Apply for grants

Distinguished Innovator Grant

Call opens
1 August 2023
Call closes
14 September 2023 2:00pm (CEST)
Announcement of results
December 2023
Recurring calls
Expected January 2024
Application guidelines


The purpose of the Distinguished Innovator Grant Sustainability & Health is to accelerate commercialization of research findings and development of novel technologies within sustainability or health. 

Both areas of the Distinguished Innovator Grant are aimed for senior faculty members or researchers with a proven track record within innovation, i.e., previous experience of academic innovation projects and experience with establishing patents and spinouts from the academia. 

About the grants


Up to DKK 6 million per grant.


Nordic region


Committee on Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Innovation Grants


For the questions regarding the Health call, - contact Signe Daugbjerg. For the questions regarding the Sustainability call, - contact Charlotte Schöller.
Pål Fernvall
Grant Manager
+45 2089 9681 [email protected]
Charlotte Schöller
Senior Scientific Manager, PhD
+45 25460280 [email protected]
Signe Daugbjerg
Senior Scientific Manager, PhD
[email protected]

Areas of support 

The Distinguished Innovator Grant Sustainability seeks to support research within agriculture, food, industrial and environmental biotech*, carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies as well as nitrous oxide and methane emissions, and quantum technologies. The aim is to stimulate the evaluation of ideas that may lead to the development of new products or systems, devices and technological platforms in relation hereto. Particular focus will be placed on projects covering sustainable and high yielding agriculture, sustainable food for healthy diets, and climate change mitigation technologies to support the green transition. 

The Distinguished Innovator Grant Health seeks to support innovative research within med-tech, industrial biotech*, pharma as well as quantum technologies. Furthermore, the intent is to stimulate the evaluation of ideas that for example could lead to the development of new medical treatment, disease prevention, diagnostic methods as well as new health technologies, devices and technological platforms. Particular focus will be placed on projects covering cardiometabolic diseases** as well as infectious diseases and preventive solutions hereto. 

For both parts of the Distinguished Innovator Grant, it is important to provide the support needed to succeed with the project maturation, i.e., support from experts within legal counsel, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Furthermore, the grant is focused on the role of the applicant as an ambassador for Innovation within academia. 

*According to the OECD definition of biotechnology: the application of science and technology to living organisms, as well as parts, products and models thereof, to alter living or non-living materials for the production of knowledge, goods and services. 

** Cardiometabolic diseases including for example: heart attack, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, obesity, diabetes and fatty liver disease. 


The research project must comprise a main applicant and has the option of including co-applicant(s) when deemed relevant. Rules of eligibility are outlined in more detail below: 

The Main Applicant: 

  • The main applicant must be a senior faculty member or researcher employed at a research institution or hospital/clinic in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, or Sweden). 
  • It is required that the main applicant has a personal proven track record within innovation, i.e., previous experience of academic innovation projects and experience of establishing patents and spinouts from the academia. 
  • It is required that the main applicant is willing to act as an ambassador for innovation within academia and engage younger researchers and the surrounding innovation ecosystem. 


  • Co-applicants can be included in the project but are not required. 
  • Co-applicants may come from the same hosting institution as the main applicant or from a different university, hospitals, or research institutions locally and abroad. 

Hosting Institution: 

  • A Distinguished Innovator Grant must be administered by a non-profit organization. 
  • A Distinguished Innovator Grant cannot be given to a company. 
  • Projects from incubator development programs and projects where IPR is owned by a university’s holding institution, are eligible to apply if: 
  • The administrating institution is the university 
  • The project and its findings are anchored in academia 
  • The project has not resulted in the establishment of a company (given company has not established a CVR/company number) 

Project scope: 

The Distinguished Innovator project idea and focus must be directly linked to sustainability or to improving the lives of patients and health of people. Applications in which the project idea is not directly linked to such scope will receive an administrative rejection during the initial screening process of applications. 


The total grant budget is DKK 84 million in 2023, to cover both the Health and the Sustainability areas.  

Each grant can be of maximum DKK 6 million for a period of 3 years.
Application process 

The application should be completed and submitted using the Foundation’s application system. 

It is important to carefully read the “Information and guidelines for applicants”, accessed via ‘How to apply’ above, before initiating the application process, as this document contains the complete call, as well as detailed instructions for the application. 


Grant listings

All the projects we have funded are listed here. You can customise your search by grant year and category and use free text search.

Managing a grant

Read more about how to manage a grant and what general information you need as a grant holder.