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The four grant units

The four grant units that received funding from the 2009 call are presented in Table 5.2.

Table 5.2. Overview of UNIK grant units

Catalysis for Sustainable Energy - CASE

Purpose: to develop a science-based rational design strategy for new catalysts and processes for energy conversion for a spectrum of energy sources.

Host: The Technical University of Denmark. Total research budget DKK 2.9 billion (2011).

MINDLab

Purpose: to study mind-brain relationships from their religious, societal and psychological underpinnings to the biochemical and cellular mechanisms underlying normal brain function and their imbalance in disease.

Host: Aarhus University. Total research budget DKK 3.5 billion (2011).

Synthetic Biology

Purpose: to develop insights, tools and technologies for preparing and characterising bio-inspired systems with tailor-made functions. Host: University of Copenhagen. Total research budget DKK 4.7 billion (2011).

Food, Fitness and Pharma for Health and Disease

Purpose: to identify and characterise the environmental and genetic causes of lifestyle diseases and develop new means to prevent and cure them.

Host: University of Copenhagen. Total research budget DKK 4.7 billion (2011)

UNIK was considered a dynamic and closely-co-ordinated research framework for related research activities. The organisational unit was to be well conceived and well organised in terms of the research field or the number of research groups involved. It could include some or several research groups, research centres and/or individuals.

All four units were established in 2009 as a result of the call for proposals. University management financed the drawing up of the four proposals that received funding. Three out of the four proposals were initiated by university management and one by the researchers themselves.

The management of each university was deeply involved in the process leading up to reception of the grant, as it chose the proposals to be forwarded to the ministry owing to the limit on the number of applications. At the Danish Technical University the research programme of the CoE was developed from the university’s more general research strategy. At Copenhagen University and Aarhus University the UNIK initiative influenced the development of the university’s overall research profile because it helped the university management to identify research areas to be given special priority in the future.6

After receiving the grant the universities made a special, central-level administrative unit responsible for overall supervision of the UNIK, as the vice-chancellor of the university is legally responsible for the grant. At Copenhagen University and Aarhus University administrative duties and tasks are divided between the university and the CoE. At the Danish Technical University the CoE administration is largely independent of the university’s central administration.7

In its day-to-day management the CoE generally seems to operate without the direct involvement of the university management. One or two centres, however, have experienced some constraints. This may be due to the internal rules or the management of the grant at the different universities. For instance, is it important for the university management to control the CoE’s potential financial risks, such as costly agreements or structures that cannot be cancelled or easily dissolved at the end of the grant period. This is reflected in the fact that the host universities only offer labour contracts beyond the lifespan of the CoE to a limited number of employees.8

 
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