The Danish Data Science Academy

Lars Kai Hansen, Technical University of Denmark
Grant amount: DKK 184,300,000

The use of big data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence is radically transforming businesses, healthcare, public service, and societies. Denmark is well positioned to benefit from these new opportunities but need to overcome three main challenges to succeed. First, Denmark needs to educate and attract more skilled data science experts to meet current and future demand across the different sectors of society. Secondly, Denmark needs a strong academic ecosystem at the universities that can conduct cutting edge research within data science and AI and offer the best educational programs to the next generation of experts and researchers. Thirdly, connections and collaborations need to be created within the data science community itself, as well as between the community and its stakeholders and collaborators in other scientific fields, in industry, in the healthcare sector, in agriculture, in the public sector, etc. This collaborative, interdisciplinary culture is key to translating academic data science into benefit for society at large and to create synergistic feedback loops between application domains and fundamental methods development.

To tackle these challenges, the Novo Nordisk Foundation and VILLUM Foundation have jointly awarded DKK 184.3 million over the next 5 years (2021 -2026) for the establishment and operations of a Danish Data Science Academy (Grants: Novo Nordisk Foundation DKK 152.5 million and VILLUM Foundation 31.8 million).

The Danish Data Science Academy (DDSA) is a self-governing, national network which:

  • Awards funding for PhD and postdoc fellowships, as well as travel grants to young researchers, via open competition calls welcoming both national and international applicants.
  • Supports the development of new or improved training and education initiatives.
  • Supports the organisation of symposia, workshops, hackathons, conferences, meet-ups and other events to stimulate community-building, collaboration and knowledge-sharing between data scientists and stakeholders in other scientific domains, industry, and the private and public sectors at large.

The DDSA will focus on supporting the education and training of the next generation of data scientists, as well as on connecting research groups, universities, companies, hospitals and other public or private stakeholders into a strong and engaged national data science community. It will be open to all interested researchers (i.e., not just Novo Nordisk Foundation or Villum Foundation grant holders), universities, hospitals, industry, and other stakeholders who wish to contribute to or participate in its activities. Approximately 2/3 of the budget is allocated for fellowships and the remaining part for events, courses, and operational costs.

The DDSA will be governed by representatives from the universities, hospitals, industry, and the public sector. Its Board of Directors is responsible for the overall strategy of the Academy and final approval of the funding decisions. Recommendations for fellowship awards and proposals for events sponsored or co-organized by the Academy will come from the Fellowship Evaluation Committee and the Education & Networking Committee, respectively. Three advisory panels (a national, an international and one for young researchers) will provide structured feedback, strategic recommendations, and input for activities and priorities. A dedicated national secretariat headed by a Managing Director will be located at the Technical University of Denmark to implement the DDSA’s strategy and run its daily operations.

The Danish Data Science Academy is part of the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Data Science Initiative under which the Foundation has allocated an additional DKK 410 million in 2020-2022 for research and infrastructure grants in open competition. The academy will seek to coordinate its activities with other major initiatives in Data Science, including an AI Pioneer Center currently under negotiation, the ELLIS network, EXLIR, the DIREC project (funded by Innovation Fund Denmark), and the Algorithms, Data and Democracy project (funded by the VILLUM Foundation).

You can read more about the DDSA, its activies, open calls, and funding opportunities on its website

Project participants
Lars Kai Hansen, Chairman and Professor
Technical University of Denmark, Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science

Anders Krogh, Vice-chairman and Professor
University of Copenhagen, Center for Health Data Science

Danish Data Science Academy website