Some of the novel research ideas which can break new ground in the technical and natural sciences might be excluded by the traditional funding schemes. VILLUM FONDEN launches a new programme to support 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 new 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 answer a long-standing question in science, bring a transformative understanding of a central topic, pave the way for a fruitful new research area or new method/technology or the like. We wish to support researchers who believe strongly in their ideas and who dare take the risk of failing and learning.

The programme operates within curiosity-driven research. Spin-out technologies, commercialisation of products and the like are not within the scope of the programme.

  • Researchers can apply for DKK 1-2m for typically 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 applicant must hold a doctoral degree or similar.
  • 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.
  • Please note that only one application per applicant is accepted.

Assessment and selection

The proposals are assessed by a scientific review panel, who does not see the CV’s and does not know the identities of the applicants. The panels terms of reference can be found below along with the review sheet to be used by the panel members.

In order to increase diversity and respect the uniqueness of outliers, each panel member is provided with a decisive vote which he/she can use only once. The panel member has the option to cast the decisive vote for an application which is found to be truly extraordinary and therefore deserves the highest priority. VILLUM FONDEN strives to grant all applications which have received decisive votes along with the applications which have the best reviews in general.

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.

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

An overview of the assessment and selection process can be found below.

Important dates

1 February 2017 at 14:00: Deadline for applications

1 June 2017: Rejection or approval of grant


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 above must all be submitted as 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.

Ready to apply?

Application deadline is 1. February 2017 at 14:00

If you have any questions, please contact us:

Lars Arnskov Olsen
Senior Adviser, Head of programme, VILLUM FONDEN
+ 45 26 17 08 39