DTU's strategy 2014-2019

...as approved at the Board meeting on 6 December 2013


DTU’s strategy serves as a basis for the long-term development of the University. The strategy comprises general goals and instruments, but does not lay down specific policies, procedures, projects, or funding.

The strategy has a time horizon of six years during which the conditions for DTU’s activities are not static. For this reason the strategy must be robustly designed to prevent it from proving obsolete when difficulties arise or opportunities present themselves. When such events occur—expected in scope, but unpredictable in nature—they should be addressed strategically and not be considered as impeding the implementation of a specific operational plan. This will enable DTU to leverage unexpected events in the long term to promote the development of the University.

The goals of DTU’s strategy comprise: 

Mission: the University’s raison d’être

Vision: the University’s image of its desired future

Strategic objectives: the University’s overall development objectives for the strategic horizon of six years

The instruments of DTU’s strategy are:

Values: the University’s ideals as related to behaviour and attitudes

Organization: the University’s overall organizational division of labour with the concomitant delegation of responsibility and competence

Strategic plan foundation: the University’s overarching means that are utilized to meet the strategic objectives, and which—together with the other instruments—serve to achieve the Vision and fulfil the Mission.


DTU will develop and create value using the natural sciences and the technical sciences to benefit society.

The raison d’être behind DTU’s mission is founded on the polytechnic idea as conceived in the first half of the nineteenth century, since when it has distinguished—and continues to distinguish—all aspects of DTU’s activities and development. This development is characterized by the University continuing to interact closely with society at both national and international levels so as to generate value. This interaction leads to mutually fruitful partnerships with industry, the service sector, and the public sector which are the foundation for DTU’s value creation.


DTU is recognized as an elite technical university, assessed according to the highest international standards, with the traditions of Danish engineering as the foundation for its activities.

DTU is known for active and close interaction between the technical sciences, the natural sciences and adjacent scientific disciplines; between practice, theoretical and empirical research; between researchers and students, and between the University and society in general. 

As an elite technical university, and through its collaboration with private and public sector stakeholders, DTU is to act as a driving force for welfare and sustainable value creation in Danish society, and should consistently take on the same role in an international context. 

DTU’s vision involves the University acknowledging its role as a driving force in the technical and the natural sciences for Danish society—and taking on responsibility for supporting sustainability as a national capability, while recognizing that it can only fulfil its mission in a globalized competitive world by being of the same calibre as leading international technical universities: i.e. being an elite university.

Strategic objectives


DTU will be recognized and respected globally as a leading elite technical university because of the quality of its research, its graduates, its values, and its university culture.

DTU will be among the five leading technical universities in Europe.

DTU will consolidate and develop its international alliances to support the University’s activities in the fields of education, research, scientific advice, and innovation—and will supplement same where this makes a strategic contribution to the University’s value creation.

DTU will develop those life sciences fields which—from an engineering perspective—constitute a continuously growing and key element in the University’s activities.

DTU will give priority to beautiful and functional campuses with visible and multi-faceted social activities, including attractive student environments. DTU will promote internationalization through a culturally inclusive, secular and cosmopolitan campus life.


DTU will offer and develop degree programmes in engineering at BEng, BSc, MSc, and PhD level that match current and future requirements, and which are of the highest standard and quality as measured by international standards.

As the leading institution in Denmark for BEng, BSc, MSc, and PhD programmes, DTU will maintain elite focus and subject orientation, and will apply pedagogical and didactic practices to challenge all students to their limits.

On a par with other international elite universities, DTU will expand its educational capacity so as to deliver more engineers to industry.

DTU teaches degree programmes that are open to both Danish and international students, and will supply new polytechnic programmes that appeal to qualified students with supplementary academic backgrounds from fields other than physics or chemistry.

DTU will assure and expand the students’ access to experimental facilities and activities designed to train engineers.

DTU will reinforce and develop formal and informal teaching environments for students and lecturers that support and promote presence and an active student environment on campus.

DTU will attract more highly qualified overseas students and significantly increase the number of Danish graduates who have completed a part of their DTU study programmes at recognized international universities.

DTU’s study programmes will be designed to ensure that sustainability is an integrated part of all courses. Similarly, all students will complete programme components intended to boost skills in innovation and entrepreneurship.

DTU will incorporate e-learning as an integrated and value-generating component in its study programmes designed for on-campus students and, on this basis, will develop e-learning activities targeted at the international community.

DTU will strengthen its position as a provider of ‘lifelong learning’.


DTU’s research will lay the foundations for a unique education culture and new ways of learning, an innovation culture that fosters and promotes entrepreneurship, spin-outs and corporate innovation, and—on the basis of academic freedom and scientific independence—deliver and develop advisory services and decision-support systems for the benefit of national and international authorities, private organizations and enterprises.

DTU will have the capacity, scientific capability, and leadership necessary to continuously create and develop excellent research environments. 

Within their respective primary disciplines and fields of interest, DTU’s departments will be able to develop and maintain internationally leading research environments.

Within the framework of the traditions and practices of polytechnic science, DTU will further develop its interaction and scope with adjacent sciences and fields of research. The University will apply significant research strength to laying the foundations for technologies and processes that promote innovation and sustainability, and which address major societal challenges.

DTU’s research will interact internationally with leading private and public research centres and facilitate increasing participation in major transnational research projects and consortia.

Scientific advice

DTU will supply scientific advice to public authorities in Denmark that assure the quality and timeliness of the services provided and which make the University the leading supplier in Denmark of advisory services within its fields of academic capability.

Within areas that present opportunities for continued funding of activities, DTU will develop new advisory services, in which the competencies of the University and its partners in the field of scientific decision support can be brought to bear on—and contribute to solving—complex problems faced by both public and private sector enterprises.

DTU will maintain a dedicated dialogue with international organizations, authorities, regions, and major cities, and will offer advisory services that make the University an increasingly preferred international provider of scientific decision support for solving complex problems.

DTU will utilize its scientific knowledge in the fields of the technical and the natural sciences—along with its insight into different sectors and their framework conditions—to work with business sectors and authorities to create means which, through the development of technology and processes, boost both public and private sector efficiency, competitiveness and sustainability.


DTU will be recognized for its internationally leading innovation environments—in collaboration with other elite technical universities, for example—with a view to generate value in society in the form of growth, new knowledge-based enterprises and jobs.

Innovation will be an integrated part of the University’s activities in connection with education, research, and scientific advice.

Through research projects, collaborations with industry and student activities, and by promoting entrepreneurship and corporate innovation, DTU will reinforce the innovation potential of industry.

DTU will be on a par with other elite technical universities in the fields of agreements with industries, joint publications, patents, licenses, and start-ups where DTU will focus on establishing viable businesses.

DTU will provide facilities that allow the design, development and testing of specific product and service concepts.

Through continuing education, matchmaking, knowledge sharing, etc., DTU will assure dissemination of the University’s knowledge about innovation and technological development, with a view to making it known and applied in society.

Support functions

DTU’s administration of its activities as a financially autonomous institution will be developed into a model of efficient university management.

DTU’s management and HR policy will support education, research, scientific advice, and innovation by:

-          attracting and developing skilled staff who live up to the values of the University

-          selecting and training talented managers

-          establishing a framework for making DTU a challenging and innovative workplace with an accountable work environment

DTU’s infrastructure will support education, research, scientific advice, and innovation by:

-          having modern and competitive experimental facilities and infrastructure

-          establishing world-class research facilities in fields in which a special competitive advantage can be created

DTU’s finances will support education, research, scientific advice, and innovation within the potential of financial autonomy by:

-          a transparent and sustainable pricing of services

-          ensuring sound operations, which allows operational flexibility

-          maintaining good liquidity, which ensures that attention is not diverted from operations

-          ensuring solid financial performance, which bolsters financial autonomy and ensures stability

-          a long-term consolidation of assets that supports the integrity of the University


Innovative thinking

Innovative thinking means creatively promoting ideas that can create new value but also a balanced assessment of the effects of carrying out these ideas.

DTU will therefore:

-          create space for unleashing creativity and encourage idea generation

-          maintain dialogue with society at both national and international levels

-          positively welcome different and new ideas


-          respecting the contemplation that can emerge from reflection

-          encouraging critical analysis of alternatives to the ideas generated

-          recognizing the need for the temporary conclusions inherent to all knowledge


Credibility means possessing knowledge and insight and properly communicating this, but also includes recognizing when knowledge and insight are inadequate and the ability to communicate based on the prerequisites of the recipient.

DTU will therefore:

-          possess state-of-the-art knowledge and insight within the technical and the natural sciences and adjacent scientific fields

-          acquire new scientific and technological knowledge and competencies through research of the highest international quality

-          gather results and add expertise from other leading knowledge institutions and companies engaged in substantial research through research collaboration and exchange of competencies


-          being credible in its communication, communicating both solid knowledge and the uncertainty and inadequacy of the current stage of science

-          being frank in its communication, communicating in a way that does not allow misinterpretation and is adapted to the recipients’ background and need for information

-          being useful in its communication, communicating so that the recipient can use the communicated knowledge directly and effectively 


Commitment means approaching work with enthusiasm, but also recognizing one’s responsibility as a staff member towards the collective effort.

DTU will therefore:

-          offer positions that are professionally and socially attractive and challenging to all categories of staff

-          generate respect in society as a challenging and stimulating workplace dedicated to integrating employees from different organizations, cultures and countries

-          provide space for great diversity in its workforce, including supporting loyal, talented individualists; colourful, energetic personalities, and employees who can make special contributions to the collective efforts in professional, cultural or collegial terms 


-          requiring mutual commitment in carrying out the University’s tasks of a quality similar to that of the best technical universities in the world

-          demanding relentless striving individually and collectively towards achieving the University’s ambitious goals and objectives

-          expecting that each staff member contributes actively to the psychologically healthy, social, and productive work environment as an important part of the work culture at DTU 


DTU is a financially autonomous university with a Board of Governors as its highest authority. The Academic Council decides certain academic matters. The President (Rector), who is appointed by the Board of Governors, is responsible for the daily management of the University.

DTU is organized as a corporate entity with an Executive Board comprising the President, Provost (Vice-Rector), University Director, and a number of deans. The Board of Governors appoints the Provost and the University Director based on the recommendation of the President. The President appoints the remaining staff of the Executive Board.

DTU is managed as a line/staff organization with an unbroken chain of command and in which managers have personal management responsibility for each organizational unit. This means that the single point of responsibility principle applies throughout the organization, and that all staff have an immediate superior.

The University’s main activities are anchored in line units comprising departments and special university units, as well as subsidiaries when activities are appropriately organized using the arms-length principle. Support activities are organized in staff units.

The structure creates coherence between responsibility and authority, so that the management processes are clear and consistent. DTU’s advisory, collaboration and communication system ensures quality and involvement in the decisions of the management system.

DTU being a managed university throughout the organization entails freedom to act based on dialogue and extensive delegation of management competence, linked to responsibility for completion of the assignment based on culture-borne common sense and consideration at all levels. This also entails a corporate culture that prefers and makes room for considered management decisions rather than a rigid and detailed management by rules.

Strategic plan foundation


DTU retains its polytechnic, single-faculty nature and optimizes utilization of complementary strengths on a pan-organizational basis.

DTU collaborates with other universities and research institutions in Denmark with the aim of utilizing complementary fields of excellence.

DTU establishes mutually binding international alliances and collaborations with leading technical universities and research institutions with the aim of creating synergy and effectiveness.

DTU enters into binding agreements with research-driven commercial enterprises to exchange knowledge and create value.

DTU is a credible partner in its external agreements, such that its partners can confidently expect the University to deliver what it has promised—including handling confidential information.

DTU’s quality assurance will create value and be cost-efficient.

DTU provides the framework for alumni to maintain a value-creating association with the University.


DTU offers degree programmes in engineering within the entire spectrum of the technical and the natural sciences—including the life sciences—and adjacent fields in the social sciences through its own programmes or in collaboration with other nationally and internationally leading partner universities.

In ongoing dialogue with society, DTU offers future-proof engineering degree programmes that meet the future-oriented needs of the business community. Further, the University offers degree programmes in fields in which society requires DTU’s capabilities.

DTU structures its degree programmes and degrees in accordance with the Bologna Declaration on the European space for higher education, such that the students obtain optimal opportunities to compose degree programmes, including MSc programmes, in an international network of leading universities.

DTU’s BEng programme is a practically oriented bachelor’s degree, emphasizing basic technical disciplines, strong application-oriented specialization, firm foundations in the engineering practices, and training in using new research results with a comprehensive approach to carrying out tasks. The programme is organized with a coherent structure comprising conceiving, designing, implementing, operating (CDIO) in close interaction with the business community.

DTU’s BSc and MSc programmes are based on the Bologna process, emphasizing creative synthesis founded on basic disciplines in the technical and the natural sciences, excellence in research-related specialization, training within theoretical modelling, experimental analysis, and a comprehensive polytechnic approach. The programmes are designed with structured flexibility and substantial choice.

DTU’s PhD programmes focus on promising fields of research, with emphasis on quantitative coherence between theory and practice. The PhD programme is based on active guidance from productive, experienced researchers and a dedicated range of courses.

DTU uses and develops forms of teaching that, in addition to developing academic skills, develops students’ personal and social competencies.

DTU develops and executes education activities in close partnership with private enterprises and public sector organizations.

DTU applies forms of examination that document the proficiency obtained, support learning through feedback during the course of study, and reflect both learning objectives and teaching methods.


DTU promotes promising fields of research within the technical and the natural sciences, especially based on usefulness to society, relevance to business, and sustainability.

DTU encourages original basic and applied research within the technical and the natural sciences, especially based on innovation, the power of fascination, promoting talent, and addressing the interfaces between research disciplines and fields of interest.

DTU systematically develops its experimental facilities as a parameter in international competition.

DTU ensures a broad foundation for research, which is imperative given the University's role as a national centre for knowledge and as an international node within the technical and the natural sciences and on the requirements posed by research-based teaching, scientific advice, and innovation.

Scientific advice

DTU’s agreement model for scientific advice to authorities—including surveillance, contingency systems, and decision support—specifies division of responsibilities and obligations, and reassures the client in the execution of the task.

DTU’s quality concept for decision support ensures that the client’s needs are met and documents the extent of the task and the level at which the task is to be carried out.

In its advisory services and decision support, DTU develops and utilizes concepts and practises which, on scientific foundations, operationalizes the client’s objectives, including documents the fulfilment of sustainability criteria.

DTU continuously accumulates knowledge about business sectors’ manufacturing and framework conditions so as to ensure that DTU’s contribution to the dialogue about the development of technology-dependent business sectors is focused and efficient.

DTU ensures and constantly monitors that its advisory services are communicated in a comprehensible and relevant manner in relation to the receiver and, in the public debate, contributes to dialogue based on facts.


DTU’s integrated system of innovation includes research, education, patenting, licensing, industrial collaboration, business incubation, and operation of science parks.

DTU utilizes its capacity for transferring technology through agreements with companies, for patenting and licensing activities, for starting up companies, and for expanding activities related to science parks.

DTU is in dedicated, mutually binding dialogue with the business community.

Support functions

DTU’s management model and HR policy implement DTU’s values and appeal selectively to the various staff groups and individual employees the University requires.

DTU’s finances will be transparent and demonstrate correspondence between resource consumption and results, as well as document efficiency.

DTU will maximize its funding of activities within its academic scope by:

-          obtaining competitive research grants

-          professional fund-raising that respects the interests of the sponsor

-          supplying continuing and further education

-          commercializing intellectual property rights and innovative expertise on market terms

-          engaging in ongoing dialogue that supports the political allocation of public funds through earmarked programmes, special allocations, contracts, and basic funding

-          engaging in international outreach activities, including lobbying and creating alliances

DTU will refine a common IT-supported administrative system that ensures efficient administration and creates the basis for purposeful management implementation of the strategy.


Download DTU's strategy 2014-2019 (PDF) to learn more about our mission, vision, strategic objectives, values, organization, and strategic plan foundation.