel online or at Formas at some point during September/October 2024.
  2. Formas reserves the right to apply a portfolio perspective in the selection of granted applications within the scope of this call. The portfolio perspective can only be applied after all applications have been evaluated on their own merits and ranked. The application of a portfolio perspective means that the granted centres overall need to address the breadth of challenges in relation to the scope of the call, contribute to the forefront of research and innovation in relation to the national research programme’s agenda and objectives, and to engage a wide range of research environments, stakeholders and end-users. The granted centres should complement the national research programme’s previous initiatives, including the four centres that received grants in 2020 External link. and research projects from the Sustainable and resilient food systems in uncertain times External link. Consideration will be also given to ongoing centre initiatives in the field of food system research and innovation by other national financiers.

Discrimination in the assessment of applications, such as on the basis of gender, will not be allowed.

The applications are assessed based on the following criteria on a scale of 1–7, where 1 is the lowest and 7 is the highest. All assessment criteria are to be addressed in the application, and applicants must clearly relate the application to these criteria. All criteria are equally important.

Relevance

  • The centre is justified and well positioned based on the current state of research, policy, and practice.
  • The centre contributes to the purpose and focus of the call, which is made clear in the presented impact pathways approach.
  • The centre meets societal and sector-specific needs for new knowledge and innovation in relation to the scope of the call and contributes to the national research programme’s goals and themes.

Potential

  • The centre contributes with short-term benefits and long-term impacts to the sector and society, increasing the ability of the actors to address synergies and conflicting objectives between contingency planning, sustainability transition and competitiveness in the food system.
  • The centre’s scientific contribution, research excellence and innovation potential are at the forefront in a Swedish and international perspective.
  • The centre’s expected results lead to potentially scalable solutions and spur wider adoption and application in the food sector and society at large.

Implementation

  • The centre’s structure and design, including plans for doctoral education and researcher mobility, are realistic and appropriate.
  • The division of labour between parties is clear, realistic, and appropriate.
  • The centre’s transdisciplinary approach is based on a relevant and realistic combination of disciplines and research fields, including from the social sciences and/or humanities.
  • The participation of non-academic parties in the centre’s development phases is well formulated and appropriate.
  • Mobilisation of stakeholder groups and end-users in the food sector and society is justified and appropriate.
  • The risk analysis is clear, and the planned contingency actions are appropriate.

Organisation

  • The centre’s organisation, management, and governance structure are clear, justified, and appropriate.
  • Gender equality and diversity aspects are integrated into the organisation of the centre.
  • The centre’s collective competences and experiences are clearly justified and appropriate for achieving the centre’s vision and goals.
  • The stakeholder and end-users’ engagement in the organisation is clear and well integrated in the centre’s division of labour.
  • Key individuals, especially the centre coordinator, have the experience and involvement required to achieve the centre’s vision and goals.

Formas’ scientific council is expected to make grant award decisions on November 15th, 2024. Decisions are published no later than the following day on Formas’ website and are communicated in Prisma. Grant award decisions cannot be appealed.

Formas will monitor and evaluate the activities and outcome of the granted centres.

All granted centres shall report to Formas in the form of periodic financial reports as well as progress and final reports as per the agreement signed after the decision.

When it comes to reporting, Formas may place demands on the form of reporting to facilitate dissemination and utilisation. This will be indicated in the award decision. Formas may also require the participation of representatives of the centre in conferences and similar events in order to leverage synergies and promote learning and knowledge sharing.

After two years, a status report and a description and explanation of any changes is to be submitted to Formas. This operational monitoring also serves as a basis for future evaluations.

During ongoing grant period, Formas will follow centre activities in order to support their work with learning, impact pathways, and end-user application in accordance with the centres’ vision and goals.

A final evaluation of the centres will be conducted after four years. This summative evaluation will compile and analyse the results and outcome of the centres in relation to the stated vision and impact pathways. The conclusions and recommendations of the evaluators will be made available to the centres. A more detailed description of the design of the final evaluation will be provided in the monitoring plan, which will accompany the award decision.

The intention is that funded centres may be able to apply for an eventual extension through a so-called closed call, where only centres which have been granted funds in this call may apply for additional funds. In that case, extension applications will be reviewed by an external review panel. If an application for extension is rejected, phase-out funds may be awarded. Any eventual extension presupposes a positive outcome in the final evaluation and that funds are available within the National Research Programme for Food.

You can read more about reporting on the Formas website External link..

Results from research funded by Formas are to be published using open access. Read more about our requirements for open access to research results and data. External link.

Centres granted funding are also to draw up a data management plan for the data produced within the centre. While you will not submit this plan to us, you should be able to present it upon request. We recommend that you follow Science Europe’s suggestion for what to include in a data management plan. You can read more about this suggestion in the report Practical Guide to the International Alignment of Research Data Management (PDF) External link.

By signing our grant terms and conditions, you certify that a data management plan will be in place before the research begins and that it will be maintained.

Formas shares information about awarded grants with Swecris External link., a national database of grant-funded research that was instituted by request of the Government.

Contact information

For questions about the content of the call

For administrative questions and questions about Prisma

Updated:23 February 2024