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Challenge Programme 2023 – Future Agri-Food Systems

Call opens
16 August 2022
Call closes
26 October 2022 2:00pm (CET)
Announcement of results
Stage 1: December 2022
Stage 2: June 2023
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. 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.

About the grants


Up to DKK 30-60 million per grant




For grant inquiries
Jeremy A. Daniel
Senior Scientific Manager, PhD
[email protected]
Camilla Stensgaard Andersson
Grant Manager
[email protected]

Research Theme 2023

The programme is a strategic effort targeting specific challenges within annually selected research themes. For the 2023 application call, the Challenge Programme is seeking to support the following research theme:

  • Future Agri-Food Systems

The challenge is to enable a transformation of agri-food systems that will secure sustainable, and healthy foods for all. The programme is aimed at fundamental and strategic research spanning primary production to consumption, as well as financial structures required for this transition.

The research must be interdisciplinary in nature – within technology readiness levels (TRL) 1 through 4 – and touch upon more than a single link in the agri-food value chain, such that feedback loops within the food system are possible. Research strictly focusing on single parts of the value chain, e.g., breeding, ingredients, or food processing technologies, will be considered too narrow. Production of biomass for feed, energy, or materials may be part of the research if it constitutes an integrated part of a circular food system. Behaviour and preferences related to food consumption, livestock commodities, and regulatory frameworks are not in focus.

Any research methodology or discipline can be included, but a clear element of life science rooted in agriculture and/or food production is required. NNF is particularly keen to support data science research interfacing with agricultural and food science areas and strongly recommends a clear data science component in the research. NNF also encourages a high-risk approach for the proposed research. The programme does not include development of specific end-products.

Supported research may include, but is not limited to:

  • Development of circular food production systems with optimised resource use and biomass conversion efficiencies, e.g., linking biomanufacturing, economics, and landscape planning
  • Development of production systems for healthy and safe food that employ sustainability traits in the field, e.g., linking nutrition, microbiology, genetics, and agronomy
  • Design of new, resilient, and high-yielding cropping systems, e.g., linking functional ecology, agricultural systems, and robotics
  • Development of financial structures that promote sustainable agriculture and food production, e.g., linking biodiversity, processing technologies, and economics
  • Development of digital twins of agroecosystems, food industry 4.0, or other multi-scale systems analysis tools for sustainability, e.g., linking machine learning, field sensing, imaging techniques, and ecosystem productivity
  • Eco-friendly blockchain-driven commodity trading for traceability of environmental indicators or food quality parameters, e.g., linking data science, trading, and remote sensing


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

The programme leader must be at least 75% affiliated with 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 industrial partner(s).


A total of up to DKK 120 million is available for grants between DKK 30 million and DKK 60 million for projects lasting up to 6 years.

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 read more about the Challenge Programme and to see a list of previous Grant recipients.

The Challenge evaluation committee can be found here

Grant listings

All the projects we have funded are listed here. You can customise your search by grant year and category and use free text search.

Managing a grant

Read more about how to manage a grant and what general information you need as a grant holder.