Given decision

Sustainable conditions for a circular and bio-based economy

Last day of application: 09/03/2017

Day of decision: 28/09/2017

Formas announces a SEK 55 million grant funding call over three years (2017-2019) within two sub-calls: Research and development projects with a focus on young researchers and research and development projects in international collaboration. The purpose of the call is to improve the knowledge about the conditions, rules and tools needed to facilitate and accelerate the development of a circular and bio-based economy.

Decision list 09 28 2017 (Only in Swedish)


Continued development towards a circular and bio-based economy is essential to achieving the targets of the national environmental quality objectives, the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the global sustainable development goals, and to be able to increase long-term commercial efficiency and competitiveness.

The starting point for a circular economy is that all material must form part of the biological or technological recirculation cycle. Reuse, recycling and repair of products and materials, as well as an increased focus on availability rather than ownership, are central components. The transition to a more circular economy requires rethinking within product design, the development of new business models and market models, efficient policy instruments and changes in consumer behaviour. A bio-based economy can be considered to be a natural part of, and a prerequisite for, a circular economy. The Swedish Government regards Sweden to have good prerequisites to transition to a bio-based economy, thanks to a large supply of bio-based raw material, and to further increase value generation from bio-based sectors, such as forestry, farming, fishing and aquaculture.

Several current strategies and national level initiatives describe the needs and possibilities of society to achieve the development of a circular and bio-based economy, for example the focus area Sustainable production in the Swedish Government's new industrialisation strategy, the Government's strategy for Sustainable consumption and the National Forest Programme.

Focus of the call

To stimulate a continued transition to a circular and bio-based economy, knowledge is required of the factors that both facilitate and prevent such development. Focus and structure of the questions asked may vary depending on the perspective applied – business/producer, citizen/consumer, or an authority perspective.

Within the framework of an investigation commissioned by the Swedish Government, Formas has recently compiled an overview of how ongoing and previous initiatives by Formas and other funding agencies have supported the development of new bio-based materials and products. The investigation revealed that increased focus on market-based, political and consumption-related aspects is needed to supplement the work that has already been done and is currently in progress within this research area.

In the Swedish Research and Innovation Strategy for a Bio-based Economy that Formas developed together with the Swedish Energy Agency and Vinnova in 2012 it was also pointed out that research is needed to identify administrative, economic and other obstacles and driving forces for the possibilities to develop and introduce new bio-based products, processes and services. More knowledge is also needed about institutional prerequisites, legislation, policy instruments, standardisation, branding and certification. Important market- and consumer issues exist not only with the final consumers but also in the industry part of the value chain, for example when buying fuel, chemicals and materials.

In addition to the aspects mentioned above, research encompassed by the call for example includes ethical questions, public procurement issues, decision-making, behavioural science aspects, the importance of social and cultural contexts, as well as different types of consequences resulting, for example, from the introduction of new policy instruments or business models. The call does not encompass research aimed towards the development of a specific product, process or service and instead the project should address a more general issue.

Equality and gender aspects must be addressed in the application and it should also be stated in which ways the research is relevant to different groups in the society. Interdisciplinary research, intersectoral and/or comparative approaches are encouraged whenever possible. The societal value of the research may be viewed from both a Swedish and an international perspective.

The call consists of two sub-calls:

(1) Research and development projects with a focus on young researchers (SEK 15 million annually 2017-2019)

  • The main applicant must either have been awarded his/her doctoral degree no earlier than 8 years prior to the closing date of application for the call, or the funding of a doctoral student or postdoctoral position must be included in the project.
  • For postdoctoral applications the doctoral degree must have been awarded no earlier than 5 years prior to the closing date of application for the call.
  • Guideline amount for project funding: SEK 2 million annually.
  • Project duration: 1 - 3 years.

(2) Research and development projects in international collaboration (SEK 5 million annually 2017-2018)

  • For research fellows or postdoctoral positions incoming to Sweden or visiting abroad.
  • The collaboration may take the form of one longer visit or several shorter visits, with 20-80% of the time spent at the Swedish research organisation for researchers travelling abroad and 20-100% of the time spent at the Swedish research organisation for incoming visiting researchers.
  • The application must include a defined time schedule for all of the planned visits, as well as a description of the benefit and value of the collaboration, both from a societal and a scientific perspective.
  • The visiting research fellow or postoctoral researcher must be the main applicant or a co-applicant for the application.
  • For postdoctoral applications the doctoral degree must have been awarded no earlier than 5 years prior to the closing date of application for the call.
  • Guideline amount for project funding: SEK 1 million annually.
  • Project duration: 1 - 2 years.

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. Parental leave, illness or equivalent break in research activity during the period following the award of a doctoral degree may constitute grounds for exception to the time limits stated above for young researchers and postdoctoral positions and should be clearly specified in the CV.

Note that it is possible to apply for funding in this call even if you have already been granted funding for an ongoing project within a Formas annual open call. The total salary amount provided by funding support from Formas may however never exceed 100% of a full-time position.

Guidelines for applications

What the application must contain

  • Project objectives and aim
  • Project description
  • Potential societal value of the project and communication with stakeholders/end users
  • Budget
  • CV and publication list for the main applicant and participating researchers

The application can be submitted in Swedish or English. Nevertheless, it is recommended that the application is written in English, as Formas mainly utilises international reviewers. If the application is written in Swedish, Formas will translate it into English and the applicant will not get the possibility to check or make adjustments to the translation. The popular science description must however be written in Swedish, and the brief project description must be written both in Swedish and in English.

Evaluation of the application

Applications are assessed with respect to five evaluation criteria, addressing both scientific quality and societal relevance.

Criteria for scientific quality:

  • Research question
  • Method and performance
  • Scientific competence

Criteria for societal relevance:

  • Potential societal value of the research topic
  • Communication with stakeholders / end users

All of the criteria must be addressed in the application and applicants are encouraged to clearly and specifically relate the application to these criteria. The applicant is encouraged to be thorough with the structure and clarity of the application, as the review will be based solely on the information provided in the application.

More information about the evaluation criteria and the evaluation process

Granted funding

Formas' Scientific Council plans to reach its decisions on 28th September 2017. The decisions will be announced shortly afterwards on Formas' website. Decisions about grant awards are not subject to appeal.

Application in Prisma

Applications are submitted via the application system Prisma. To be able to submit an application the project leader and participating researchers need to have a personal account in Prisma.

Link to Prisma

The application should contain the following information:

Basic information

  • Number of years applied for
  • Project title in Swedish and English (200 characters)
  • Popular science description in Swedish (4500 characters)
  • Brief project description in Swedish and English (1500 characters)

Please note that the starting date of the project is pre-selected in Prisma and cannot be changed, as the funding for the entire first project year will be paid out during 2017. The funding may however be used during an additional year after the end of the project period, and final reporting is due three months thereafter.

Research programme

  • Aim and objectives of the proposed project and a background description containing an overview of the research area, including key references (7 000 characters).
  • Description of the project (with references) including a summary of the structure, theory, methods, performance and a plan for scientific publication (15 000 characters). Include the following points if relevant for the proposed project: i) brief description of existing basic equipment, ii) brief description of national and international collaborations, iii) confirmation of compliance with international agreements and regulations, iv) gender aspects, v) who the main supervisor will be if funding for a doctoral student is requested.
  • Description of the potential societal value of the project and planned communication with stakeholders / end users (8 000 characters). Provide a brief description of the potential societal benefit of the project and who the relevant stakeholders are, as well as how the communication with stakeholders / end users will take place. Include references if relevant.


  • Salaries, including social-security contributions (in whole numbers of SEK) applied for from Formas for each project participant in the project. For existing employment positions, the current salary at the time of application (including social-security contributions) must be used for each of the subsequent years. For new employment positions the starting salary at the grant administrating organisation must be used for each subsequent year. Note that Formas does not grant funding for annual salary increases.
  • State the proportion of activity in the project for all participants. This demonstrates if the project participants contribute with services in-kind or have other funding for performing the project.
  • Specify operating costs and costs for premises (in whole numbers of SEK) according to the standards at the grant administrating organisation.
  • Specify equipment depreciation costs if relevant for the project proposal.
  • State indirect costs directly in the project budget (in whole numbers of SEK) according to the standards at the grant administrating organisation. Indirect costs refer to overhead costs (OH-costs). Formas does not permit overhead costs on equipment depreciation costs or costs for premises.
  • Budget specification. All salary costs and other costs must be justified briefly. A description of the total budget for the project, including financing from other sources, must also be described. All other costs applied for must be clearly explained and justified, such as participation in conferences, publication in Open Access, etc.

Ethical considerations

  • These are stated only when relevant to the performance of the project. Read more in Formas general instructions.


  • Select a subject area
  • Select at least one, and at most three, SCB codes
  • State at least one, and at most five, key word(s) that describe the project

The following appendices can be uploaded if relevant for the project:

  • Appendix J. If figures, tables or images are needed to describe the proposed project, an appendix may be uploaded. The total size of the attachments can be maximum 4 MB in the formats jpg, png or gif.
  • Appendix K. Climate and environmental data. Appendix K is mandatory for all project applications concerning climate and environmental research where data collection is included as an important aspect of the project. The information submitted will be part of the review of the application. Based on this appendix Formas may issue specific conditions for data publication and may award funding for this. Please note that Swedish universities, university colleges and other authorities are responsible for the safe storage of data collected as part of their activities. Funding to enable data storage that can be regarded to be within the responsibility remit of these authorities must not be included in the application. Data must be published within a reasonable time period and must be made accessible via relevant national and/or international organisations for data publication. The form for the publication of data that is available from the ECDS (Environment Climate Data Sweden) must be used.

Grant administrating organisation

  • Select your grant administrating organisation and add the project department or institute. Read more about Formas requirements for grant administrating organisations.
  • Approved grant administrating organisations are listed in a selectable menu field in Prisma. If your educational institution is not included in the list, contact your institution as it must create an organisation account in Prisma.
  • When your application is registered and the call has closed your administrating organisation will automatically receive your application for approval. The administrating organisation then has seven days to sign your application.

Participating researchers or administrators

  • The project leader invites participating researchers (i.e. researchers that are co-applicants of the project) and participating administrators (not a part of the project, but persons that help you fill out the application form). Participants must have created their own personal account in Prisma. The project leader invites participants by searching their name and e-mail address in Prisma (note that exact spelling of name and e-mail address is required).


Information relevant to the application is fetched by the applicant from the applicant's personal profile. It is important to also encourage participating researchers well ahead of time to make sure that their CV details in Prisma are complete and up to date.

  • Educational history: Research education, education at basic and advanced levels.
  • Professional history: Current position and longer-term previous relevant positions, postdoctoral visits, research exchange visits relevant to the described research project, as well as any extended period of interruption to the research (for example parental leave, illness or public service).
  • Merits and awards:

Associate professor

Supervision: Doctoral students, postdoctoral students, and exam project students; state the total number in each respective category and provide the names of up to ten of the most relevant supervisions.

Funding awarded in a competitive context, a maximum of the ten most relevant grants.

Prizes and awards, a maximum of the ten most relevant.

Additional merits, including bibliometric summary: Here the applicant must provide a brief summary of his or her bibliometric profile for the past five year period and in total if the applicant's active career is longer than five years (max. 800 characters including spaces). This should include the following: i) The number of publications of different types (such as articles in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, books and other monographs, conference abstracts/contributions, popular science contributions). ii) Any other publications or citation specifications relevant to the research field of the applicant.

  • Under additional merits state also other merits relevant to the application, such as popular science texts and documented experience of collaboration and research communication, a maximum of the ten most relevant.
  • Intellectual property: For example patents and public access software programs developed by the applicant, a maximum of the ten most relevant.

Publication list

  • The main applicant and participating researchers specify up to ten of their most relevant publications. Observe that the publications should be linked from the applicants' personal profiles.


General instructions for applicants to Formas
Formas requirements for grant administrating organisations
Formas instructions for using Prisma
More information about the evaluation criteria and the evaluation process
Prisma user support manual
Apply in Prisma

The call closes and the application must be registered in Prisma at 14.00 9th March 2017. If possible, create your application well ahead of time to be able to get support if a problem should arise. The application can be previewed at any time during the process.

The grant administrating organisation must sign the application within seven days. The signing task will be visible for the grant administrating organisation only after the call has closed. The application will therefore not be signed even if you register it long before the deadline. This is because until the deadline you still have the possibility to unregister you application and make changes to it.

The decision by Formas' Scientific Council is planned to be taken 28th September 2017.

Dialogue meeting about the call

Formas will arrange a dialogue meeting 2nd February 2017 to provide the opportunity to ask questions about the call and to discuss with us directly. More information about the meeting and how you register is published in Formas calendar.

Questions and answers (pdf)

Contact information

Resposible for the call

Karin Perhans, Senior reasearch officer, Formas
Telephone: +46 (0)8 775 40 36

Administrative support

Lars Yngersten, Research administrator, Formas
Telephone: +46 (0)8 775 40 34

Technical support

Prisma support

Karin Perhans