Please note: Deadline for application 2019 has passed. The programme is announced once a year in open competition. We will announce the call at the beginning of 2020. Deadline will be in March and grant approvals in August/September.

The Villum Experiment Programme supports unorthodox ideas in their early phase.

Many research funding schemes welcome original and bold ideas. Scientists must submit their ideas as exhaustive grant proposals, which go through a rigorous review process and are evaluated by the highest measure of excellence. This process might exclude a certain class of breakthrough ideas that are unripe, too risky and even naive at first glance. 

Unconventional thinking

The Villum Experiment is designed to support untested potential breakthrough ideas by providing grants suitable for an explorative phase. The application and evaluation processes underpin ideas in their early phase and aim to facilitate unconventional thinking.  

Ready to take a risk?

With the Villum Experiment Programme VILLUM FONDEN is ready to take the risk and support the ideas which have a limited chance of succeeding, but hold great potential if they do. The ideas might hold the potential to respond to a long-standing question in science, bring a transformative understanding of a central topic, nurture a fruitful new research area or creative method/technology or the like.

We wish to support researchers who trust their ideas fully and who are committed to the risk of failing and learning.

  • The topic of the research must be in line with VILLUM FONDEN’s definition of technical and natural sciences (please see below).
  • The applicant must hold a doctoral degree or similar at the application deadline.
  • Researchers who already hold a grant from VILLUM FONDEN ending later than 31 December 2019 are not eligible to apply.
  • Researchers can apply for DKK 1-2m for up to two years to explore the breakthrough potential of their idea. The budget can cover all project-related expenses such as salary, travel, running costs, etc.     
  • The grant must be hosted by a Danish university or research institution. If required, the research or part of it can take place at universities and research institutions abroad.
  • Researchers can only be main applicant on a single application.

Definition of technical and natural sciences

VILLUM FONDEN supports technical and natural sciences embedded in Danish universities and research institutions. The research can be curiosity-driven or aiming at societal challenges. In all cases, it must have a clear scientific objective.

In relation to ERC’s evaluation panels VILLUM FONDEN supports as a rule ”Physical Sciences and Engineering” (PE1-PE10) and parts of “Life Sciences” (LS1-LS3, LS8). Cases may occur where the research falls partly outside the categories.

VILLUM FONDEN is positive towards interdisciplinary initiatives with a core in technical and natural sciences.

Projects with a pure commercial focus are not supported.

VILLUM FONDEN does not support health or veterinary research, i.e. research focused on the health of humans and animals, including nutrition, medicine, biomedicine, pharmacology and research within diagnostics and methods for examination and treatment. VILLUM FONDEN does not support research which has its main root at university hospitals, or at health science faculties and departments.

Assessment and selection

The proposals are pre-screened by VILLUM FONDEN’s secretariat and the working group for technical and natural science to check that they comply with the conditions stated above. The CV’s are undisclosed and the anonymous proposals which pass the pre-screening are distributed among the four scientific review sub-panels according to the proposal’s research area as expressed by the applicant. The panels terms of reference can be found below along with the review sheet and an overview of the assessment and selection process. The panel members do not see the CV’s and do not know the identities of the applicants.

In order to increase diversity and respect the uniqueness of outliers, each panel member is provided with a decisive vote which she/he can use only once. The panel member has the option to cast the decisive vote for an application which he/she finds to be particularly promising/valuable and therefore deserves the highest priority.

The reviewers pass their evaluations on to the foundation and the applications are ranked according to theirs scores, including the decisive votes.

The CVs are disclosed to a final screening team consisting of members of VILLUM FONDEN’s working group for technical and natural science and the foundation’s secretariat. The screening team checks the researcher's level of expertise within the area of the proposed project. The panel’s ranking is maintained, but applications that fail the screening test are disqualified. A final list of fundable applications is recommended to the board who makes the decision on grants. 

Note: In the first to two rounds of funding, all the applicants put forward by the review panel passed the final screening process. The success rates for applicants in 2017 and 2018 were unbiased regarding seniority and gender.

VILLUM FONDEN holds the right to modify the selection process after the application deadline if necessary. This might postpone the final decision on grants.

Important dates
  • 20 March 2019 at 14:00: Deadline for applications
  • June 2019: Rejection of applications which do not meet the general conditions
  • September 2019: Approval of grant or rejection of application based on the review panel’s assessment.

The application must contain the following documents:

  • Proposal. Max. 10,000 characters (about three pages). The proposal guidelines can be found below.
  • Budget. The budget template can be found below.
  • CV
  • Letter of support from the host institution.

The documents must all be submitted as separate pdf files.

You will be asked to select your field(s) of research from a pick list in the application system. The field categories and a description of each category can be found here. You can select up to three fields of research or optionally type in a new category.    

It is mandatory that you provide us with your ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) which assures that you have a unique ID in our application system and helps us to distinguish you from every other researcher in relation to look-ups in databases such as Web of Science. You can obtain your ORCID here. Your ORCID must be typed in along with your contact information in the application system.

Gain inspiration from previously granted projects

DKK 100m for 53 bold research ideas

In 2018, 53 original ideas receive a total of DKK 100 million.

The significance of an anonymous application

A new research project will assess whether the programme with the unique application and funding process meets the aim of funding bold and groundbreaking research.

Technical and natural sciences

VILLUM FONDEN has the ambition to fund excellent research in the technical and natural sciences. Research powered by the ideas that engage the researchers the most.