Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP) is Sweden’s largest individual research program, and provides a platform for academic research and education, fostering interaction with Sweden’s leading companies. The program addresses research in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and software as enabling technologies for development of systems acting in collaboration with humans, adapting to their environment through sensors, information and knowledge, and forming intelligent systems of systems. WASP strengthens, expands, and renews the national competence through new strategic recruitments, a challenging research program, a national graduate school, and collaboration with industry. The program is conducted in close cooperation between leading Swedish universities with an aim to promote the competence of Sweden as a nation within the area of AI, autonomous systems and software.

Aim and scope

WASP now announces a call for NESTs within AI, Autonomous Systems and Software. NEST is a new instrument in WASP that will encourage Novelty, Excellence, Synergy, and Teams. In this call WASP accepts applications from all the five partner universities Chalmers University of Technology, Linköping University, Lund University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and Umeå University as well as the research groups at Örebro University and Uppsala University that are members of WASP.

A NEST should address a specific strategic high-priority research challenge within WASP with international impact and visibility that requires the gathered competence of a multi-disciplinary team of investigators in order to be solved. The novelty and originality aspects and the relevance to Swedish industry are important.

A NEST normally consists of a team of 3-5 investigators of which one is the PI and the rest co-PIs. Given the multidisciplinary nature of a NEST it can be an advantage to have several sites involved. In this case a plan for how to bridge the geographical distance should be provided. In the special case that the NEST proposal is a direct continuation proposal for a WASP expedition project the number of investigators may be only 2.

The PI should be able to devote at least 25% of his/her time to the NEST. The maximum amount that can be applied for is 4 MSEK per year during 5 years. The total budget in this call is maximum 24 MSEK per year during 5 years, i.e., maximum 6 NESTs. A researcher may be PI in at most one proposal and co-PI in at most one proposal.

Evaluation criteria

The main evaluation criteria are:

Scientific quality
The scientific and technical merits of the proposed research. The potential for the research, if successful, to significantly advance fundamental understanding in the topic area. Relevance to the research areas of WASP.

Merits of the investigators
It is the collected merits of the team of investigators that are evaluated and academic age of participants is taken into account to enable fair assessment of academic accomplishments. It is of importance that the PI both has time and the potential to take on the academic leadership of the project.

Relevance to Swedish industry
The short- and/or long-term relevance to Swedish industry should be explained, e.g., through connections to WARA.

Novelty and Originality
To what extent does the proposed project define new, interesting scientific questions? To what extent does the proposed project use new ways and methods to address important scientific questions?

The project should involve PIs with complimentary skill sets with a base in the WASP domain but with possible extensions into other fields through Co-PIs.


In addition, the following criteria are considered as advantages but not requirements:

Relation to WASP’s core areas
It is an advantage if the proposal relates to and addresses more than one of WASP’S three core areas: AI, Autonomous Systems, and Software. This should not be decided by the academic departments where the investigators are employed, but by the type of research that they do.

Active involvement of industry
It is an advantage if industry is actively involved in the project, e.g., through an industrial PhD student or through WARA interaction with industrial partners.

Age and gender diversity
It is an advantage if the NEST is diversified with respect to age and gender and that gender is considered in the recruitment of, e.g., PhD students, done within the project.

Plan for NEST environment(s) and additional resources
One intention behind the NEST concept is to create several local WASP hotspots with high entropy. The plan for how the hotspots will be created and maintained is therefore an important criterium. It is also an advantage if additional resources can be associated with the NEST. This includes both other resources funded by WASP, e.g., existing WASP PhD students and WASP recruitments, and resources funded from other sources, e.g., university funding, Swedish Research Council, VINNOVA, SFF, etc.

Use of Funding

The intention is that the NEST funding should be used as flexible as possible. It can, e.g., be used for funding of

  • new PhD students, including industrial PhD students. These students should participate in the WASP graduate school. Associated cost for supervision should be included in the budget, either direct or through in-kind contribution.*
  • existing PhD students currently not funded by WASP. These students are not required to be a part of the WASP graduate school even though they participate in the NEST activities.*
  • postdocs
  • existing faculty, including the PIs
  • guests, e.g., PhD students and professors. The guest must have an appointment at one of the departments participating in the application.*
  • research engineers
  • equipment necessary to perform the project.

as long as the annual maximum limit is not exceeded (the total sum granted divided by the number of years of the project (normally 5)).


The WASP expeditions may submit proposals for NESTs also if the expedition is not finished yet. The proposal should in that case contain a special section with information about the results obtained and how the expedition relates to the current proposal. In this case only two investigators are allowed.

Proposal Structure/Format

The proposal should contain:

1. Popular Science Description (1 page)

The popular science description is for communication purposes only and will not be a part of the evaluation.*

2. Scientific Program (6 pages)

The scientific program shall cover a maximum of six page-numbered A4 pages in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing and 2.5 cm margins, including any images. The program should contain the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Research challenge and chosen approach
  3. State-of-the-art and international outlook
  4. Research program
  5. Impact
  6. Industrial collaborations (for example WARA*)
  7. Staffing (Directly funded and in-kind)
  8. Infrastructure needs
    References can be added in addition to the stipulated 6 pages.

3. NEST Environment description (1 page)

  1. Closely related projects and activities in the environment
  2. Forms of collaboration (within and between sites)
  3. HOTspot activities
  4. Communication and visibility plan

4. Budget motivation (1 page)

  1. Direct funding
  2. In-kind university funding
  3. Synergy with other available funding for the NEST

5. Support letters

  1. Hosting university (Only mandatory for the main PI, should be signed by the Head of your department.)
  2. Industrial partners (It is not mandatory to have an industrial partner. There is no minimum requirement of the engagement for industry partners.*)
  3. Other WASP partners

6. Letter of commitment from PI and co-PIs

The PI should be able to devote at least 25% of her/his time to the NEST. The PI can be funded through the NEST initiative or through other funding sources which allows for a commitment of at least 25% in the initiative.*

There is no minimum requirement of the engagement for a co-PI. The co-PIs need to be a researcher at one of the WASP universities (as specified under Aim and Scope) in order to receive funding from WASP. The co-PI’s can be employed by other organizations/universities/companies and participate in the NEST through other funding sources.*

7. CV for PIs

  1. Max two pages CV per PI and co-PI*
  2. List of the 10 most relevant publications + google scholar link per PI and co-PI.
    The list of publications is in addition to the CV of 2 pages.

The above sections 1 – 7 should be submitted as a single PDF file.


If the NEST proposal is a continuation of a WASP Expedition, then the proposal should also contain the following sections:

A. Description of the results obtained by the expedition (1 page)

B. Descriptions of the postdoc recruitments that have been done in the project (1 page)

C. List of publications (incl. in submission) within the topic of the expedition

D. List of joint publications (incl. in submission) with authors from both research groups, within the topic of the expedition

E. Other results of the collaboration (1 page)

The above sections A – E should be attached to the main file such that a single PDF file is submitted.


The main PI should send in the application. The submission must be made at 23:59 on March 1 at the latest.

You need to create an account in EasyChair conference system in order to fulfil the submission. Please note that the maximum allowed file size of the application PDF is 20 MB.

An instruction for how to use EasyChair is found here:

Link to the Submission Portal:


December 15, 2020 Call opens
March 1, 2021 Call closes
September 8, 2021 Board decides accepted NESTs**
October, 2021 Board decides accepted NESTs
March 1, 2022 Project Start


*Additional clarifications regarding the NEST call has been made on February 19th.
** The meeting is postponed and will be held in October.



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