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DKK 337 million awarded for research that can help solve major societal challenges

One research team will convert wastewater sludge into a valuable raw material that can be used in for example building materials. The material can replace oil-based raw material and thereby contribute to a circular economy.

A second team will take a unique scientific approach to creating soft, comfortable wearables that can act as an artificial muscle. The technology incorporates biologically tailored fibres into soft silicone material that can be integrated in clothes and makes the wearer capable of performing and controlling complex motions.

A third team wants to improve the opportunities for preventing and treating inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This goal will be pursued by investigating the cross-talk between immune cells and environmental signals from food and intestinal bacteria.

These are three examples of the research funded through the Novo Nordisk Foundation 2022 Challenge Programme where experienced researchers can obtain funding for major projects lasting up to six years.

This year’s grants are based on the following three themes.

1. Recycling for a sustainable society
The Foundation has awarded three research grants under this theme focusing on the optimal way to recycle waste and side streams, such as those from agriculture and industry, aiming to transform society in a more sustainable direction.

The project SUgar Beet REvolution: Enzymatic Biorefining of Sugar Beet Pulp to Nutraceuticals and Recyclable Materials (SURE) is led by Anne S. Meyer, Professor, Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, who is receiving a grant of DKK 57,051,850.

The project Recovery of Extracellular Polymers from Wastewater Treatment Residuals as a New Circular Biopolymer (REThiNk) is led by Per Halkjær Nielsen, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University, who is receiving a grant of DKK 54,829,600.

The project Center for Enzymatic Deconstruction of Thermoset Plastics for a Sustainable Society (En’Zync) is led by Daniel Otzen, Professor, Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO), Aarhus University, who is receiving a grant of DKK 57,003,755.

2. Energy materials with biological applications
The two grants under this theme will find creative solutions for developing biocompatible materials that can harvest, transform or store energy and can be used for applications such as health-tech wearables or devices.

The project EMGUT – Energy Materials for the GUT is led by Anja Boisen, Professor, Department of Health Technology, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, who is receiving a grant of DKK 59,963,788.

The project Soft Wearables with High Energy Density: Merging Chemical Biology and Silicone Chemistry with Compliant Active Devices (WeArAble) is led by Anne Ladegaard Skov, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, who is receiving a 5-year grant of DKK 47,987,527.

3. Immunity at mucosal surfaces
The grant under this theme aims to provide new knowledge on the regulatory mechanisms that promote and restore immunological tolerance, which is crucial for preventing and treating diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, the focus of this project.

The project Center for Intestinal Immune Regulation (CIIR) is led by William Winston Agace, Professor, Department of Health Technology, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, who is receiving a grant of DKK 59,997,987.

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Programme

The Novo Nordisk Foundation established the Challenge Programme in 2014. Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than DKK 100 million every year for ambitious research projects based on a thematic approach addressing some of the major societal challenges.

The 2023 Challenge Programme themes have been announced and you can read about them below:

Further information

Sabina Askholm Larsen, Communications Partner, +45 2367 3226, sla@novo.dk

Top photo:
Top row, left to right: Anja Boisen (photo: Jesper Scheel), Per Halkjær Nielsen and Anne S. Meyer.
Bottom row, left to right: Daniel Otzen (photo: Jesper Rais), Anne Ladegaard Skov and William Winston Agace (photo: Agata Garpenlind).

Further information

Christian Mostrup
Senior Press Lead
+45 3067 4805 cims@novo.dk