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New agreement between foundations and universities will strengthen research in Denmark

Universities Denmark and six private foundations that fund research have entered into an agreement that strengthens the transparency of how the foundations contribute to research at the universities and defines a clear basis for allocating costs between universities and foundations.

The universities and the foundations that fund research, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, VILLUM FONDEN, Carlsberg Foundation, VELUX FONDEN, Lundbeck Foundation and LEO Foundation, want to create clarity in the funding of research in Denmark and to support the breadth of research at the universities. Based on this aim, they have now agreed to introduce a model for contributing to the indirect costs associated with the foundations’ grants for research at the universities.

The agreement increases cost transparency, establishes a clear cost distribution mechanism between foundations and universities, and simplifies and standardizes the application process and the administrative process benefitting universities, researchers, as well as the foundations.

“We have aimed to create the basis for a sustainable research landscape. By concluding this agreement, we can now focus on the most important aspect: how the foundations and universities can jointly strengthen public research and training researchers to benefit innovation, growth and Danish society as a whole,” says Søren Nedergaard, Chief Operating Officer, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Fixed supplementary grants
Specifically, the agreement stipulates that the six foundations will contribute to cover indirect project costs in the form of a project supplement. This applies to open call grants under DKK 50 million. The project supplement is set at DKK 250,000 per project-employed full-time equivalent in scientific research, typically Ph.D. and postdoctoral researchers, for research in the natural sciences, health sciences and technical sciences. For the humanities and the social sciences, (including law, and theology), the project supplement amounts to DKK 200,000 per project-employed full-time equivalent.

The total estimated contribution from the foundations to cover indirect costs will amount to approximately DKK 700-800 million annually once the agreement is fully implemented, with the current number of project-funded full-time equivalents, funded by the foundations included in the agreement.

Christina Egelund, Minister for Higher Education and Science, says:

“It is an important agreement that universities and foundations have entered into. The private foundations make a significant and valuable contribution to Danish research, and it is great that universities and private foundations now have a renewed basis for future collaboration. As the Minister of Research, I am pleased with the agreement and look forward to continued close cooperation between universities and foundations for the benefit of Danish research.”

Brian Bech Nielsen, Chair of Universities Denmark, says: “With this agreement, a better financial balance between the grants received from private research foundations and other research activities at the universities will be achieved. As a result of this, the universities will gain an increased capacity to allocate research resources of their own to the benefit of the quality of Danish research. It’s indeed a great day for Danish research.”

A joint statement by the six foundations says: “

“The foundations are pleased with the agreement reached through a sound and constructive process. The agreement establishes transparency and stability in the realm of research funding at universities by defining a clear cost distribution mechanism between foundations and universities. Simultaneously, the agreement opens up a crucial dialogue on collectively strengthening research at Danish universities, thereby enhancing the societal impact of research.”

Calculating the costs
The model and the project supplement have been developed through a comprehensive analysis of the costs associated with various types of foundation-funded research projects at universities. Costs were categorized into salaries, operational expenses, and administration, and subsequently proposals for cost distribution were formulated.

As per the agreement, the foundations will cover several of the indirect costs associated with their grants for research at universities. This allows for universities to have increased flexibility to prioritize their research funding, which can, in the long term, enhance the breadth and quality of research at the Danish universities. The universities and the participating foundations have agreed to continue dialogue on how to strengthen the quality and diversity of Danish research following the agreement

Further information

Christian Mostrup
Senior Lead, Public Relations
+45 3067 4805 [email protected]