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Fields of science and co-operation

Even though the primary field of science for CASE and Synthetic Biology is the natural sciences and the primary field of MINDLab and Food, Fitness and Pharma are the medical sciences and health, they all collaborate across disciplines to work towards their research goals. Indeed, one of the main characteristics of the four centres is that they are cross-disciplinary and cover between two and five fields of science.9

The call did not require collaboration between research groups at the university or with other universities. However, many of the objectives of the research goals could not be reached within the boundaries of one academic discipline and required co-operation with other disciplines. This cross-disciplinary orientation is now supported in the organisational setup (i.e. management and co-ordination, the composition of the individual research groups, and the training of young researchers).

It is the overall view of the informants that the amount of funding and the timespan of the grant have made it possible to establish collaborations that would not have been undertaken under the normal research funding systems owing to the terms of the call and the cross-disciplinary issues the researchers seek to address. Because the grant is large, the participants can operate independently, and within their university they have become academic leaders.

The main co-operative relationships seem to be most intense with different departments of the host university and with international researchers and research institutions specialised in the same area of research. Co-operation is less intense with other Danish universities or national research institutes and partners from the private sector.10

The informants agree that the CoE status has helped to establish contacts with research-intensive institutions abroad. Not only has it helped to attract outstanding researchers from abroad for temporary or permanent engagements at the CoE. It has also given the centre access to funding sources from abroad.nOne informant emphasised that the grant made it possible to work strategically with all stakeholders involved in the area of research and to develop strong and scientifically directed collaborations across disciplines.

Interestingly, most of the present co-operative links already existed before each UNIK was founded, but since inception these co-operative links have been considerably enhanced.12

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