53 bold ideas receive funding from VILLUM FONDEN

10 September 2018

Villum Experiment supports 53 bold ideas for research in the technical and natural sciences with a total amount of DKK 100 million.

VILLUM Experiment granted funding to original research experiments at Danish research institutions for the first time in 2017. The programme awards grants once every year.

Villum Experiment

Villum Experiment funds research projects in the technical and natural sciences. The projects that challenge the norm and have the potential to fundamentally change the way we approach important topics.

The applications are anonymous when presented to international external experts. This is to ensure that the focus is on the research idea and to allow the applicants to think freely in relation to their past merits.

The programme is announced every year in open competition. We publish the announcement at the beginning of the year with a deadline in March and approval of grants in August.

The grant amount is DKK 1-2 million, and the time frame is up to two years.

Read more about Villum Experiment here

Read more about VILLUM FONDEN's funding for research in science and technology here

The 53 experiments, receiving a total amount of DKK 100 million, are selected among more than 400 applications. All the applications have been through an anonymous selection process, where 15 international external experts have assessed the research idea - without having the possibility of taking the researchers' CVs and academic qualifications into consideration.

"VILLUM FONDEN aims to help create space for radical and innovative research, which has the potential to fundamentally alter our approach to key topics. The bold idea, that you might not dare to mention aloud, may challenge acclaimed research even though it does not fit into the conventional peer-review funding system. Through anonymous selection and high risk funding we can contribute by testing the wild and offbeat ideas," says VILLUM FONDEN's Executive Chief Scientific Officer Thomas Bjørnholm.

The researchers behind the 53 experiments range from postdocs to professors and represent 19 different nationalities. They are affiliated with the University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark, Aarhus University, University of Southern Denmark, Aalborg University, Roskilde University, GEUS and the IT University of Copenhagen. Below - an overview of all the experiments.

An experiment – for the foundation as well

One of the research experiments will examine data from previous earthquakes and test a new approach for the prediction of earthquakes, known as the Holy Grail of earthquake science. If successful one common way of predicting earthquakes may be found.

Another experiment tests the effect microorganisms from sea ice have on sky formation in the Arctic when the ice melts. This process has not been examined before and has the potential to change the way of modeling and projecting the dynamics of the climate.

Not only the projects, but the programme itself is an experiment for the foundation.

"It requires steady nerves to deviate from the usual assessment approaches and to allocate funding for projects - or researchers – that challenge the norm, but on the other hand present the best idea. Perhaps only a few of the research projects will prove capable of yielding something unique. However, one wild idea may have the potential to change the world," says Thomas Bjørnholm.

53 bold ideas from 8 research institutes

Aarhus University
  • Henrik Stapelfeldt, Professor, chemistry, "The primary steps of organic solar cells studied in a 0.4 K cold nanolaboratory", DKK 1.8 million
  • Jacob Overgaard, Senior Researcher, chemistry, "Magnetic Anisotropy Using Powder Neutron Diffraction - senseless or ingenious", DKK 1.7 million
  • Marcelo Dias, Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering, "Mechanical Metamaterials and the next generations of advanced materials", DKK 2 million
  • Stergios Misios, Postdoc, Geoscience, "Environmental consequences of solar cosmic rays", DKK 1.9 million
  • Thomas Tørring, Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering, "Image Recognition in the Hunt for New Natural Products", DKK 1.9 million
  • Tina Santl-Temkiv, Assistant Professor, Bioscience, "Deciphering the role of sea-ice microorganisms on cloud processes in the Arctic", DKK 2 million
  • Tobias Weidner, Associate Professor, chemistry, "The molecular tricks bacteria use to make ice", DKK 2 million
  • Victoria Birkedal, Associate Professor, iNANO, "Self-assembled polymer chips for efficient devices", DKK 2 million
Technical University of Denmark
  • Ada-Ioana Bunea, Postdoc, Fotonik, "BioBots: Optically controlled microrobots for precise manipulation of biological samples", DKK 2 million
  • Andreas Jensen, Senior Researcher, Nutech, "Dual-targeted Auger radiotherapy against multiresistant bacteria", DKK 2 million
  • Arghya Bhowmik, Postdoc, Energy, "Deep Learning Enhanced Density Functional Theory (DFT) Simulation for Millions of Atoms (DeepDFT)", DKK 2 million
  • Arnaud Dechesne, Senior Researcher, Environment, "Plasmid-specific bacteriophages to fight antibiotic resistance spread in the environment (P-PhanFARE)", DKK 1.9 million
  • Binbin Zhou, Senior Researcher, Fotonik, "Handshaking between THz and hard x-ray: forging the key to zeptosecond science", DKK 1.9 million
  • Carsten Jers, Reseacher, Biosustain, "Non-enzymatic Ser/Thr/Tyr phosphorylation: a new player in bacterial protein phosphorylation?", DKK 2 million
  • Elisabetta Maria Fiordaliso, Postdoc, Danchip, "Aim, shoot and dope! Electron-beam doping of semiconductor nanowires", DKK 2 million
  • En Te Hwu, Associate Professor, Nanotech, "Micro/Nanoscale 3D Printing: Hacking a Blu-ray Player", DKK 2 million
  • Henrik Bruus, Professor, physics, "Breaking the small-size barrier: Ultrasound manipulation of suspended nanoparticles", DKK 2 million
  • Henrik Toft Simonsen, Associate Professor, Bioengineering, "Did chemosensorial incompatibility doom our sister-species?", DKK 1.9 million
  • Holger Koss, Associate Professor, Civil Engineering, "Optimised constructions using semi-automated designing and manufacturing tools for minimum resource consumption", DKK 1.9 million
  • Ivan Mijakovic, Professor, Biosustain, "Anti-ribosome", DKK 1.9 million
  • Ivana Konvalinka, Assistant Professor, Compute, "Enhancing social interaction through real-time two-brain imaging", DKK 1.9 million
  • Johan Kronholm, Senior Researcher, Orbit, "WATERSTRUC: Structured Water and its Implications for Biology, Chemistry and Physics", DKK 1.9 million
  • Jon Ashley, Postdoc, Nanotech, "Terminal Deoxynucleotidyl Transferase (TdT) Mediated Synthesis of Protein Binding Aptamers", DKK 1.5 million
  • Marlene Mark Jensen, Senior Researcher, Envioronment, "MAGPI - The use of MAGnetic bacteria for inorganic Phosphate recovery from Impaired waters", DKK 2 million
  • Vincenzo Esposito, Professor, Energy, "Defective metal oxide giant electrostrictors for a new design of polymer-supported fast adaptive optical lens", DKK 1.9 million
  • Xiaowei Guan, Postdoc, Fotonik, "On-Chip Hybridization with Light-Emitting Diodes: a New Engine for Silicon-Based Photonic Integrated Circuits?", DKK 2 million
  • William Colgan, Senoir Researcher, "HotRod: Prototype for Rapid Sampling of Ice-Sheet Basal Temperatures", DKK 2 million
The IT University of Copenhagen
  • Andrzej Wasowski, Professor, Computer Science, "Assessment of Reidentification Risks with Bayesian Probabilistic Programing", DKK 1.9 million
University of Copenhagen
  • Birger Lindberg Møller, Professor, Plant and Environmental Sciences, "The Black Holes of Plants", DKK 2 million
  • Birgitte Regenberg, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, "Involvement of circular DNA in macroevolution of animals and fungi", DKK 2 million
  • Christian Marcus Pedersen, Associate Professor, chemistry, "On/Off Micelles for Organic Synthesis", DKK 1.4 million
  • Christine Schøtt Hvidberg, Associate Professor, Niels Bohr, "Exploration rovers for investigation of ice sheet changes in Greenland", DKK 2 million
  • Giampiero Iaffaldano, Associate Professor, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, "Forecasting the seismic hazard of large geologic faults of the Earth's crust", DKK 1.6 million
  • Hannes Schroeder, Assistant Professor, SNM, "Time capsules: Stone Age "chewing gum" offers rare window to the past", DKK 1.9 million
  • James Avery, Assistant Professor, Niels Bohr, "Folding Carbon: A Calculus of Molecular Origami", DKK 1.7 million
  • Jan H. Jensen, Professor, chemistry, "Searching for the origin of life using a computational search engine", DKK 2 million
  • Klaus Herburger, Postdoc, Plant and Environmental Sciences, "TIPorNOT: The tip growth of root hairs might be a myth!", DKK 2 million
  • Ling Deng, Assistant Professor, Food Science (FOOD), "Unveiling the 'dark matter' of phage metagenomes through universal hosts", DKK 2 million
  • Marianne Ellegaard, Associate Professor, Plant and Environmental Sciences, "The Origin of Sex", DKK 2 million
  • Markus Jochum, Professor, Niels Bohr, "Ocean Turbulence, Boundary Conditions and Climate: connecting theory with observations", 1.9 million
  • Martin Cramer Pedersen, Postdoc, Niels Bohr, "In-surface geometric analysis of hyperbolic structure formation in molecular simulations", DKK 1.4 million
  • Michael Kühl, Professor, Biologisk Institut, "Printing microbial forests", DKK 2 million
  • Niels Obers, Professor, Niels Bohr, "The 7th Corner of the Cube of Physical Theories: A new route towards quantum gravity", DKK 1.8 million
  • Nina Lundholm, Associate Professor, SNM, "Active hunting in a single cell - function and evolution of nematocysts and ocelliods in dinoflagellates", DKK 2 million
  • Sascha Müller, Postdoc, Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, "Plastic in Groundwater", DKK 2 million
  • Stefan Sommer, Associate Professor, Datalogisk Institut, "Daydreaming Algorithms", DKK 1,8 million
  • Søren Husted, Professor, Plant and Environmental Sciences, "Hollow manganese phosphate nanoparticles with controlled release properties to remediate manganese deficiency in plants", DKK 2 million
  • Vasileios Gkinis, Assistant Professor, Niels Bohr, "Unraveling paleo-climate knots with lasers", DKK 2 million 
Roskilde University
  • Thomas Schrøder, Professor, Science and Environment, "Geodetic approach to viscous liquids and glasses", DKK 2 million
University of Southern Denmark
  • Fei Ding, Postdoc, Mads Clausen, "Spinning single-photons with metasurfaces", DKK 1.9 million
  • Henrik Karring, Professor WSR, Kemi-, Bio- og Miljøteknologi, "Unravelling the Molecular Secret of Insect's Construction Work", DKK 2 million
  • Stefan Vogel, associate Professor, Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy, "Smart nanocarrier delivery platform for multiplexed CRISPR based Gene Editing", DKK 2 million
Aalborg University
  • Kåre Lehmann Nielsen, Professor, Chemistry and Bioscience, "Crossdressing plants to combat major crop diseases", DKK 1.2 million

The young, the experienced, offbeat ideas

VILLUM FONDEN funds research in the technical and natural sciences based on the ideas that engage the researchers the most.

Questions and contacts:

Thomas Bjørnholm
Executive Chief Scientific Officer, professor, VILLUM FONDEN
+45 28 75 18 35


Professor Thomas Bjørnholm is responsible for the foundation’s research programmes in technical and natural sciences.
Previously Thomas Bjørnholm was Prorector for Research and Innovation and Deputy Rector at the University of Copenhagen with overall responsibility for research and innovation across all disciplines at the university.

He is a professor of Materials Chemistry and the founding director of the Nano-Science Center at the University of Copenhagen.

Thomas Bjørnholm is a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences and he has served on numerous boards and committees.

As a scientist, he has published more than 200 articles in scientific journals and books including contributions to the highly-recognized journals Nature and Science. He has given more than 150 invited talks at conferences and research institutes around the world and received research awards, including the Ole Rømer Foundation Award, the Ellen & Niels Bjerrum Award and gold medal, and the Director Ib Henriksen Award.

See more extensive CV

We refer to the universitys' press and communication contacts for information about the individual researchers.