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Three Projects Aim to Create More Knowledge on the Societal Impact of Research

Researchers Anders Sørensen, Hans Christian Kongsted and Marcel Bogers are each recieving nearly DKK 10 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

How does collaboration between universities and industry influence innovation in companies? How does society benefit from investment in research-based education? Which incentives and barriers do researchers encounter in the synergistic interaction between universities, companies and funders?

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded nearly DKK 10 million to each of three research projects to address these main questions.

The projects are the first to receive grants under the Foundation’s social science research programme, The Socioeconomic Impact of Research in Denmark, the purpose of which is to create new knowledge on the impact of investing in research in Denmark.

The grant recipients are:

  • Anders Sørensen, Professor, Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School;
  • Hans Christian Kongsted, Professor, Department of Innovation and Organizational Economics, Copenhagen Business School; and
  • Marcel Bogers, Associate Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen.

Thomas Alslev Christensen, Head of Operations, Novo Nordisk Foundation, says: “More knowledge is required on the economic impact of research, because this will enhance understanding of how to optimize the benefits from our common research resources. I would like to congratulate the three grant recipients, and I look forward to following their innovative research. I am also pleased to announce that the Foundation is extending its social science research programme, which will enable the Foundation to support more new research projects in 2017 and the years ahead that can shed light on the societal impact of research.”


University spending cuts

Anders Sørensen’s research project, The Socioeconomic Importance of Research-based Education, aims to strengthen knowledge on the societal effects of investing in university education. Specifically, among other outcomes, the project will improve understanding of university cutbacks on the number and quality of students graduating; of how private research funding influences the activities of universities; which qualifications private companies seek from university graduates; and the importance of higher education as an input for successful innovation.

“Our hypothesis is that university spending cuts result in lower quality and fewer students graduating. We do not yet know the scale of the impact but we expect to quantify this in our research project,” says Anders Sørensen.


What drives individual researchers?

Hans Christian Kongsted’s research project aims to improve understanding of the interaction between companies, universities and the organizations that fund research, both public and private. What drives individual researchers, and what incentives and limitations do they face? These are important questions in attempting to quantify how research contributes to creating innovation in society.

“We mainly want to create new and hopefully pioneering results on how research affects society. However, we will also be seeking dialogue with practitioners in companies and policy-makers and thereby contribute to ensuring that the priorities set for research policy are based on the most up-to-date knowledge,” says Hans Christian Kongsted.


Interaction between universities and industry

Marcel Bogers’ research project aims to gain greater insight into the processes that underlie the transfer of knowledge from universities to industry. The project combines a major case study of the Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen; an ethnographic study of selected researchers; and a controlled experiment that will examine the conditions and mechanisms by which university-industri relations can lead to socioeconomic effects. Through this, the project will attempt to provide vital insight into how universities and companies can create the conditions that will make it easier for individuals to participate in boundary-crossing relations that generate results.

“To better understand and improve socioeconomic impact of research, it is vital to get a better insight into the individual-level attributes of the underlying university-industry relations,” says Marcel Bogers.


Copenhagen Business School: Mikael Koldby, Chief Press Officer, [email protected], +45 4020 4454

University of Copenhagen: Geir Tveit, Senior Adviser, [email protected], +45 3533 3001

Novo Nordisk Foundation: Christian Mostrup Scheel, Press Officer, [email protected], +45 3067 4805