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Computer Tools to Accelerate the Transition Towards a Sustainable Society

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a grant of DKK 90 million to the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) to develop faster and smarter tools for analysing large quantities of data.

Modern research can generate a huge quantity of data in just a few hours in the laboratory. This has created a need for ever more advanced computer programs and modelling tools to sort, link and interpret all these data, thereby strengthening research and making it more efficient.

The Foundation has therefore awarded a grant of DKK 90 million to the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability to invest in new technology and hire more experts within computer-based research. The goals are to reduce the time and expense of developing new research and to maximize the value and usability of the data produced.

“The grant will enable us to hire highly trained specialists who can analyse the biological data and construct advanced models within such fields as cell metabolism and biological systems. This will bring us to forefront of development within the field and will create new research opportunities,” says Jens Nielsen, Scientific Director, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability.

The Center is the world’s first interdisciplinary research centre within biosustainability. The ambition is to generate the knowledge required to design and construct cell factories to programme bacteria, yeast and other cells to produce ingredients for numerous products, including food and pharmaceuticals.

One task involves developing a system for integrating data libraries. Typically, these are large databases with data on DNA sequences, genes and protein from organisms and the like. However, the databases cannot communicate, and researchers therefore have to use several online databases and programs to retrieve information such as how a specific genetic modification will affect an organism. Because this is time-consuming, new technology that can store, organize, analyse and visualize data in a user-friendly way is therefore required to improve the efficiency of the Center’s research.

Birgitte Nauntofte, CEO, Novo Nordisk Foundation, says: “This grant is intended to help the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability to strengthen its competencies within analysing and modelling large quantities of data, which is a rapidly expanding and important field. This will increase the efficiency of the Center’s efforts to design and construct cell factories, which are vital in creating a sustainable bio-based society.”

Read more in today’s press release from the University.


The Center conducts research on developing new knowledge and technology that can support the transformation from an oil-based chemical industry to a more sustainable bio-based industry producing chemicals using highly specialized cell cultures: cell factories. The Center also conducts research on developing robust and improved cell factories for efficiently manufacturing pharmaceuticals.

The Center was established at DTU in 2011 based on a grant from the Foundation of DKK 700 million. Since 2012, the Center has received two grants from the Foundation totalling DKK 411 million for internationalizing and expanding the activities of the Center. The latest grant awarded brings the total funding of the Center to DKK 1.2 billion.

Since it was established, the Center has published 360 scientific articles, many of which in highly esteemed journals. The Center has also applied for 35 patents based on its scientific results. Read more at


Anne Lykke, Communication Officer, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, [email protected], +45 2112 3770

Christian Mostrup Scheel, Press Officer, [email protected], +45 3067 4805