1 Chemical Sciences Technologiestichting STW Call for proposals Biobased Performance Materials TA-BPM 2015 The Hague, July 2015 The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
2 2 Contents 1 Introduction Background Available budget Validity of this brochure 3 2 Aim 4 3 Guidelines for applicants Who can apply? What can be applied for? When can proposals be submitted? Preparing a proposal Specific conditions Submitting a proposal 8 4 Assessment procedure Procedure Schedule Criteria 12 5 Contact Contact Other information 14 6 Annexes IPR and arrangement for knowledge transfer; Project Agreement Scheme for in-kind contributions by private parties Scope of BPM and focus topics in the call
3 3 1 Introduction 1.1 Background NWO makes funding available for a TA Biobased Performance Materials call. This TA call is strongly connected to the second Biobased Performance Materials call at the applied research institute Wageninegn UR - Food & Biobased Research that also receives financial support from Government through the Top Sector Chemistry. History Active since 2009, the Biobased Performance Materials (BPM) programme, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and industry, is a national research programme aimed at the development of high performance materials derived from biomass. Using a chain approach, BPM has been aiming at creating technology for producing and processing new or substantially improved biobased materials for amongst others application in packaging, electronics and car industry, using a wide range of primary or secondary raw materials, such as oil-crops, sugar beets, potatoes and high-fibre residues. The BPM programme was established using a market-oriented approach, with the material requirements as the starting point and governed by the companies wishes. BPM The objective of BPM is the conducting of pre-competitive research in private-public partnerships (PPP), aimed at further development of biobased polymer materials and products from these materials. Dutch knowledge institutions are working together with researchers from the industry sector in conducting the research. It is a combination of precompetitive, applied research, aimed at answering questions leading to bringing the implementation of biomaterials closer and fundamental, understanding-raising research as well as research aimed at answering questions regarding which new classes of biobased materials with unique properties are possible. There are two main directions in the developmental movements towards biobased materials. On the one hand, there is the development of polymer materials from building blocks derived from biomass and on the other hand, there is the development of materials based on polymers produced by plants and micro-organisms (natural polymers). The second tranche of the BPM programme consists of an applied part to be carried out by Wageningen UR - Food & Biobased Research. This applied part will be complemented by a fundamental part to be carried out by Dutch universities through the NWO New Chemical Innovations Fund (TA-BPM call). NWO, BPM and DPI work closely together to realize and to execute this TA-BPM call. 1.2 Available budget NWO will contribute up to M 1,5 and the private contribution will be minimal k 750. Projects will be granted up to a total budget of M 2, Validity of this call This call for proposals is valid until the closing date, 22 September 2015, CEST.
4 4 2 Aim Aim of TA-BPM The aim of TA-BPM is the execution of a coherent, demand driven, fundamental research programme focusing on the research and development of biobased polymeric materials for industrial applications. Dutch universities will execute the research in collaboration with industry. The TA-BPM programme bears upon a combination of: 1. Fundamental research leading to increased understanding and development of new classes of biobased materials with unique properties; 2. Demand driven research leading to accelerated industrial implementation of biobased materials. The drive behind the research of biobased polymeric materials is provoked by the possibility to obtain (novel) materials from renewable resources and to expand the range of material functionalities and their applications based on nature s concepts and/or bioprocesses. Topics of focus To be more precise, the scientific research is preferably focused on the following topics (see section 6.3 for more information): 1. Polymeric Materials derived from biobased building blocks* or natural polymers** with novel functionalities and/or with novel applications. 2. Investigation of structure-property relationships, focused on polymers derived from biobased building blocks* or on natural polymers**. *Biobased building blocks An important research direction is the production of biobased polymeric materials from novel or modified building blocks, possessing an unique structure and, related to that, own unique properties, thereby introducing new (multi-)functionalities. **Natural polymers This research direction focuses on the direct application of natural polymers, such as cellulosics, starch, chitin, lignin, pectin, natural oils and polypeptides, such as silk and collagen. It may concern both agricultural and horticultural (residual) streams as well as industrially produced natural polymers. Important research questions relate to: - Functionalisation of these polymers to develop new products, thereby using the intrinsic properties of the natural polymer without breaking it down; - Development of new processing technologies to extract these embodied polymers without loss of functionality. The research lines set out above aim at creating new products based on renewable feedstock and exhibiting new (multi-)functionalities to create novel and smart materials (sustainability assessment may be part of a proposal). An example could be a new technology to produce carbohydrate-peptide links through chemical/enzymatic synthesis, thereby yielding improved functional properties. Another example concerns new methods to increase the hydrophobicity via chemo/enzymatic modification to introduce improved surface properties which is important for e.g. the coating and the compounding industry. Another research direction tangent to the design of polymeric carbohydrates (water soluble or dispersible) to encapsulate unstable substances for optimal delivery. Possible applications may be found in the paper & cardboard, coatings, adhesives, nutrition, personal care (cosmetics) and health care (medical/pharma) sectors. Other types of materials may include biocompatible polymers for biomedical implants and new natural rubbers.
5 3 Guidelines for applicants Who can apply? Applications are always submitted by a researcher on behalf of a consortium of companies and researchers. Applications can be submitted by full, associate or assistant professors and other researchers with a comparable faculty position as long as they: are employed by (i.e. have a paid appointment at) a Dutch research university or a research institute that is recognised by NWO 1 and are in the possession of at least a master's degree (MA or MSc) or are otherwise equally qualified and have a position of employment that is secure for at least as long as the throughput time of the application process and the research for which the funding is being requested. An exception to the required length of the appointment can be made for: main applicants with a tenure-track appointment that covers at least half of the required duration. In that case, the applicants must demonstrate in a letter that adequate supervision will be guaranteed throughout the entire length of the research project for all researchers for whom funding is being applied. co-applicants if they can demonstrate that adequate supervision can be guaranteed throughout the entire length of the research project for all researchers for whom funding is being applied. Researchers employed at the non-university part of Wageningen UR (WUR), DLO, the Federation TO2 2 and RIVM are eligible to be co-applicants or members of a consortium. In that way, they can contribute to a project and have access to the knowledge. They will not be eligible for direct financing from NWO, however. Researchers from at least two knowledge institutions are involved in the application as applicant and co-applicant(s). At least two companies must act as co-applicants. Companies are not eligible for direct funding from NWO, but contribute to the research in cash and/or in kind. Commitment of the participating companies must be clear upon submitting the proposal. Other types of organisations that are not eligible for funding directly from NWO can nevertheless also act as co-applicants or as members of a consortium. In this way, they can contribute to a project and have access to the knowledge (for details, see Section 3.5) NWO aims to encourage the participation of SME 3 in the projects and programmes on a large scale. To that end, SMEs are cordially invited to take part in the consortia. 1 See the NWO Regulation on Granting 2 The members of the Federation TO2 are TNO and the 'Grote Technologische Instituten' (GTIs: major public research institutes): Deltares, the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) and the National Aerospace Laboratory of the Netherlands (NLR). 3 In determining if a project participant is an SME entrepreneur the European Commission's definition of SME is used. See ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/facts-figures-analysis/smedefinition/index_en.htm.
6 6 3.2 What can be applied for? The costs that are eligible for compensation are those for: - scientific staff (PhD students, postdoctoral researchers) hired temporarily for the project at the research institution; - analysts and technical support; - material costs directly related to the project. Those could include the costs of chemicals, materials, equipment, knowledge transfer and knowledge utilisation, but also domestic and international travel expenses. Staff costs are eligible in accordance with the most recent Agreement for Funding Scientific Research, signed by NWO, VSNU, NFU, ZonMw, KNAW and VFI. The agreement and the maximum amounts for staff costs can be found (in Dutch) on and A person-specific bench fee will be granted to each PhD student or postdoctoral researcher to (partially) cover things like travel expenses and the printing costs involved in publishing their PhD thesis. The New Chemical Innovations Fund puts the emphasis on the appointment of new scientific staff. The consortia are free to gear the mix of costs that they would like to see reimbursed through the New Chemical Innovations Fund to match their project activities. It will be necessary to present good arguments for the proposed mix in the application. The participating knowledge institutions and companies will use their own resources to bear the costs of the necessary infrastructure and for the supervision of the project staff. In case an applicant or co-applicant works together with other institutions that are not eligible for financing through NWO, for example TNO or a foreign university, those noneligible institutions will bear their own costs. 3.3 When can proposals be submitted? The deadline for submission is Tuesday, 22 September 2015, CEST. Once submitted, proposals may not be revised or supplemented. 3.4 Preparing a proposal If you would like to submit a project application, we advise you to contact one of the individuals listed in Section 5.1. Note that no preliminary application is necessary for any project proposal. The full application is to be submitted all at once. The application must be written in English. The grant application comprises four parts: a fact sheet, the application form, the list of suggestions for referees and a letter of commitment of each participating company. - When filling in the fact sheet you may use only ASCII characters ( plain text ). It is not possible to use formulae, cursive, etc. in the fact sheet, although those may be used in the application itself. - The application form, the form for providing the names of referees and the format for a letter of commitment can be found on the call website. - The form for providing the names of referees and the letter(s) of commitment must be submitted simultaneously with the application form as separate PDF documents via Iris.
7 7 3.5 Specific conditions To encourage the collaboration between industry and knowledge institutions, the private sector and NWO will each finance the partnership projects in different proportions. Every company participating in an application contributes in cash and/or in kind to the project the consortium wishes to carry out. The total amount companies are contributing to the project is of importance for the calculation of the NWO contribution. Cash and in kind Within a TA-BPM project, collaborations between at least two companies and at least two knowledge institutions is required. The participating companies jointly contribute one-third of the project costs; NWO contributes two-thirds. That means that for every euro contributed by industry, NWO contributes two euros. - A preferred research proposal includes 2-4 PhD and/or postdoc positions at different universities such that the proposal complies with the chain of knowledge principle (complementary competences). One PhD position only is allowed under the condition that at least two academic research groups are involved (co-applicants!) and the PhD will combine the groups complementary expertise such that the proposal will comply with the chain of knowledge principle. - Companies contribute to a project in cash and/or in kind. See Annex 6.2 for specific rules. - Only companies that (also) contribute in cash to the consortium count for setting the number of company TA contributors and for the calculation of the contribution from NCI Fund. - Next to the cash contribution, part of the in kind contribution counts for the calculation of the contribution from the NCI Fund. - If an SME contributes in kind, of this 1.8 times the cash contribution of the SME counts for the calculation of the contribution from the NCI Fund. So for a SME that contributes with in cash to a project, a maximum amount of (1.8* =) in kind, and with that in total, counts for the calculation of the contribution from the NCI Fund. If an SME contributes less in kind then is maximal allowed, the lower committed amount counts for the calculation of the contribution from the NCI Fund. See Annex 6.2 for specific rules. - If an non SME contributes in kind, of this 1/1.8 times the cash contribution of this company counts for the calculation of the contribution from the NCI Fund. So for a non SME that contributes with in cash to a project, a maximum amount of ( 3.000/1.8 =) in kind, and with that in total, counts for the calculation of the contribution from the NCI Fund. - In-kind contributions must be essential to the project and be included in the budget for research costs in the project proposal. See Annex 6.2 for the conditions that in-kind contributions will need to meet. - The approved projects will be monitored by the BPM office and the NWO office. - All private cash contributions will be provided to the project via NWO. - All in-kind contributions from private partners must be approved by NWO before the start of the project. - The approved projects will be part of the project portfolio of the BPM programme. Participants are thus part of the BPM consortium and will meet once a year in a private setting, and once a year during a public symposium.
8 8 TKI allowance 4 The Ministry of Economic Affairs can contribute to the project budget of a public-private partnership project. On the basis of the cash contribution of the companies, the TKI Chemie can apply for a TKI allowance from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The TKI allowance amounts to approximately 25% of the cash contributions of the companies to the project budget. 5 TKI Chemie distributes the TKI allowance to the project that generates the allowance. In other words: extra cash input from industry will be advantageous. Thanks to the TKI allowance, projects can normally have access to greater budgets, after the settlement of costs for project management by the NWO office. The project budget is calculated using the tables in the proposal forms. General terms and conditions The following applies to this call: - The NWO Regulation on Granting (see Projects that have been awarded grants are to start within nine months of the date of the grant decision. NWO can decide to withdraw the grant in case this condition is not met. - NWO charges 5% of the total cash project budget for project management. This amount covers partly the organisation and execution of the activities of the New Chemical Innovations Fund and also the organisation of meetings. - The IP-regulation as described in paragraph 6.1. The project partners (the knowledge institutions and companies concerned) must sign a project agreement with each other and with NWO prior to the start of the project; in this agreement, amongst other things, specific arrangements on IP should be made. The project partners are advised to have a draft project agreement ready prior to submitting their application. That will help ensure a rapid start for the project once the grant has been awarded. As a guide, NWO has made a model agreement available on the website of the New Chemical Innovations Fund, > Projectbeheer. 3.6 Submitting a proposal An application can only be submitted to NWO via the electronic application system Iris. Applications not submitted via Iris will not be admitted to the selection procedure. A main applicant is required to submit his/her application via his/her own Iris account. If the main applicant does not yet have an Iris account, he/she must create one via the Iris website of NWO at least one day prior to submission. This is to ensure that any problems with registration can still be resolved on time. If the main applicant already has an Iris account, he/she will not need to create a new account to submit a new application. 4 The TKI allowance scheme initiated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs is carried out by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RvO). Everything that this call mentions in that regard is based on the articles as published in the Staatscourant (Government Gazette). In the event of any dispute, the official wording in the Staatscourant is leading. This call assumes that the scheme will still exist at the moment that a grant from the NCI Fund is awarded and the project concerned will meet the conditions of the TKI allowance scheme. 5 The precise amount of the TKI allowance depends in part on the extent to which amount that the Ministry of Economic Affairs has budgeted for a given year has been exhausted. If TKIs apply for a larger number of allowances than there is budget for, the percentage of the allowance will decrease proportionally. Other factors are also of importance. An allowance percentage of 25% nevertheless gives a good indication.
9 9 With questions of a technical nature, applicants can contact the Iris help desk, which is open Monday through Friday from 11 am to 5 pm. Telephone number: Unfortunately, not all foreign providers support calls to 0900 numbers. Questions can also be sent by to
10 4 Assessment procedure Procedure General In accordance with the agreement between NWO and the VSNU, applicants are to inform their institution that they are submitting a project application. The applicant is to give a copy of the application to the scientific director or dean of the institution or faculty. For each application submitted, NWO Chemical Sciences will assume that the applicant has informed the institution and that the university or the institution accepts the conditions for funding that are in effect for this programme. The NWO Regulation on Granting states that any research financed by NWO must be carried out in accordance with the nationally and internationally accepted standards of scientific practice as stipulated in the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice of 2012 (VSNU). The Regulation on Granting can be found on the NWO website: More information on the NWO scientific integrity policy can be found on the website: The NWO Code of Conduct on Conflicts of Interest is applicable to anyone (including NWO staff) involved in assessing or making decisions about applications. See also: Admissibility The first step in the assessment procedure is a check to see if the application is eligible for consideration. The application is checked for matching the aims of the New Chemical Innovations Fund (Section 2) and meeting the conditions as described in Section 3 of this Guide. The consortium can be requested to provide extra documentation/information of the participating companies. Referees The applicant is invited to provide the names of (a maximum of) ten possible referees with a foreign affiliation by filling in the referee list completely. To ensure confidentiality, the main applicant is requested to upload the referee names in a separate annex via Iris. This list may not include the names of anyone with whom the applicant has collaborated in the past three years, is currently collaborating with or plans to collaborate with. This applies not only to co-authorship, but also to other forms of collaboration. Only referees who are in no way involved with the applying research team and the research proposal are eligible to act as referees. The proposed referees may not be working in the Netherlands. In addition to those proposed by the applicant, other experts can also always be invited to act as a referee. 6 Non-referees The applicant also has the opportunity to indicate the names of a maximum of three individuals who should be EXCLUDED from acting as referees. This is not obligatory. To ensure the confidentiality of the request for exclusion, the applicant is asked to submit those names in a separate to This must also include clear arguments for requesting that this individual/these individuals should not be considered as referees. 6 The code of conduct regarding conflicts of interest can be found on the NWO website: This document mentions potentially conflictive involvements.
11 11 Referee reports and rebuttal International referees assess the applications on the basis of the criteria (see section 4.2). Applicants will be given the opportunity to respond to the anonymised referees' reports during an oral interview ( rebuttal ) with the PPP Committee (see below). If there is a high number of applications, applicants shall be requested to send in a written rebuttal which will supersede the oral interview. Also, the PPP Committee may invite selected applicants for an interview. Ranking The NWO Chemical Sciences Division Board is advised to determine the quality and prioritization of applications by a PPP Committee (PPS-Raad) consisting of experts from science and industry. The PPP Committee meets several times a year to discuss applications and rank them. The committee discusses and ranks the applications during a meeting. The members of the committee have copies of the applications and referee-reports (and if applicable the written rebuttals). The committee weighs the arguments of the referees (also between the referees) and the applicant's (verbal) rebuttal and issues both a final opinion and a ranking. If the committee considers the referee-reports insufficient to form its opinion, it can make an additional assessment. The PPP Committee uses the arguments of the referees and the applicant's rebuttal to arrive at an independent assessment of the proposal. The role of the PPP Committee differs from that of the referees in that: the PPP Committee also weighs the applicant's rebuttal in its decision, whereas the referee is not familiar with the rebuttal and thus cannot take that into consideration. the PPP Committee can consider all proposals, referees' reports and applicant rebuttals, whereas the referees normally never see more than one proposal, nor do they coordinate their assessments with each other. This means that the PPP Committee may arrive at a different assessment than the referees. For this TA-BPM call, the NWO Chemical Sciences Board can decide to temporarily complement the PPP Committee with additional experts. Decision-making The Board of NWO Chemical Sciences decides with regard to the acceptance and rejection of research proposals on the basis of the ranking advised by the PPP Committee. NWO assigns a qualification to all fully completed proposals. This qualification will be made known to the applicant in the same letter that informs the applicant about NWO's decision on whether or not to fund the proposed project. For more information about the NWO qualification system, see: Procedural steps for proposals 1. The main applicant is to submit his/her proposal to the NWO Chemical Sciences Division using the Iris electronic application system. 2. The NWO Chemical Sciences Division forwards the proposals to the PPP Committee. 3. The PPP Committee assesses if applications: match the scope of the call (section 2), match the New Chemical Innovation Fund, contains a substantial chemical component, and whether the application meets the conditions as described in section 3. DPI can advise the PPP Committee whether proposals match the scope of the call. The PPP Committee sends its advice regarding eligibility of the proposals to the Board of NWO Chemical Sciences. 4. Proposals that do not meet the above criteria are deemed not eligible by the Board of NWO Chemical Sciences and will therefore not be considered for further processing. 5. The Board of NWO Chemical Sciences sends the eligible proposals to international experts for comments. 6. The PPP Committee invites the applicants to further explain their proposals. They have the opportunity to orally respond to the referees' reports and further questions of the
12 12 Council, or to respond in writing to the referee s reports ('rebuttal') in case of a high number of applications. In case of a high number of applications, the PPP Committee may also invite a selection of applicants for an oral response. 7. The PPP Committee assesses the dossiers at hand, which comprise the proposal and the referees' reports along with any input obtained from the oral explanation or the written rebuttal, and ranks them. 8. The PPP Committee sends its ranking, along with its arguments for that ranking, as an advice to the NWO Chemical Sciences Board. 9. The Board of NWO Chemical Sciences reviews the assessment procedure and based on the advice of the PPP Committee and dependant on the resources available, assesses whether the proposals that have been nominated for acceptance fit within a responsible management of the Fund New Chemical Innovations and decides to make funds available to the accepted proposals. 10. The Board of NWO Chemical Sciences informs the applicants of the decision about their proposal. 4.2 Schedule The indicative schedule for the TA-BPM call for proposals is as follows: July 2015 Call, brochure, application forms, referee lists and guidelines available 22 Sept 2015, CEST Final deadline for submitting proposals September-October 2015 Obtaining opinions from referees End October/early November opportunity to write a rebuttal (only when there is a high number of applications) 26 November 2015 Interview with PPP Committee (in case of a high number of applications this step may be skipped ) 26 November 2015 PPP Committee ranks the proposals & nominates proposals for funding to the Governing Board of Board of NWO Chemical Sciences 10 December 2015 Funding decisions by Board of NWO Chemical Sciences December 2015 Applicants are notified about funding decisions 4.3 Criteria The following assessment criteria hold for this call: 1. Match within the New Chemical Innovations Fund and the presence of a substantial chemical component 2. Match within the topic of the call 3. Scientific quality a. Novelty in chemical research b. scientific approach; b. scientific relevance; c. clarity of focus and objectives; d. feasibility. 4. Quality of the consortium a. track record of the university partners; b. track record of the private partners; c. complementarity and added value in the partnership; d. availability of infrastructure within the consortium. 5. Innovative potential and knowledge utilisation
13 13 a. Prospect for innovation and/or application of results: what is the (expected) need/demand for the envisaged application and the products/processes? On what term can application be expected? Is the anticipated feasibility realistic? What is the success rate that the proposed innovation is realised? Is indicated what is needed to achieve the innovation, either during the project or afterwards? What are the possible bottlenecks in achieving the innovation? Which potential end users has one in mind and how will these be involved? b. contribution concerning content and involvement of private partners in the project and the (actual) commitment (cash and in kind). 6. Programmatic criteria a. balance between goals and the available means (budget, staff); b. effectiveness of the organisational structure and the project/programme management; c. clear pledge of collaboration and in cash contribution from the participating industry.