Preparation and assessment

We provide an overview of the preparation and assessment of an application received by the Knowledge foundation. All applications received by the Foundation undergo a systematic process. The process may differ across our different programmes. The programme-specific processes will be provided in the call for proposals for the respective programme. 

Formal requirements

The secretariat of the Foundation reviews if the applications comply with the formal requirements. If the application does not fulfil these requirements, the CEO of the Foundation may decide to reject the application on formal grounds. 

Applications that do fulfil the formal requirements proceeds to a programme-specific assessment process. 

International peers

In some programmes of the foundation, the scientific/artistic quality is reviewed by international experts (peer-review). The peer reviewers are identified by the secretariat based on their competence within the project’s specific subject area and make an assessment of the project’s scientific/artistic quality based on criteria and guidelines from the Foundation. The peers makes individual assessments, and their statements are shared with the assessment panels to be considered in the overall assessment. 

External assessment panel

All applications that meet the formal requirements are assessed by external assessment panels appointed by the Foundation. 

The assessment panels comprise people from academia and business sector and other relevant actors when appropriate. The panels are appointed with the ambition to have a balanced composition of the competence and experience that is necessary for qualified assessments of the applications. The Foundation strives for the panels to have a span of subject expertise and an even gender distribution. There is an assessment panel for each programme and the panel is steered by an appointed chairman. 

Assessment criteria 

All applications received by the Knowledge Foundation are assessed based on four main overarching criteria: 

  • Strong research and educational environment 
  • Scientific/artistic quality 
  • Benefits for business partners 
  • Implementation 

All criteria are operationalised in several programme-specific assessment criteria that are stated in the respective call for proposals. 

For an application to be recommended for approval, a sufficient level must be achieved within all four criteria. No assessment criterion is more important than the others. 

Assessment process 

Individual assessment 

The assessment panels are assigned applications to read and assess. Each application is read by several assessors. Each assessor makes a written, individual assessment for each assigned application where statements from peer reviewers are considered when applicable. 

The assessments are made based on the overall main criteria and associated programme specific assessment questions. For each main criterion, a written motivation is given a score between 1 and 4. The individual assessments are considered as working documents in the subsequent joint assessment meeting. 


In some of the programmes, a hearing (interview) with key personel of the project is conducted in connection with the meeting of the assessment panel. The call for proposals for the respective programme will state whether a hearing is part of the assessment process. The purpose of the hearing is to give the assessment panel an opportunity to ask supplementary questions about ambiguities in the application. The outcome of the hearing is included in the basis for the overall assessment. 

Overall assessment and ranking of applications 

An overall assessment of the applications within a programme is made by the assessors at a joint meeting where each application is discussed. In the case of identified prejudice, the prejudice assessor leaves the room when the application is discussed (for more information regarding the KK foundation’s rules for prejudice, ask us here). The final recommendation for approval or refusal is based on the respective application’s fulfilment of all assessment criteria, where each assessor’s individual statement as well as eventual peer statements and hearing are taken into account. A ranking is then made of applications recommended for granting. It is the overall assessment of each application that determines its placement on the ranking list. 


Based on the assessment panel’s recommendation and ranking list, decisions on project financing are made by the foundation’s CEO or board, depending on the programme. The Foundation’s long-term ambition is to be a persistent financier, and the board therefore sets an annual cap on total project funding. The number of projects granted therefore depends on the foundation’s financial capacity for project financing. 

Funding decisions cannot be appealed, but applicants are welcome to submit a revised application. 

Specific information about the decision-making process can be found in the call of respective programme. The decision is shared in the application system SBS Manager and the applicant is also notified of the decision via e-mail. 


Once a project has been granted, an agreement is drawn up between the Knowledge Foundation and the main applicant university. 

The agreement is digitally signed by the CEO of the Foundation as well as the project manager, project owner and principal in the application system SBS Manager.