Major initiative for basic research in the technical and the natural sciences

Wednesday 08 Oct 14

What is a Center of Excellence?

The Center of Excellence (CoE) programme is the primary funding mechanism and the Danish National Reserach Foundation’s flagship.

A center grant is large and flexible, and a center may have a lifetime of up to 10 years. Only top researchers with the most ambitious ideas will be awarded a CoE through fierce competition involving a two-stage application process.

The objective of the CoE programme is to strengthen Danish research by providing the best possible working conditions and organizational set-up for selected top researchers.

Press release from the foundation

"1 billion from the Danish National Research Foundation to 12 new ground-breaking research centers."

Read the foundation's press release in its entirety.

The Danish National Research Foundation is investing DKK 170 million in three new basic research centres at DTU—commonly known as ‘Centers of Excellence’.

The high-speed, energy-efficient internet of the future, nanocapsules for drug delivery, and improved scanning technology for medical image processing—as well as deeper understanding of cell processes—are among the intended targets for research at the three new Centers of Excellence to be established at DTU.

The Danish National Research Foundation has recently singled out the 12 areas of research—three of which are located at DTU—in which the foundation wishes to invest a total of DKK 700 million over the coming six years. The foundation has also earmarked a further DKK 400 million for a four-year extension of the centres that perform particularly well.

The three coming basic research centres at DTU will jointly receive up to DKK 170 million. DTU Provost Henrik Caspar Wegener explains that this will give a huge boost to research in the field of technology:

"The three new centres represent areas of research at DTU that are of great benefit to society as a whole."
Executive Vice President and Provost Henrik C. Wegener

“We are delighted to see research into technology and natural sciences at DTU attracting this kind of backing. The three new centres represent areas of research at DTU that are of great benefit to society as a whole—areas where researchers can now work with longer time horizons, allowing them to delve deeper into things and follow more unconventional paths. This is the recipe for major technological breakthroughs. The research-related and cognitive results we are sure to see from the centres will—no doubt—help bolster the innovative drive of Danish hi-tech enterprises in the long term.”

DTU already operates two Centers of Excellence: the Center for Nanostructured Graphene (CNG) and the Center for Individual Nanoparticle Functionality (CINF).

DTU’s three new Centers of Excellence:

Research into the internet of the future

The Center of Excellence Silicon Photonics for Optical Communications (SPOC) will receive up to DKK 59 million from the Danish National Research Foundation.

The centre is tasked with developing the scientific basis for a new era in communication with the goal of achieving ultimate data capacity combined with significant energy efficiency improvements.
Its tasks will include developing new light sources for ultra-broadband super channels and secure communication, and researching new, spatially distributed transmission technologies to create opportunities for even more data transmission. Silicon is key to this research as the material is used to make optical chips with the capacity to create particularly spatially distributed light, perform ultra-fast signal processing and emit ultra-broadband light and individual photons. The new centre’s activities will continue to build on a number of records that the team of researchers behind the centre at DTU Fotonik have already set, including the fastest chip in the world—which can process the fastest serial optical data signal to date—and the world record for the volume of data transmitted in the light from a single laser (43 Tbit/s).

Additional information:
Professor Leif Katsuo Oxenløwe, Head of Centre, Silicon Photonics for Optical Communications (SPOC);
Tel. +45 45 25 37 84 / email:



Research into drug delivery via nano and microcapsules

The Center of Excellence Intelligent oral Drug delivery Using Nano and microfabricated containers (IDUN) will receive up to DKK 56 million from the Danish National Research Foundation..

Doctors often prefer administering drugs orally, as this is the easiest and least unpleasant method for the patient. There are, however, a number of obstacles to administering medication orally. For example, the medicine is often broken down by the acid environment in the stomach, which is why some medicine must be administered intravenously. The new IDUN basic research centre will now work to improve the efficiency of oral drug delivery. Under the leadership of Professor Anja Boisen, the centre will design containers measuring just a few micrometres for oral drug delivery. These containers are to function as tiny toolboxes, designed with internal compartments for bioactive substances and trigger devices.

Results from the first experiments with micro-containers indicate that passage through the intestinal wall boosts the effect of the active substances in the medicine by a factor of ten.
The development of micro-containers for human patients makes high demands on micro and nanotechnological know-how, and new discoveries and research breakthroughs are sure to be achieved when nano-fabrication experts, theorists, pharmaceutical developers and application specialists have the opportunity to combine their skills over the coming six years. The results will initially benefit treatments for HIV and diabetes in particular.

Additional information:
Professor Anja Boisen, Head of Centre, Intelligent oral Drug delivery Using Nano and microfabricated containers (IDUN);

Tel. +45 27 28 59 99 / email:



Research into improved scanning technologies for medical image processing

The Center of Excellence Center for Hyperpolarization in Magnetic Resonance will receive up to DKK 55 million from the Danish National Research Foundation.


Image generation using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) plays an important role in many branches of science today, from physics and chemistry to biology and medicine. The application of the methods is limited when it comes to generating images of rapid dynamic processes, or measuring extremely low substance concentrations both in vivo and in vitro.

Hyperpolarization using Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) is one way to address the problem, given that DNP makes it possible to amplify the signal more than 10,000 times. This, in turn, allows the study of aspects that would otherwise be impossible to pin down.

Hyperpolarization is an advanced technological method for magnetizing substances. A substance with a powerful magnetic signal can be used for medical imaging and cancer diagnosis, for example. When the substance is injected into the patient, a subsequent MRI scan will not only reveal a cancerous tumour, but also provide insight into the metabolism of the tumour itself. Doctors can thus build up a better idea of how aggressive the cancer is, and of whether or not it is responding to treatment. Similarly, hyperpolarization using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) may provide a window into the inner workings of the cells themselves, thus providing a tool for understanding and optimising the function of both human and industrially applied cells.

Hyperpolarization using DNP is still in its infancy, however. Improved understanding and a better theoretical description of the fundamental scientific processes behind DNP hyperpolarization will constitute the nucleus of this particular Center of Excellence.


Additional information:
Honorary Professor Jan Henrik Ardenkjær-Larsen, Head of Centre, Center for Hyperpolarization in Magnetic Resonance;

Tel. +45 +40 27 27 75 / email: 

Professor Jens Øllgaard Duus, tel. +45 20 83 52 07 / email:

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