A competence center that is granted must conduct needs-motivated excellent research through active collaboration between all the centre's project parties. The project parties in a competence center are expected, in addition to cooperating within the center, to also cooperate with the surrounding relevant environment both nationally and internationally. The activities conducted within a center must result in new or strengthened networks as well as access to new knowledge and skills that meet the needs of business and the rest of society.
A competence center needs to have a clear picture of how it is positioned in relation to existing investments, for example in the form of strategic research areas and innovation areas, existing center investments and research financed via faculty funds. The competence center must be able to show how the activity complements or reinforces previous and ongoing investments.
Furthermore, the competence center must demonstrate the potential to create or strengthen lasting structures and networks to spread knowledge and experience outside the center's organization. This is, for example, through training for both students and researchers as well as skills development for professionals or personnel mobility between organizations in the area.
A competence center can be offered funding for up to 10 years. An approved competence center will receive support for 5 years in a first stage. After evaluation, Vinnova can offer a second funding stage of up to 5 years, based on the results of the evaluation and Vinnova's then current priorities. Vinnova expects an increased share of funding from industry during the second funding stage.
Competence centers that are not offered funding in a second stage will be granted up to SEK 4 million as a lump sum for winding down the activities financed by Vinnova.
Internationalization means, among other things, gaining access to important knowledge and innovation environments in the world as well as to knowledge, talent and technology, as well as collaboration with relevant partners within the center's research area.
For competence centres, this means, among other things, continuously doing external analyzes to identify strategically interesting international research- and development environments to collaborate with in order to cover needs for relevant competences and networks.
The competence centers that are granted must be internationally prominent in their research area and have an action plan to increase international attraction and competition.
Against the background of the above, Vinnova views positively that a competence center consists of both Swedish and international parties. Funding from international companies can be included in the industry's share of the budget. However, only parties with a branch or place of business in Sweden can receive any part of Vinnova's support.
Small and medium-sized companies in a competence center
Vinnova considers it advantageous that a competence center includes both large and small companies and therefore encourages knowledge-intensive small and medium-sized companies to participate in this effort.
Experience from previous competence center initiatives shows that a well-functioning competence center requires active leadership, both via the center leader and the center board, and an active collaboration between relevant parties in business, academia and public activities. The management of a center must demonstrate that they have the ability to create a culture to get individuals and teams to function and deliver, as well as to develop and grow.
Vinnova and all higher education institutions have an equality integration mission with the aim of contributing to achieving the gender equality policy goal that women and men should have the same power to shape society and their own lives. In addition, research shows that equal innovation and research is not only a matter of rights and democracy, but can also mean added value in the form of competence, quality and relevance of results, strengthened innovative capacity and new business opportunities.
Gender equality is a prerequisite for sustainable growth and is found in Agenda 2030 as an objective in itself, but also as a perspective that should permeate the work with all objective. The call for proposals should therefore contribute to an equal social development linked to two main perspectives:
- One perspective is about both women and men taking part in the contribution and participating in and having influence over the project in an equal way.
- The second perspective is about the project analyzing and deciding whether there are equality aspects (sex or gender) that are relevant within the solution's problem area and usefulness.
Equal innovation for those looking for funding
The Central Board must have a balanced gender distribution, i.e. of the board's members, at least 40 percent must be women and at least 40 percent men.