Please note that application deadline has passed. Deadline was 15 March 2023, 2 PM.

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

In traditional funding schemes, grant proposals are evaluated by review panels which judge the merits of both the scientific idea and the applicant. Typically, such review panels make their decisions by consensus. While this procedure is time-tested and widely used, it may exclude a certain class of breakthrough ideas that can seem unripe, too risky and even naive at first glance. The Villum Experiment Programme is designed for exactly those ideas.

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 chance?

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

Conditions and eligibility
  • 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 PhD degree or similar at the application deadline.
  • Researchers who already hold a grant from VILLUM FONDEN ending later than 31 December 2023 are not eligible to apply.
  • Researchers can apply for up to DKK 2 million (incl. 15% indirect costs) 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. However, please note that salary of permanently employed scientific staff is not covered.
  • PhD students are not eligible for support under the programme.      
  • The grant must be hosted by a Danish university or research institution as indicated by a letter of support. If necessary, the research or part of it can take place at universities and research institutions abroad.
  • If granted a project can start 1 October 2023 at the earliest and no later than 1 March 2024.
  • Each application may only have a single applicant (i.e. no co-applicants).
  • Each researcher may only submit one single application.
  • Researchers who applied for a Villum Experiment grant in 2022 are not eligible to apply in 2023.
  • Researchers applying in 2023 will not be eligible to apply in 2024.

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 purely commercial focus are not supported.

We do 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.

Furthermore, applicants affiliated with departments whose main scientific focus is within these areas (including university health departments, hospitals, the Danish Cancer Society, DTU Health Tech and SDU Health Informatics and Technology) are not eligible to apply and will receive an administrative rejection.

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 anonymous proposals which pass the pre-screening are distributed among the four scientific review sub-panels according to the proposal’s research area as indicated by the applicant. The terms of reference of the panel 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 CVs or support letters and do not know the identities of the applicants.

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 their scores, taking the decisive votes into account.

As a final step, the CVs of the highest ranking applications are screened by 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 grant decision. 

Note: In previous rounds of funding, all applicants put forward by the review panel passed the final screening process.


Important dates
  • 15 March 2023 at 14:00: Deadline for application.
  • June 2023: Rejection of applications which do not meet the general conditions.
  • September 2023: Approval of grant or rejection of application based on the review panel’s assessment.

The application must contain the following four documents:

  • Proposal. Max. 10,000 characters incl. spaces (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 above must be submitted as four separate pdf files. To preserve anonymity, it is important that you remove all personal information from the file names and metadata of the proposal and the budget. Any additional documents submitted will not be taken into consideration.

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 ensures that you have a unique ID in our application system. You can obtain your ORCID here. Your ORCID must be entered along with your contact information in the application system.

  1. If my application is successful, when can my project start?
    The project should start no later than March 2024. Earliest start date is 1 October 2023.
  2. Can a PhD student be employed as part of a grant?
    No. The Villum Experiment programme is dedicated to the exploration of high-risk ideas and as such not suitable for PhD students.
  3. If I get a grant as a postdoc and my salary is covered from other sources, can I use the grant to employ an additional postdoc for the project?
    Yes. After granting the foundation will enter into a dialogue with you regarding the management of the project and how and by whom the postdoc will be recruited.
  4. Can (part of) the salary of a permanently employed researcher be covered by the grant?
  5. My research is collaborative. Can I use the grant to cover the expenses of my collaborators in part or in full?
    The grant will be administered by the applicant's host institution and all payments from the foundation will be made to that institution. However, subject to the rules of your institution, you may budget for costs of other parties. This could be in the form of bench fees if visiting a collaborator or by making a contract between your institution and your collaborator for specific work to be carried out. It must not be possible to identify your collaborators from the proposal or budget.
  6. Can there be more than one applicant on a proposal?
  7. Why do I have to submit a CV if the evaluation is anonymous?
    The only use of the CV is to establish whether you have the formal qualifications to carry out the project (e.g. that you are not a theoretical physicist wanting to do field biology). To date, no applicant has been disqualified for this reason. The CV is not seen by the panel and is not used in the assessment.
  8. Is there a specific format to be used for the CV?
  9. Is there a specific format to be used for the support letter?
    No, and it is not used in the assessment beyond ensuring that the institution will host the project if granted.
  10. Can I submit additional support letters, e.g. from collaborators?
    No. Additional material will not be seen by the panel as it would violate the anonymity of the assessment.
  11. Can I use hyperlinks in my proposal?
    No, you are not allowed to link to additional material in your proposal. The panel will not take such links into account in their evaluation.
  12. Can I cite one of my own papers in the proposal?
    As a general rule, no – it would allow the panel to identify you. If it is absolutely necessary to refer to previous work, use a wording along the lines of ‘Previous work by the applicant has shown…’ and describe the work in generic terms without a reference.

51 extraordinary research experiments received funding in 2022

VILLUM FONDEN granted 51 original ideas 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.

Anders Smith
Senior Adviser, Head of Programme, VILLUM FONDEN
+45 29 66 70 86