Why focus on social sciences and humanities?
Social sciences and humanities are crucial to understanding the way people, local communities, whole societies and enterprises behave, communicate, make decisions and interact with each other. We know that behaviour relates to, e.g., traditions, habits, values, beliefs, economic incentives and physical space. Thus, social sciences and humanities, alone or in interaction with other scientific disciplines as engineering and natural sciences, have a great potential to finding concrete solutions to major societal challenges.
One clear example of the importance of applying social sciences and humanities is the recent outbreak of covid19. The pandemic has brought and made visible major challenges in our societies such as company closures, unemployment, personal isolation, online education, teleworking, household violence, misleading information, inequity, etc. Social sciences and humanities approaches to these challenges - both in disciplinary and multidisciplinary terms – can help us understand and develop solutions to how to tackle short and long term impacts of a pandemic—and its impact on economic slowdown—on individuals, businesses and communities.
Innovation Fund Denmark (IFD) wishes to invest in projects that contribute to the creation of valuable knowledge and solutions to major societal challenges globally and in Denmark. The call aims for projects that can prove genuine impact and where the qualified knowledge base is verified in practice, as it is IFD’s role to invest in projects that can achieve a broader societal impact. IFD encourages partnerships that with an outset in social and humanities research involve public and private entities; that complement each other’s expertise and that will help implement the project’s results.
Below we list some examples of societal problems/challenges, not in any way exhaustive, that IFD finds relevant to address:
- innovation in the public sector;
- alternative solutions to mental health problems, for example by combining psychology with technology;
- role of arts and culture in community building, recovery and resilience;
- sustainable societal and/or community models;
- innovation potential of meeting new cultures; i.e., how to make use of the immigrants work potential;
- ethical and behavioural issues, such as isolation, household violence, home-schooling, tele-working, “fake news”, inequity and unemployment;
- access and equity to essential services, including digital communications and technologies;
- new ways of organisation; for instance on how to use/own natural resources in a community or other public goods;
- alternative education that promotes an innovative and equalitarian mindset, or other relevant values;
- new unconventional business models that, for example, combine social innovation with a commercial mindset or models that rely on shared economies;
- behaviour and green transition: means to promote desired ecofriendly behaviour;
- integrate nature protection in different activities, such as sustainable tourism and urban design in favour of the environment;
How does IFD choose the projects it will invest in?
We assess applications on the following four main criteria:
- Quality of research and innovation: IFD is looking for cutting-edge ideas with a high level of research and innovation that offer solutions to relevant and specific needs. The research and innovation excellence is assessed in terms of originality, state-of-the-art and combination of new methods. Furthermore, we focus on the partner composition and inclusion of relevant competencies and qualifications that together contribute to the idea, solution and value creation of the project, including potential involvement of relevant international partners.
- Value creation during and after the project period: Value creation is understood in broad terms, among others, as targeted innovation activities that solve major societal challenges. Examples are reduced costs for the society, reduced environmental –or resource footprints, improved quality of life, optimised processes, increased revenue from domestic sales or exports, etc. It is important that the application makes probable an estimated and expected value creation of the project in terms of quantitative and/or qualitative measures, based on expected launch or implementation into the society, even if this happens after the investment period.
- Efficiency of project execution: The application has to have an operational project plan where the project is organised in work packages. We need to understand how the project will come to life, and which steps it will follow. The project has to show deliverables, milestones and stop/go criteria, which will help following and/or adjusting steps along the project. A good project has a team composition that matches the project´s objectives. IFD considers diversity in the projects team as a resource; greater diversity helps bringing the performance on measures such as innovation, collaboration and critical thinking to a higher level. We encourage partnerships that go from public to private and other entities that complement each other’s expertise. Ideally, the main beneficiaries of the project are part of the team.
- Implementation of results: A good application describes how the project results are implemented into society, even if this is after the investment period. We want to know who will use, invest in, or own/manage the project outcome once the investment from IFD has ended.
It is important to note that IFD does not invest in pure research or data gathering projects with no specification of a concrete implementation plan.
I forbindelse med Innovationsfondens bestyrelses behandling af opslaget, Social Sciences and Humanties’ udbudt med ansøgningsfrist den 1. oktober 2020, er afgørelsesprocessen forlænget med nogle dage.
Ved ordinært bestyrelsesmøde kunne der ikke træffes en endelig afgørelse som planlagt, da habilitetsbestemmelser for bestyrelsens behandling af ansøgninger ikke kunne opfyldes. Rent ekstraordinært nedsættes derfor et ad hoc udvalg blandt beslutningsdygtige medlemmer af bestyrelsen, til at behandle ansøgninger under dette opslag. Ændringen har i øvrigt ingen effekt på behandlingsprocessen.
Behandlingstiden for opslaget forventes forsinket ift. tidligere angivet deadline, og ny dato for offentliggørelse er den 21. december 2020.
Grand Solutions is aimed at collaborative projects based on excellent research focused on solutions of considerable societal value. Based on societal and business challenges, opportunities and innovation needs, Innovation Fund Denmark wants to enable cross-disciplinary investments in knowledge institutions and companies – private as well as public.