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The Novo Nordisk Foundation allocates DKK 410 million for a new Data Science Initiative

20 Dec 2019

Data Science will drive progress across all scientific disciplines, from design and discovery of new materials and improving healthcare to developing more sustainable agriculture and new climate solutions. For example, big data and artificial intelligence can provide new knowledge on where to plant crops to optimize their growth, or insights into factors driving health and disease that can lead to new improved diagnoses and treatments.

Data scientists are in great demand from both the public and the private sector. They often have the key to a better understanding of complex issues and are therefore needed in Denmark’s academic research communities, which compete intensely with the private sector for these talented specialists. Retainment of talents in academia is also important for educating the next generation of data scientists. The Novo Nordisk Foundation is therefore launching a new Data Science Initiative and allocating DKK 410 million to be awarded over the next 3 years to strengthen this field.

“Society and the research communities greatly need more data science researchers. We would like to help strengthen the entire field at the national level by enabling excellent research and build-up of knowledge within this area, as well as creating attractive career paths. This initiative puts data science in focus rather than as a support function for other research areas such as medical and technical research. It will strengthen the research environment and educate and inspire future generations of data scientists and strengthen the interdisciplinary research,” says Birgitte Nauntofte, CEO, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

For Denmark to stay at the forefront in science and innovation in the next decade, there is an urgent need to support scientists who understand the foundations of the research field and stimulate the development of novel core algorithms and hardware that will form the basis of tomorrow’s data science. The initiative will focus on supporting data science research broadly from development of fundamental technology and algorithms, including AI, to applications in biomedicine, health, sustainability, biotechnology, and natural and technical science.

When the Foundation’s Data Science Initiative is fully phased in over the next decade, it is expected to contribute to funding up to 200 PhD/postdoctoral fellowships, and up to 40 senior researcher/technical staff positions at universities.

“Data science is already now a fundamental part of all research and will be even more so in the future. There is therefore enormous potential in using artificial intelligence, for example, in healthcare where Denmark has one of the most rich and complete collections of data which can be used to create better understanding of diseases and the development of new diagnostics and treatment, including prevention of diseases,” says Birgitte Nauntofte.

The Foundation’s Data Science Initiative has four connected elements of which three will open for applications in early 2020:

  • Collaborative Research Programme: large collaborative grants supporting excellent and bold data science-driven research ideas;
  • Research Infrastructure Programme: grants aiming to ensure world-class national data science infrastructures (supercomputers, hardware, technical personnel, databases etc.);
  • Investigator Grants: career grants for research leaders at different career stages ensuring an attractive academia career path for the best data scientists.
  • The Foundation also has the intention to establish a national Data Science Academy that will develop new educational and networking activities and provide PhD and postdoctoral fellowships.

Further information

Christian Mostrup Scheel, Senior Press Officer, phone: +45 3067 4805, cims@novo.dk

Data scientists are in short supply due to an increasing demand in society. The Novo Nordisk Foundation is therefore launching a new Data Science Initiative that will support ambitious research programmes and national infrastructures, offer attractive career paths for data science researchers, and educate more specialists in this field.