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Public research excellence initiatives: An overview

Denmark has a portfolio of public research funding that concerns centres of excellence. In 1993, the first of these initiatives was established under the Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF).1 It was inspired by the German Max Planck institutes and major national strategic research programmes of the late 1980s. Then, in 2006 the Danish Council for Strategic Research started funding so-called strategic research centres. In the last couple of years, two initiatives with centre-of-excellence traits have been established and give grants to research institutions instead of individual researchers. One is the 2009 Investment Capital for University Research (Universitets- forskningens Investeringskapital, UNIK) under the then Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The other is the 2010 Strategic Platforms for Innovation and Research (SPIR),2 which is funded jointly by the Danish Council for Strategic Research and the Danish Council for Technology and Innovation.

Table 5.1 summarises a number of parameters of the public research excellence initiatives (REIs). In addition, at least two private foundations have begun funding centres of excellence (CoEs) at universities; the universities themselves have also begun to distribute part of their block funding on the basis of criteria linked to research excellence.

Table 5.1. Denmark: Public research initiatives funding centres of excellence

First grant

Type of research

Scientific, thematic areas

Total funding, inception to 2012, million DKK

Scheme funding per centre, million DKK per year1

Number of grants/funded centres

Period of funding (years)

Applicants

Funding agency: Danish National Research Foundation Scheme: Centres of excellence

1993

Basic research

All

5 469

8.9

88 of which 48 are active

  • 5-10
  • (typically 10)

Individual

researchers

Funding agency: Danish Council for Strategic Research Scheme: Strategic research centres

2006

Applied

research

Mainly "sustainable energy and

environment", "strategic growth technologies" and "health, food and welfare"

1 137

6

36 of which 32 are active

5-7

Individual

researchers

Funding agency: Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education Scheme: Investment Capital for University Research (UNIK)

2009

Basic and applied research

All

480

24

4 of which 4 are active

5

Universities

Funding agency: Danish Council for Strategic Research and the Danish Council for Technology and Innovation Scheme: Strategic Platforms for Innovation and Research (SPIR)

2010

Applied

research

Food, energy and welfare technology

270

13.3

4 of which 4 are active

5-7

Universities, research institutions and private

Note: 1. The amounts are calculated as average per year of the grants given in the latest round of applications and include an overhead of 44%.

This section describes Denmark’s Investment Capital for University Research (UNIK) initiative. It is based on the OECD host and centre survey carried out in late 2012 by the Working Party on Research Institutions and Human Resources (RIHR). The questionnaire was sent to the four centres and the three host universities funded by the UNIK. The information from the OECD/RIHR survey was supplemented by the main documents relating to the REI in the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education in Denmark and telephone interviews with the CoEs and host institutions.

 
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