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Challenge Programme 2021: Proteins for tomorrow’s food

Call opens
3 August 2020
Call closes
29 October 2020 2:00pm (CET)
Announcement of results
Stage 1: Early January 2021
Stage 2: June 2021
Recurring calls
New Challenge Thems Expected in 2021
Application guidelines


The purpose of the NNF Challenge Programme is to make substantial contribution to the development and strengthening of the Danish research environment, within research aimed to solve major challenges in global health, technology and sustainability.

About the grant


DKK 30-60 million per grant



Career stage

Research Leaders (Established/Prof.), Research Leaders (junior/non-tenured), Research Leaders (Mid-career/Associate Prof.)


For grant inquiries
Sisse Marquina-Jongberg
Senior Scientific Lead, PhD
+45 7242 2557 [email protected]
Camilla Stensgaard Andersson
Grant Manager
[email protected]


The Challenge Programme supports excellent researchers, that will establish and collaborate in a dynamic centre structure with a unifying vision and mission. The Programme provides long-term funding to enable scientific depth and focus and facilitate synergy between the research partners.

Research Theme 2021

The programme is a strategic effort targeting specific challenges within annually selected research themes. For the 2021 application call, the Challenge Programme is seeking to support the following research theme:

  • Proteins for tomorrow’s food

With the overall aim of substituting animal-based food proteins with safe and healthy alternatives, the challenge is to understand and modulate the functional structural properties of plant, fungal and microbial proteins, to understand their interplay with other components in the food matrix and to create desired structures and taste.

The research must be in-depth, preferably cross- or inter-disciplinary, of fundamental character and may include any research methodology or discipline within natural and technical sciences.


The Challenge Programme supports excellent research leaders from 2-4 groups (main applicant plus 1-3 co-applicants).

The programme leader should be at least 50% employed at a Danish university, hospital or other non-profit research organization, that will be considered the host institution of the project.

The research institutions of the co-applicants can be located in Denmark or abroad. The co-applicants should contribute significantly to the advancement of the project and should receive part of the funding.

Industry collaboration is possible, however, funding cannot be awarded to the industrial partner(s).


Each Challenge Programme application can request funding for up to approximately DKK 10 million per year for 6 years, for a total budget of DKK 30-60 million.

Application process

The application process will consist of two stages.

Stage 1: A short expression of interest will be evaluated by an international expert committee. The best applicants will be invited to submit a Stage 2 application.
Stage 2: An application with a detailed project proposal. The main applicant will be invited for interview with the international committee.

Please read ”Information and Guidelines for Applicants” carefully before initiating the application process. Additional and essential information is found in these guidelines.

Click here to see a list of previous Grant recipients.

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