New programme for interdisciplinary data-driven research

With a new programme VILLUM FONDEN will make grants amounting to DKK 50 million annually to research projects that bring together computer science and another field.

VILLUM FONDEN announces the creation of the Villum Synergy Programme to fund breakthrough research that involves collaboration between computer scientists – including statisticians and mathematicians – and a partner from another academic field, e.g. engineering, chemistry, economics, anthropology, biology, sociology and physics.


The focus of the programme is the potential to make new advances by combining computer-science research with research in another field.

“Digital transformation, artificial intelligence and big data all necessitate interdisciplinary collaboration that can combine computer-science expertise with expertise in another field, like science or technology or the humanities and the social sciences. Where these fields come together is where new knowledge is created,” Bjørnholm says.

The programme will make DKK 50 million in grants annually over the next three years to projects that foster interdisciplinary research in Denmark.

New and existing projects

The programme will make two types of grants to interdisciplinary research. The first is an initiation project grant. These grants, in the amount of DKK 2-3 million, are intended for new, two-year collaborations. The second type is full project grants in the amount of DKK 10-20 million intended for established and mature collaborations undertaking research projects lasting between three and five years.

“We see the initiation project grants as a way to encourage collaboration that will hopefully qualify for a bigger grant later on. In order for interdisciplinary research to take hold, you need to begin early on and get involved in partnerships to find out if you can work together and if you can produce something that’s really leading-edge. It takes time and resources to develop interdisciplinary research and to understand what it’s all about,” Bjørnholm says.

October application deadline

Villum Synergy grants are funded by a VILLUM FONDEN initiative to support research in science and technology. The application deadline is 10 October 2019.

All applications will be reviewed by a scientific committee and assessed on the breakthrough potential of the excellence of the proposed research. Applicants for full project grants who make it past the first evaluation round will be invited to an interview and their projects will undergo peer-review.

Villum Synergy Call

Deadline for applications is 10 October 2019 at 14.00.

For further information please contact:

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