Given decision

Research for the transition to a bio-based economy

Last day of application: 18/02/2016

Day of decision: Preliminary date 22/06/2016

Fourth call within the program Forest raw material and biomass. Formas announces the availability of a total of SEK 230 million over five years (2016-2020) for research concerning the opportunities and challenges in the transition to a bio-based economy. The aim of the funding is to strengthen Swedish research, increase the collaboration between academia, industry and society, as well as to improve international collaboration within the area.

Decision list (only in Swedish)

Background and focus

The development of a bio-based economy is progressing at an increasing rate on a global scale and the area occupies a central position in the EU framework program for research and innovation, Horizon 2020. To achieve a transition, research is needed within sustainable production and smarter use and processing of biomass, but also within the development of consumption patterns, economic business models and governance. Swedish research within these areas is of high quality and Sweden is assessed to have good preconditions to become a role model country in the transition process. Formas has received increased financing from the Government for research on forest raw material and biomass, as well as new materials and products for a bio-based economy, over the period 2014-2016, and this is the fourth in a series of calls within this area.

The research encompassed by this call may concern for example ecological, economic and political frameworks for the extraction and utilization of forest raw material and biomass from agriculture, forestry and aquaculture; the processing and development of bio-based materials and products; market-related aspects for new bio-based products and services, including consumption aspects; institutional opportunities and obstacles to the transition to a bio-based economy; socioeconomic and technical implementation issues; and other types of considerations including conflicts of objectives. Interdisciplinary and/or cross-sector approaches are encouraged when such are suitable.

For further guidelines concerning societal relevance, see the Formas Research and innovation strategy for a bio-based economy, which Formas was commissioned to compile on behalf of the Swedish Government in 2012, together with VINNOVA and the Swedish Energy Agency.

The call comprises four sub-calls:

  • Research and Development Projects: SEK 30 million annually for five years (2016-2020)
  • Research and Development Projects for Future Research Leaders: SEK 10 million annually for five years (2016-2020)
  • International Collaboration (visiting researchers and postdocs): SEK 5 million annually for two years (2016-2017)
  • Research Schools for doctoral students: SEK 5 million annually for four years (2016-2019)

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 received.

Co-financing from commercial or equivalent stakeholders (such as regions, authorities, stakeholder organisations or municipal companies) of a minimum of 25 percent of the total budget of the project is a mandatory requirement for all projects in all of the sub-calls, with the exception of International Collaboration (for Development and Demonstration projects a minimum of 50 percent co-financing is always required, see Formas Handbook 2015). Co-financing may consist of hours worked in-kind, cash funding and/or costs for example for experiments and equipment. Exceptions from the requirements for co-funding are only made in rare cases, for example for certain types of critically scrutinizing research or social science research where co-financing is judged to be unsuitable and/or extremely difficult to obtain. Any internal funding, 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 funding bodies.

The sub-call for Research and Development Projects provides the opportunity to apply for longer and somewhat larger projects than in the Formas annual open call. A guideline for application budgets is SEK 2 million per year, excluding co-financing. The scope of the project and project budget will be evaluated in relation to the anticipated benefits resulting from the project.

The aim of the sub-call for Future Research Leaders is to support the long-term development of a number of excellent and relatively newly established researchers. A guideline for application budgets is SEK 2 million per year, excluding co-financing. The doctoral degree must have been awarded 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.

In the sub-call for International Collaboration support can be applied for for arriving or departing researchers or postdocs for a period of 1-2 years. A guideline for application budgets is SEK 1 million per year. Collaboration may take the form of a longer visit period or several shorter visits. At least 20 percent 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 doctoral 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 application budgets is SEK 1 million per year, excluding co-financing. The application must include a detailed scheduled overview of the time plan for all of the planned activities within the research school. Close collaboration with e.g. industry, government agencies, municipalities 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, communication and project interdisciplinary synergies a kick-off-conference is planned to be held during spring 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 commerce, government agencies and other stakeholders.


The criteria for eligibility are the same as for Research and Development Projects as stated in the Formas Handbook 2015, i.e. support can be provided for 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 outside of academia).

Application and evaluation

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 normal Formas evaluation criteria for scientific quality and societal value apply for the evaluation of applications in this call, as well as a special criteria for the scope and suitability of intended co-financing (this does not apply to the sub-call for international collaboration or to projects that are assessed to have justifiable reasons for not meeting the requirements for co-financing) and a criteria for excellence and potential of the main applicant in the sub-call for future research leaders. 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.

Note that a number of restrictions are stated in the Formas Handbook 2015 with respect to the maximum permitted working hours in the project and the maximum number of simultaneously 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 (Research Program, 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. Please ensure that applications are submitted in good time prior to 4 pm on the final day for submissions in order to receive help if a problem should arise. Appendix S (signatures) must have been received by Formas no later than 25 February 2016.

The Formas Research Council is expected to reach a decision in June 2016.

Contact information:

Senior Research Officer:
Karin Perhans, Formas, Telephone: +46 (0)8 775 4036, E-mail:

Administrative assistance, Research Administrator:
Kenneth Nilsson, Formas, Telephon (0)8 775 4040,  E-mail:

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

Karin Perhans