Setting Synergy in motion: eight grants for interdisciplinary research

VILLUM FONDEN has chosen the inaugural grantees for its Villum Synergy programme to support interdisciplinary data-driven science. Two full projects and six initiation projects will receive a total of DKK 52.5 million.

The emergence of digitalisation, artificial intelligence and big data provide us with the opportunity to link computer science to other research areas. To make the most of that opportunity, VILLUM FONDEN established Villum Synergy in 2019 as a way to strengthen excellent interdisciplinary research in Denmark. The programme is open to research collaborations involving an individual conducting research in the field of computer science, statistics or applied mathematics, and an individual conducting research in one of a raft of other fields.

VILLUM FONDEN is pleased to announce the inaugural recipients of the grants: two full projects and six initiation projects that share DKK 52.5 million kroner. The projects incorporate computer science with fields such as technology, natural sciences, economics and communication. 

“We created Villum Synergy in recognition of the enormous potential of promoting the research opportunities here in Denmark that arise when computer science is coupled with other disciplines. This type of interdisciplinary collaboration can lead us to ground-breaking results,” says Thomas Bjørnholm, executive chief science officer of VILLUM FONDEN.

Villum Synergy Programme

The next call for applications will be announced on 4 November 2020. The deadline for applying will be 3 March 2021.

Read more about the programme.

High level of ambition

VILLUM FONDEN received 82 applications for Villum Synergy grants, 13 of which were submitted by established research partnerships seeking funding for full projects. The remaining applications came from researchers seeking initiation project grants to set up their own partnerships.  

“Universities and researchers have expressed great interest in the programme, and their research interests vary widely. The eight projects selected to receive grants display a high level of ambition and require impressive data sets to look at everything from climate ecosystems to behavioural economics,” Bjørnholm says.

Eight projects – 16 researchers

The board of directors of VILLUM FONDEN has, on the recommendation of the selection committee, decided to give grants to two full projects and six initiation projects.

Full project grants for established research partnerships

Professor Rasmus Fensholt, Dept. of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen &
Professor Christian Igel, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen: 
'Deep Learning and Remote Sensing for Unlocking Global Ecosystem Resource Dynamics' (DKK 14.9 million)
The project will use artificial intelligence in satellite measurements of the earth to monitor, simulate and predict changes in the world’s ecosystems. 

Professor Sune Lehmann, Dept. for Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Technical University of Denmark &
Professor David Dreyer Lassen, Dept. of Economics, University of Copenhagen: 
'Nation-scale social networks' (DKK 19.7 million)
The project will use population data and data about mobile payment transactions to study how social networks can be used to understand variations in living standards, education, crime and employment.

Initiation projects establishing new research partnerships

Professor Kim G. Larsen, Dept. of Computer Science, Aalborg University &
Professor MSO Michael Rasmussen, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Aalborg University:
'CLAIRE: ControLing wAter In an uRban Environment'  (DKK 2.9 million)

Associate Professor Rasmus Helles, Dept. of Communication, University of Copenhagen &
Professor Jakob Grue Simonsen, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen:
'Privacy Lost: How regional differences in power and politics have shaped worldwide digital surveillance' (DKK 2.9 million)

Professor Katja Hose, Dept. of Computer Science, Aalborg University &
Professor MSO Mads Albertsen, Dept. of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University:
'Data Science meets Microbial Dark Matter' (DKK 3 million)

Professor Ingemar Johansson Cox,  Dept. of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen & 
Senior Researcher Hao Hu, DTU Fotonik, Technical University of Denmark:
'Searchlight: Integrated Optical Neural Networks for Information Retrieval' (DKK 3 million)

Professor Ira Assent, Aarhus University, Dept. of Computer Science &
Professor Birgit Schiøtt, Dept. of Chemistry and iNANO, Aarhus University:
'Effective, efficient and robust clustering models for molecular dynamics simulations' (DKK 3 million)

Professor Huai Wang, Dept. of Energy Technology, Aalborg University & 
Professor Bin Yang, Dept. of Computer Science, Aalborg University:
'Light-AI for Cognitive Power Electronics' (DKK 3 million)


Michel M.H. Kristensen
Senior Adviser, Head of programme, VILLUM FONDEN
+ 45 29 41 78 89
Anna Høxbro Bak
Communications Adviser, THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS
+45 22 64 03 55