DKK 400 million for 11 international top researchers


VILLUM FONDEN has just granted DKK 400 million for 11 experienced and highly acknowledged researchers within the technical and natural sciences.

It is the first time that VILLUM FONDEN allocates grants for 'VILLUM Investigators'. The grants will give experienced and outstanding researchers from both Denmark and abroad the opportunity to focus on the research topic they are most passionate about at a Danish research institution.

Eleven out of 101 professors have received up to DKK 40 million each for their research over the next six years.

The 11 VILLUM Investigators represent both the University of Southern Denmark, Roskilde University, Aarhus University, Aalborg University, the Technical University of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen. Among the recipients are physicists, engineers, astronomers, mathematicians and biologists.

The research topics are wide ranging from research in unbreakable encryption of communication, research in optimization methods for car design, robots and airplanes with minimum material consumption to drilling and analysis of ice cores in Greenland that can reveal future rise in sea levels and climate changes.

"Each of the 11 researchers have demonstrated innovative and pioneering research of the highest international quality, and each of them have the leadership skills and the potential to build and maintain an international research environment. This will be a significant contribution to the technical and natural sciences - and ultimately society," says VILLUM FONDEN's Director of Science Professor Thomas Sinkjær.

The 11 VILLUM Investigators are:
  • Professor Bjørk Hammer, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University
  • Professor Donald Eugene Canfield, Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark
  • Professor Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen
  • Professor Frede Blaabjerg, Department of Energy Technology, Aalborg University
  • Professor Jens Hjorth, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen
  • Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University
  • Professor Jeppe C. Dyre, Department of Science and Environment, Roskilde University
  • Professor Mikkel Thorup, Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen
  • Professor N. Asger Mortensen, Department of Photonics Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
  • Professor Ole Sigmund, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
  • Professor Per Halkjær Nielsen, Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University

Three funding instruments with curiosity-driven research as a focal point

The VILLUM Investigator Programme is one of three instruments, which all have 'curiosity-driven' research as the focal point.

As something unique, the grant recipients can reapply in open competition with other applicants for the VILLUM Investigator Programme. In this way VILLUM FONDEN hopes to continuously help pave the way for technical and scientific research of the highest quality.

Read more about VILLUM FONDEN's funding strategy in technical and natural sciences here

People, not projects

The VILLUM Investigator Programm is characterized by grants for scientists rather than for specific research projects.

"The object of this programme is to fund talented researchers who gain the potential to make a significant contribution to science and technology research. By funding the 'Investigators' rather than the projects, the researchers will have the freedom to explore - and if necessary - to change the direction of their research. Moreover, they will have the support to follow their ideas until they see results, even if it takes many years", says Thomas Sinkjær.

"It is our privilege as a nonprofit, private charitable foundation to award 'independent' research funds for talented researchers to conduct ground-breaking research in a secure framework. Grants of this size are only possible because the employees in our group work hard every day, so that we can fund ground-breaking research. This makes us very proud," says Jens Kann-Rasmussen, chair of the board of VILLUM FONDEN.

The VILLUM Investigators will be celebrated at an event on April 27, 2017 with the participation of among others the Minister for Higher Education and Science Søren Pind and Villum Kann Rasmussen Professor Charles M. Marcus.

About VILLUM Investigator Programme

The object of the programme is to fund researchers who have the potential to make significant contributions to technical and scientific research at a Danish research institution.

The program is advertised every other year in an open competitive call for proposals. The grant is for six years, after which period, the grantees are permitted to reapply again - and again - in competition with other applicants.

The grant total is up to DKK 40 million, including start-up costs. A proportion of the grant can be used for hiring a secretary, assistant or the like to relieve the researcher of administrative burdens.

Read more about VILLUM Investigator Programme

About VILLUM FONDEN's research strategy

VILLUM FONDEN funds curiosity-driven research in science and technology, powered by the ideas that engage pioneering investigators.

The goal is to foster world-class research at Danish universities and research institutions. We want to support the most talented researchers. In so doing, we hope to achieve innovative research at the highest international level.

We wish to give individual researchers the best possible conditions for pursuing pioneering research, regardless of the current stage of their research career. We want to welcome researchers with trust, freedom and flexibility to enable them to establish creative research environments that allow new ideas to be conceived and nurtured. 

The research strategy is pursued in three main programmes:

VILLUM Investigator: For experienced and internationally recognised researchers seeking to immerse themselves in their research topic. The grant amount is up to DKK 40 million per Villum Investigator, it can be re-awarded, and the timeframe is six years. 

VILLUM Young Investigator: For junior researchers setting up their own research team for the first time. The grant amount is DKK 7-10 million, it can be awarded once only, and the timeframe is five years.

VILLUM Experiment: For bold research ideas that have difficulty fitting into the conventional peer-review funding system. Is open to active researchers of any age, the grant amount is DKK 1-2 million, and the timeframe is up to two years.

Read more about VILLUM FONDEN's research strategy