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Open call: Societal Innovation Projects

This is the third call for Societal Innovation Projects (SIPs) within Digital Futures.

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.

Current already established funding schemes under Digital Futures with either ongoing projects or active calls related to, e.g., Collaborative Research Projects, Research Pairs, postdoc funding, and Demonstrator Projects. Societal and Industrial Innovation Projects were launched in 2021 and are an essential part of the Industrial and Societal Partnership Programme (ISPP), formally inaugurated in the spring of 2022. Societal Innovation Projects (SIPs) are a research project funding scheme under the Digital Futures ISPP. KTH schools and Platforms, Stockholm University (SU) and RISE are encouraged to be active in forming SIPs (note that RISE and SU affiliates cannot receive Digital Futures funding for this round of ISPP project calls, see Eligibility below).

Important dates

  • Call opens: 23 September 2022
  • Proposal Submission Deadlines: 5 December 2022
  • Expected decision on Projects: March 2023
  • Expected Start of Projects: Spring/Summer 2023, depending on the duration of project contract negotiations.

Purpose

One ambition of Digital Futures is to generate societal impact with a particular focus on the broader area of Stockholm in collaboration with public actors like the City of Stockholm, as well as Region Stockholm (both are partners of the Digital Futures ISPP). Due to the role of these (and affiliated) public actors, innovation through digital transformation comes with different 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 the corresponding 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.

Scope

While areas of interest to Societal Innovation Projects broadly relate to the Digital Futures research matrix, the Societal Committee has emphasized the following challenges in particular:

  • 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 following the targets for Agenda 2030 while enhancing the quality and minimizing climate impact. Particular emphasis is placed on resource supply and usage in respect of critical resources currently facing significant system challenges in the urban environment, primarily energy, water and food.

However, SIP proposals addressing other challenges in the general context of the Digital Futures research matrix are also welcome.

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.

Eligibility

PIs and Constellation

The following positions/titles/roles are eligible to apply as PI or co-PI:

  • Assistant Professor
  • Associate Professor
  • Full Professor
  • Permanent full-time Researcher (”tillsvidareanställning”) with a PhD degree and 80% employment or more at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

PIs or co-PIs do not need to be Digital Futures faculty when applying but will become Digital Futures faculty if the project is granted.

Societal Innovation Projects must feature a collaboration between academia and government/public entities such as the City of Stockholm and/or Region Stockholm. The involvement of industrial stakeholders, leading to a triple helix constellation, is highly recommended. Digital Futures is open to further participation from public actors, such as Karolinska Institutet (KI), other municipalities, and Swedish regions.

No restrictions on the constellation concerning the academic partners are required. However, forming new constellations within the realm of academic members in Digital Futures is a plus.

Notice that for this project call, RISE and SU-affiliated researchers are not eligible to apply for funding from Digital Futures. Nevertheless, RISE and SU affiliates can still be part of project consortia and might receive funding from the partner funds provided to the project.

Project Duration and Funding Conditions

Societal Innovation Projects can be at most 2 years in duration.

The projects will be funded with a maximum of 1 MSEK overall in terms of Digital Futures funding.

Digital Futures provides funding for ISPP project proposals based on the principle of “fund matching”. Any requested amount from Digital Futures (up to the maximum mentioned above) must be matched with in-kind and/or cash funding from industrial and/or public project partners (see matching conditions below). These external funds must be clearly outlined in a Letter of Intent (one per project partner) submitted together with the project proposal.

For SIPs, the following matching conditions apply for the public and industrial project partners:

  • ISPP members: Any combination of in-kind or cash funding is considered matching funds towards the Digital Futures funding requested.
  • Non-ISPP members: Only cash funding from non-ISPP members is considered matching funds towards the Digital Futures requested funding.
  • A project consortium might also demonstrate access to granted funds from which resources can be dedicated toward SIPs. Such granted funds must be aligned with the scope of the proposed SIP. Cash funds from such grants are considered for the Digital Futures funding requested. If granted funds are to be leveraged in a project, a clear Letter of Intent from the grant holder must be provided outlining the cash funds to be provided to the proposed project.

As a guideline, ISPP members and non-members are requested to provide a minimum of 250 kSEK in total to a project proposal.

SIP projects are subject to signing a project contract among all involved parties after SIP proposals are decided to be funded. The project contract relates to funding and IPR. Consortia submitting proposals under this call are recommended to discuss and align their interests before submitting proposals.

Applicable Funding Policy for Digital Futures Faculty

Researchers can be involved in several projects under different instruments, but within Digital Futures, the funding per individual is limited to 1 MSEK/year. Hence, the funding you may have received under the current Digital Futures instruments Collaborative Research Projects, Research Pairs, Demonstrator Projects, Collaborative projects targeting Diversity and Inclusion, and Seed Projects will be considered. Funding from Digital Futures to ISPP projects (Societal Innovation Projects, Industrial Innovation Projects, ISPP Demo Projects) is included but not the part coming from partners. Digital Futures Postdoctoral Fellows projects or C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute projects are not considered.

Information Meeting

Digital Futures offers an optional information meeting for project consortia to get first-hand information on all call conditions.

This meeting will be held on 21 November at 16:00 CET (4 pm) on Zoom, https://kth-se.zoom.us/j/61014807376. No registration is required.

Evaluation

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

  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 Programme? 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 project’s objectives? Are risks identified and activities for handling risks described?
  3. Consortium qualification: How well does 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 clear are the commitments by partners described?

In step 2, the panel feedback from step 1 will be considered by the Digital Futures Industrial and Societal Board when speaking out a funding recommendation to the Digital Futures Governing Board, which decides about the Digital Futures cash funding of project proposals.

How to apply

  1. Prepare your application according to the project description template: 2022_09_22_DF_ISPP_Project_Template
  2. Send your application file with all supplementary material to: call@digitalfutures.kth.se, and 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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