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Closed call: Digital Futures Societal Innovation Projects

This is the first call for Societal Innovation Projects within Digital Futures. Societal Innovation Projects are an evolution of the former Digital Demo Stockholm (DDS) project activities. Digital Demo Stockholm has been an initiative between KTH, Stockholm University (SU), Karolinska Institutet (KI), industry and public stakeholders since 2016.

In 2021, Digital Demo Stockholm has become part of Digital Futures. Therefore, project activities will also be run under Digital Futures. KTH schools and platforms and Stockholm University are encouraged to be active in forming these Societal Innovation Projects. Notice that this call does not relate to Partner Innovation Projects, which are supposed to be called for before the summer break of 2021.

Background

Digital Futures is a cross-disciplinary research centre that explores and develops digital technologies. We bring solutions to great societal challenges in Sweden and globally. We generate knowledge, innovations, and future leaders of high industrial relevance and strategic importance. Digital Futures is jointly established by KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University, and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. Digital Futures awards funding to strategic research projects to support a specific action or project that furthers the vision of Digital Futures. Find out more about Digital Futures here.

The societal dimension is to some extent brought into Digital Futures through the merger of Digital Demo Stockholm with Digital Futures. Digital Demo Stockholm decided by the end of 2020 to join forces with Digital Futures, becoming one pillar in the currently created Industrial and Societal Partnership Program of Digital Futures.

Current already established funding schemes under Digital Futures with either ongoing projects or active calls relate to Collaborative Projects, Research Pairs, postdoc funding as well as Demonstrator Projects. Societal Innovation Projects and Partner Innovation Projects are the next funding scheme to be put in place.

Purpose

One ambition of Digital Futures is to generate societal impact, and here with the focus on the broader area of Stockholm, to work together with public actors like the City of Stockholm, as well as Region Stockholm. Due to the role of these (and other) public actors, innovation through digital transformation comes with a different set of opportunities (scale being an important one), while also involving different challenges. Societal Innovation Projects are the project form in Digital Futures that address this special constellation and needs.

Successful Societal Innovation Projects will bring together actors from the academic, industrial and public space (triple helix), define a promising scope of introducing digital technologies in the public sector, and demonstrate a path towards wide-scale adoption in the triple helix constellation.

While areas of interest to Societal Innovation Projects broadly relate to the Digital Futures research matrix shown below, special attention should be paid to the following three areas:

  • The communication and logistics systems of the future: The region and the city must offer a sustainable, effective transport and communication system for the flows of people and goods where the climate targets for 2030 can be achieved. Participating stakeholders must assist with this by creating more efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly ecosystems for transport and communication.
  • Health and care independent of location: The region and the city must be able to offer healthcare to people regardless of where they are; i.e., offer them the freedom to live rich lives based on individual circumstances without being tied to specific physical locations.
  • Climate-positive urban expansion: The region and the city must work to increase growth in a sustainable environment in accordance with the targets for Agenda 2030 while enhancing the quality and minimising climate impact. Particular emphasis is placed on resource supply and usage in respect of critical resources that currently face significant system challenges in the urban environment, primarily energy, water and food.

Project funding and Eligibility

In this call, up to 2 Societal Innovation Projects are to be selected. Societal Innovation Projects are supposed to be a maximum of two years in duration. The projects will be funded with a maximum of 1 MSEK in total over a period of 1-2 years in terms of Digital Futures funding. Please note that funds are granted in tokens of 500 KSEK.

Faculty members from KTH schools and Stockholm University* are eligible for Digital Futures funding under this project form. Societal Innovation Projects furthermore should feature a collaboration between academia, industry and the City of Stockholm and/or Region Stockholm (triple helix). Karolinska Institutet, other municipalities and regions are encouraged to participate in the projects.

The involved industrial and societal partners are expected to contribute in cash and/or in-kind to the project. The intended involvement shall be demonstrated through Letters of Intent provided together with the proposal.

No restrictions on the constellation with respect to the academic partners is defined. However, the formation of new constellations within the realm of academic partners in Digital Futures (KTH, SU) is a plus.

To be considered for evaluation, proposals must address subject areas at the intersections of the Digital Futures research matrix illustrated below. Alternatively, project proposals might relate to the three impact domains summarized above. In either case, the most relevant societal context and the most relevant scientific context must be clearly stated in the project proposal.

*RISE has chosen to opt-out of this particular call.

Digital Futures Strategic Research Programme: The three research themes Trust, Cooperate and Learn cut across the four contexts Smart society, Digitalized industry, Rich and healthy life, and Educational Transformation.

Digital Futures Strategic Research Programme: The three research themes Trust, Cooperate and Learn cut across the four contexts Smart society, Digitalized industry, Rich and healthy life, and Educational Transformation.

Evaluation

Societal Innovation Project proposals are supposed to be evaluated in two steps. After checking the eligibility constraints, proposals are evaluated first by an external evaluator, which reviews proposals according to the criteria:

The project proposal will be evaluated according to three main criteria:

  1. Potential for societal impact
  2. Project feasibility
  3. Consortium qualification

They are further described through the following questions:

  1. Potential for societal impact: Does the project target an important societal challenge, and does the project’s outcome have the potential to be implemented and scaled to realistic conditions? To what extent does the project contribute to the goals of the Digital Futures Industrial and Societal Partnership Program? To what degree does the project build on the state-of-the-art within its area? Does the project target a specific intersection in the Digital Futures strategic research matrix?
  2. Project feasibility: How well is the project plan described? Are the financial and human resources sufficient to achieve the objectives of the project? Are risks identified and activities for handling risks described?
  3. Consortium qualification: How well do the project’s combined competence, project management, roles, and stated resource requirements correspond to its goals? How well does the application present how collaboration between the public sector, industry, and academia shall be achieved? How clearly are the commitments by partners described? The level of partner involvement will be taken into consideration.

In step 2, the highest-ranked proposals from step 1 will be evaluated by the Digital Futures Industrial and Societal Board (or an interim ISB).

Important dates

  • Call opens: 4 May 2021
  • Call closes: 31 May 2021
  • Decision on Societal Innovation Projects: mid-June
  • Expected Start of Projects: 1 July 2021

Proposal template and Submission

Societal Innovation project proposals are supposed to be 5 pages maximum (excluding references and CVs, Letters of Intent etc.). Each proposal shall follow the structure:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Objectives
  3. Background / State-of-the-Art
  4. Project Plan
  5. Planned Impact
  6. Consortium (composition of the project consortium, as well as project organisation and project management)
  7. Financial Planning

How to apply

  1. Register your application by filling out this Registration Form.
  2. Download the Project description template. Complete the form and send it to call@digitalfutures.kth.se by 31 May, 2021.
    Please include “Societal Innovation Projects call” in the subject of your email.

Contact & Questions

Contact call@digitalfutures.kth.se for further questions. Please include “Societal Innovation Projects call” in the subject of your email.

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