Given decision

Targeted call within the program Sustainable Building and Planning – fifth call

Last day of application: Preliminary 18/02/2016

Day of decision: Preliminary 22/06/2016

The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) announces the availability of funding of SEK 211 million over a five year period (2016-2020) for research in the areas of spatial planning, construction, administration and management of the built environment including all scale categories: regions, cities, city districts, quarters, infrastructure, buildings and facilities. The aim of the funding is to strengthen Swedish research, increase collaborations between different stakeholders in society, as academia, commercial sector, public sector, sector associations and equivalent organisations, as well as to improve international collaborations within the area.

Decision list (only in Swedish)

The call consists of five sub-calls for different types of projects. The sub-calls, with associated budgets, are shown in the following table.

Sub-call 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Research Projects (opportunities for longer and larger projects than traditional Formas research projects)  24  24  24  24  24
Research Projects for Future Research Leaders  10  10  10  10  
Development and Demonstration Projects  7  7  7    
International Collaboration (visiting researchers and postdocs)  5  5      
Research Schools  5  5  5  5  
Total  51  51 46
 39  24
Million SEK per year          

The budgets stated for the respective sub-calls should be regarded as indicative and may be adjusted between the sub-calls depending on the number and quality of the applications submitted.

IQ Samhällsbyggnad (the Swedish Centre for Innovation and Quality in the Built Environment), the Swedish construction industry's organisation for research and development fund SBUF, the Swedish municipal water research fund SVU, the research foundation Stiftelsen Bergteknisk Forskning (BeFo) and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) are collaborating with Formas in the call by contributing joint funding and/or by assisting with avenues of contact with the commercial sector, public sector organisations and other building and planning stakeholders.

Co-financing and collaboration with building and planning stakeholders is a prerequisite for funding support. Co-financing and collaboration must be described and justified in the application. Collaboration may for example take the form of joint development of research questions, which are then investigated in the project by the active participation of different actors. The requirement for co-financing differs between the sub-calls. For Research Projects and Research Projects for Future Research Leaders the requirement is a minimum of 35 percent of the total project budget. For Development Projects the requirement is a minimum of 50 percent of the total budget and for the sub-call for Research Schools a minimum of 25 percent. For the sub-call for International Collaboration there is no requirement for co-financing.  Co-financing may take the form, for example, of funding in-kind (such as worked hours), cash funding, funding of experiments and/or funding of collaborative doctoral students, such as municipal or industrial doctoral students. Any internal funding of the project, cash or in-kind, from university or research institutes does not count as part of the mandatory co-financing requirement. The same applies to funding from other state research funds.

The sub-call for Research Projects provides the opportunity to apply for longer and somewhat larger projects than the traditional Formas research project. A guideline for Formas’ part of the funding of such projects is SEK 2 million per year. The scope of the project with regard to duration and budget will be evaluated in relation to the anticipated benefits resulting from the project.

In the sub-call for Development and Demonstration Projects support for up to three years may be applied for. A guideline for Formas’ part of the funding of such projects is SEK 1.5 million per year.

The aim of the sub-call for Future Research Leaders is to support the long-term development of newly established researchers. A guideline for Formas’ part of the funding of such projects is SEK 2 million per year. The doctoral degree must have been awarded between two to eight years prior to the application date, i.e. at the earliest 18 February 2008 and at the latest 18 February 2014. Parental leave, illness, or other similar circumstance that has prevented research activities during the period following the awarding of the doctoral degree should be specified in the submitted CV and may constitute reason for exemption from the eight year rule.

The sub-call for International Collaboration is intended to provide support for arriving or departing researchers or postdocs for a period of 1-2 years. A guideline for funding applications is SEK 1 million per year. Collaboration may take the form of a longer visit period or several shorter visits. At least 20% of the total funding time applied for must be spent at the home university, as well as at the host university, respectively, but the durations and frequency of visits is determined by the applicant. The application must include a scheduled time plan for all of the intended visits. For applications for postdocs the degree must have been awarded at the earliest five years prior to the application date, i.e. 18 February 2011 at the earliest, and 1 June 2016 at the latest.

The sub-call for Research Schools for Doctoral Students is intended to provide funding for the coordination of the research school and costs related to activities such as courses, study visits, internships and workshops. A guideline for Formas funding of such projects is SEK 1 million per year. The application must include a detailed scheduled overview of the time plan for all of the planned activities within the research education programme. Close collaboration with the commercial sector, industry, property administration and/or the community at large should in the majority of cases be regarded as a prerequisite for the entire duration of the research school, as an important aim is to establish and strengthen the doctoral student's network.

To support collaboration and communication a kick-off-conference is planned during 2017. Attendance and presentation of the project objectives and structure is expected for all main applicants awarded funding in the call, and invitations will be widely issued to the commercial sector, government agencies and other stakeholders.


In accordance with the Swedish Government's 2012 Research and Innovation Bill, Formas will make a minimum of SEK 100 million available during 2016 for a research program that augments the existing research knowledge of sustainable building and planning. This means an increase of SEK 50 million in comparison to 2015. During 2013 -  2014 Formas announced four calls within this research program. According to the Governmental Bill, the research initiative should encompass different research disciplines, take into account the needs of sector-spanning solutions and be performed in close association with the construction and housing sectors, as well as in collaboration with other stakeholders nationally and internationally. The initiatives should be clearly intervention-oriented.

Call for proposals

Sustainable building and planning is a broad term that is intended here to include planning, construction and the administration and management of cities, urban areas, infrastructure, buildings, amenities and cultural and natural environments, in order to achieve improved ecological, economic and social, including cultural, sustainability. Sustainable building and planning must take an all-encompassing perspective and investigate all dimensions of the meaning of sustainability. The major challenges that society is facing impose a need for greater collaboration between different sub-sectors and stakeholders within the different areas of building and planning. This also demands that research into planning, construction and urban development must comprise collaboration and a combination of several relevant disciplines. Examples of the challenges that impose new demands on building and planning are: anticipated climate change, major environmental impacts, efficient use of resources, increased costs for building and planning, social transitions and demographic shifts, issues of democracy and influence, structural changes with diminishing rural regions and an increase in concentration in major urban regions, infrastructural problems, increasing demands for new homes, a well functioning system for provision and functional and energy efficient urban areas, as well as existing urban areas in great need of refurbishment.
The aim of the call is to fund projects that contribute to the development of knowledge and competence within the area of sustainable building and planning. The call includes areas such as urban planning, regional planning, urban construction, urban development and living environments as well as buildings, urban areas, facilities and structures, construction and administration. Applications submitted in response to the call must address issues that advance and critically examine the challenges of building and planning from a sustainability perspective. Preferably the proposed research should be intervention-oriented, interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary, but can also be disciplinary. The call welcomes applications within both technology and natural sciences, as well as within the areas of social sciences and human studies.

The research must collaborate with other relevant stakeholders, nationally and internationally, and work in close collaboration with the building and planning sector and with stakeholder organisations. Collaborations between public and private actors and academia where new knowledge is developed and provides preconditions for that knowledge to more quickly have an impact in practice and enable the objectives of the call to be intervention-oriented should be able to be fulfilled. This call provides opportunities for the different actors to work together.


Funding can be awarded to researchers at Swedish universities, university colleges or research institutes. The main applicant and co-applicants must have a doctoral degree (exceptions can be made for co-applicants from co-financing partners).

Application and time plan

Please note; The same application may not be submitted to more than one of the sub-calls.

The application must be structured in accordance with the general guidelines for applications for funding for research and development projects presented in the Formas Handbook 2015. The Handbook contains a comprehensive description of Formas policy, rules, types of project support and the application procedure, as well as information about how the applications will be evaluated. The application must include a description of how the funding is to be allocated between the different posts and must be divided between direct and indirect costs (overheads). The funding can be used for employing researchers or doctoral students, travel, workshops, sampling, analysis, equipment and other project-related costs (but may not be used for scholarships or education grants for research students). Gender equality aspects should always be taken into consideration in project proposals where this is relevant.

Applications must include a description of the project, budget, CV and list of publications, as well as a description and justification of co-financing and collaboration.

Note: In the Formas Handbook 2015, which applies for this call, a number of restrictions limiting the maximum working hours within the project and the permitted number of ongoing Formas projects. These restrictions apply only to the Formas annual open call and are not applicable for this call.

Applications are submitted using the Formas online system Formas Direct and must include:
Appendix A (Project description, max. 25,000 characters)
Appendix B1 (Budget, downloadable form in Formas Direct)
Appendix B2 (Comments on the budget, max. 2 pages)
Appendix C (CV, max. 8,000 characters per applicant/co-applicant).
Appendix D (List of publications, max. 8,000 characters per applicant/co-applicant).
Appendix L1 (Co-financing, Excel form, download here)
Appendix L2 (Comments and justification of co-financing, max. 1 page)

All of the appendices above are mandatory for application submission.
The call will close and applications must be registered in Formas Direct by midnight on 18 February 2016. Technical support will be available until 4 pm on the final day of application. Appendix S (signatures) must have been received by Formas no later than 25 February 2016.

Together with IQ Samhällsbyggnad, Formas will arrange an 'inspiration and matchmaking' meeting on 17 November, where government agencies and organisations will be given the opportunity to highlight the research needs within sustainable building and planning from different perspectives and where contacts can be established between researchers and representatives of the building and planning sector. See the Formas Calender.

Evaluation and follow up

The applications will be evaluated by a specially appointed panel of experts, comprising active, highly qualified researchers and individuals with the skills to evaluate the relevance and benefits of the research. The applications will be evaluated based on the Formas criteria for scientific quality and societal value (Formas Handbook 2015), as well as a criteria for excellence and potential of the main applicant in the sub-call for Future Research Leaders. Co-financing and collaborations will be evaluated within the standard Formas criteria. Apart from these evaluation criteria, the evaluation panel may also be instructed to pay attention to the spread of topics among the applications.

It is recommended that the application is written in English as it will be evaluated by an international panel of experts.

The Formas Research Council is expected to reach a decision on June 22, 2016.

Contact information:

Responsible Senior Research Officer:
Conny Rolén, Formas, Telephone: +46 (0)8 775 40 30,

Responsible Research Administrator:
Elisabeth Tejme, Formas, Telephone: +46 (0)8 775 4017,

IT support (technical IT issues only)
Jan Danielsson, Formas, Telephone: +46 (0)8 775 4043,

Municipal and industrial doctoral students, collaborative doctoral students - Academia, municipalities, businesses/organisations develop the projects together. The partners that should collaborate are determined by the choice of research topic. The main supervisor for the doctoral student must be within academia, with a deputy supervisor within the municipality/business/organisation.  The scope of the dissertation should be adapted to the needs of the different actors. A part-time position or a Licentiate (Masters Degree) dissertation may be adequate in certain cases.

Conny Rolén