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Novo Nordisk Foundation establishes fellowships with four top international universities

The Novo Nordisk Foundation is expanding and extending its Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme, thereby enabling ambitious researchers in the natural and technical sciences and life sciences to boost their careers with a research stay at one of several top international universities.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation wants to give researchers in Denmark the opportunity to seek inspiration and acquire new knowledge and skills by supporting their research stays at top international research institutions. To facilitate this, the Foundation has just entered into strategic partnerships with several internationally leading research actors. This especially benefits the Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme. A new programme budget of DKK 96 million over a 3-year period will boost the Programme while offering attractive fellowships with improved benefits and research opportunities at one of these top international universities.

The Foundation launched the Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme in 2015 through collaboration with Stanford Bio-X (USA). The fruitful experience has led to the expansion of the Programme, and the decision of the Foundation to establishing collaboration agreements with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, USA), the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) and the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), in addition to Stanford Bio-X.

The purpose of the Programme is to boost the professional and personal development of talented researchers through 3 years of international experience and networking in a world-leading research community. In addition to the career-promoting aspect for the individual researcher, the Programme has the additional benefit that it facilitates the researcher’s reintegration into the Danish research environment by supporting the fourth and final year of the project period at their affiliated university in Denmark and thus brings back innovation, networks and experience.

In addition, the Programme promotes building human bridges and valuable relationships between Danish and international universities. The new expansion builds on the success of the Programme so far.

Lene Oddershede, Senior Vice President, Natural & Technical Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation, says: “At the Novo Nordisk Foundation, we want to promote quality research and innovation at the highest international level and to bring novel research expertise to Denmark. We have had really good experience in sending young researchers to Stanford University, and we therefore want to expand the mobility opportunities with more top international universities. This is an investment in the growth layer of researchers in Denmark who will contribute positively to research and development in the future.”

“Internationalisation leads to increased creativity and creates innovation and value in research communities in Denmark. However, young researchers can face practical challenges when travelling abroad; finances can especially be a barrier for researchers with families and children. We seek to remedy this by covering health insurance costs, both for the fellows and their family and for example, by subsidising childcare costs in the programme at MIT. Thus, pursuing the dream of obtaining international research experience at a leading university will become more attractive and realistic, also for young researchers with families,” adds Lene Oddershede.

Innovative research communities
“The Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme will promote building bridges between Danish and international universities and thus help to lay the foundations for making it easier for researchers in Denmark to seek experience outside Denmark in the future, but also the other way around. Therefore, another ambition is that the Programme acts as a branding of Danish research,” explains Mikkel Skovborg, Senior Vice President, Innovation, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

“Denmark has a long and proud tradition of world-class research, and although many research communities recognise this already, we think that a new initiative boosting researchers in Denmark will be of great benefit. We hope to pave the way for a future where even more meaningful exchange programmes can be established across national borders and researchers in Denmark can obtain access to innovative research communities abroad. This has been a key factor in deciding which universities the Foundation should include in the Programme,” says Mikkel Skovborg, adding that:

“The four universities that are now part of the Programme are all internationally recognised for their high level of interdisciplinarity and for their innovative approach to research and development. This means that the grant recipients will be able to conduct research in an exceptionally educational and fruitful environment and hopefully achieve exciting new breakthroughs in their research.”

An important aspect of the new version of the Programme is that, after the grant ends, the recipients can apply for a proof-of-concept grant that will enable them to exploit translation of their discovery or invention to eventual commercialisation in Denmark.

Selection criteria
Before applying for a Fellowship Programme grant, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • The applicant will have obtained a PhD within 5 years of the fellowship start date.
  • The applicant must have a solid education in the natural sciences, the technical sciences or the life sciences.
  • The applicant must have established contact with a faculty member at one of the four hosting universities, who has committed to being the primary research mentor for the duration of the fellowship.
  • The applicant must have had significant association to Denmark’s educational system or a research community in Denmark, such as by having a graduated from a university in Denmark, and a clear intention of returning to Denmark after the stay abroad.
  • Applicants must confirm that a university in Denmark will host the researcher when they return to Denmark, which also entails employing the fellow during the grant period and administering the grant.

Read more about the application process here: Fellowships at MIT, Fellowships at Stanford Bio-X, Fellowships at University of Oxford and Fellowships at Weizmann Institute of Science.

Read the interview with Nina Rossen, a researcher at the University of Copenhagen, who talks about her experiences as a fellow.

Further information

Marie-Louise Jersin
Senior Communications Partner
+45 3049 4957 [email protected]