May 5, 2021

New academy will strengthen data science in Denmark

A national academy in Denmark will strengthen the training of researchers and interdisciplinary collaboration within data science and help move Denmark up into the global elite in this field. The Novo Nordisk Foundation and VILLUM FONDEN are awarding a combined grant totalling DKK 184.3 million to the Danish Data Science Academy, which will both support and organize activities for research institutes and companies in Denmark.

In recent years, public and private actors have invested significantly in research projects and initiatives to strengthen Denmark’s international position in data science research. The combination of extensive digitalization, electronic data sources of good quality and strong technology-driven companies provide an excellent basis for Denmark to benefit from the new technological opportunities in data science, including the Internet of Things, machine learning and artificial intelligence. However, too few data scientists are being trained to cover future needs, and knowledge sharing and collaboration in Denmark’s data science community needs to be bolstered to enable Denmark to compete with the leading global regions.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation and VILLUM FONDEN are therefore awarding DKK 184.3 million to establish a new Danish Data Science Academy that will bring together and strengthen the many actors and stakeholders within academia, hospitals and the business community in Denmark. The Academy will be based at the Technical University of Denmark.

“All segments of Danish society have huge demand for data science experts. The Academy will provide unique opportunities to support the education and training of the new generations of data scientists and will create a unique data science community in Denmark that can compete internationally and attract talent. We are very grateful that the Novo Nordisk Foundation and VILLUM FONDEN have assumed joint responsibility for strengthening talent development in data science in Denmark and on such a large scale,” comments Lars Kai Hansen, Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Technical University of Denmark and Chair of the Academy.

Focusing on research, teaching and networking

The Danish Data Science Academy is the result of a long process that has involved researchers from across the country and is therefore strongly rooted in Denmark’s data science community. The Academy will focus on strengthening data science as an independent discipline and on stimulating fruitful collaborations harnessing new digital technologies to benefit society in a broad sense.
“The international focus on data science will definitely increase in the future. A hub therefore needs to be created as soon as possible to develop Denmark’s expertise in data science. The Danish Data Science Academy will greatly contribute to creating the right framework for Denmark to take a strong international position in data science based on our excellent framework,” says Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou, Senior Vice President, Biomedicine & Health Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Both the Novo Nordisk Foundation and VILLUM FONDEN have a strategic focus on data science, and the two foundations support different areas of application of the technologies. The combined funding creates a broad initiative that can embrace the entire field and promote collaboration with other foundations and donors.

“Data science is an important field to which VILLUM FONDEN has long contributed. The Danish Data Science Academy will gather the many excellent competencies in Denmark and create opportunities for increased interdisciplinary collaboration across a very wide range of applications and for attracting talented international scientists to Denmark. We hope that the Academy will be a natural hub for several major initiatives in Denmark such as the Digital Research Centre Denmark, the upcoming pioneer centre for artificial intelligence research and the new initiative Algorithms, Data and Democracy, which we launched in collaboration with VELUX FONDEN,” says Thomas Bjørnholm, Director of Science, VILLUM FONDEN.

The Danish Data Science Academy will primarily support and implement three types of activities.

  • Scholarships for PhD and postdoctoral projects, including collaborative projects with hospitals and industry. The scholarships will be awarded following application rounds in open competition. Danish and international students will also have the opportunity to apply for travel scholarships.
  • Financial support for courses and activities for developing new or improved teaching and training courses within data science. The Academy will also create a forum for national coordination and the exchange of experience between universities and the users of their services.
  • Financial support for meetings, conferences and symposia, including events hosted and organized by the Academy with the aim of fostering internationalization, collaboration, networking and knowledge sharing across disciplines, institutions and sectors.

About the Danish Data Science Academy

The Danish Data Science Academy will be based at the Technical University of Denmark and will be established during 2021. You can read more on the Academy’s website

The Chair of the Academy will be Lars Kai Hansen, Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Technical University of Denmark. The Academy will have an international board of directors, a CEO, a secretariat and two committees that will assess and set priorities for the applications received for the activities and scholarships the Academy will support.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation is awarding DKK 152.5 million for establishing and operating the Academy over the next 5.5 years. VILLUM FONDEN has awarded the Academy DKK 31.8 million over the same period.

The Foundation’s data science initiatives

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has allocated DKK 410 million from 2020-2022 to support various initiatives within data science. The purpose is to offer attractive career paths for data science researchers and educate more specialists in this field. Besides the grant to the Danish Data Science Academy, the Foundation is awarding grants for research projects and towards a national infrastructure where data science is the centre of activities.

Further information

Sabina Askholm Larsen, Communications Partner, Novo Nordisk Foundation, +45 2367 3226, [email protected]

Ulrik Nicolai de Lichtenberg, Senior Scientific Manager, Novo Nordisk Foundation, +45 3527 6520, [email protected]

Anna Høxbro Bak, Communications Adviser, VILLUM FONDEN, +45 2264 0355, [email protected]

Lars Kai Hansen, Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Technical University of Denmark, +45 4525 3889, [email protected]