DTU’s Commemoration Day

“Diversity is a huge source of creativity and innovation”

DTU Professor Anja Boisen regards innovation as a natural part of her research and supports students and researchers in developing innovative and viable solutions for the benefit of society. Now she has received DTU’s Innovation Prize.

Professor Anja Boisen
Curiosity is the driving factor for Anja Boisen as a researcher. Photo: Jesper Scheel.
Professor Anja Boisen receives Innovation Prize
Anja Boisen receives DTU’s Innovation Prize from Marianne Thellersen, Senior Vice President - Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Photo: Steen Brogaard.

Healthcare challenges

The rotating disc technology was originally developed for children with leukaemia, who receive very high doses of the drug methotrexate. This is a treatment developed at Rigshospitalet, and it entails that hospital staff have to monitor the children closely, because it is very important that they do not receive too much or too little chemotherapy.

If you can measure the concentration of medicine in the blood with a medical sensor in a few minutes, the expectation is that you can monitor the patient in real time without the need for specialized labour. You also avoid waiting several days for laboratory results.

In another project, researchers aim to revolutionize everyday life for, for example, diabetics. Anja Boisen and her colleagues are working to create a solution where insulin and vaccines are administered without using needles. The idea is that the patients take their insulin as a pill that ensures when passing through the body that the insulin is protected until it is delivered to the right place in the intestine.

"We’re facing some huge healthcare challenges, which we’re working to resolve in the IDUN center’s large-scale projects. It’s about getting medicine into the body without injections and about getting medicine that is not very accessible into the body. But it’s also about diagnosing more accurately and being able to provide more personalized treatments. If we can develop more accessible analyses and monitor patients individually and effectively, we’ll be able to diagnose faster than now,” says Anja Boisen.

Will harvest body energy

One of her wildest ideas is to examine whether you can harvest energy inside the body. Today, the patient has to swallow a battery-powered camera if the intestine is to be examined from the inside. Instead, Anja Boisen is working to use stomach acid or intestinal movement to harvest energy:

“We’re developing both sensors and devices that can take samples from the stomach or intestine. And they need a little energy. As the intestine is constantly moving, there must be something inside the body from which we can harvest energy that can be converted into electrical energy. It will also make it significantly more comfortable for the patient. It’s a pretty crazy idea, and few researchers have developed anything like this.”

Inspiring students and researchers

In her daily work, Anja Boisen supports students and researchers in developing innovative and viable solutions for the benefit of society. She is herself a co-founder of five start-ups in which postdocs, PhDs and students participate. And, according to her, all PhD students at DTU Health Tech know someone who is developing a business. Or they are doing it themselves. This means that they honour the IDUN center’s motto: ‘Bringing science to life’.

One of Anja Boisen’s methods for motivating her colleagues is to make the IDUN staff’s work visible. On the wall outside her DTU office, there is a large screen where senior researchers, postdocs, and PhD students from 25 nationalities post information about, for example, the number of publications, new grants, applications, and rejections.

“It’s important to support those who are curious about starting their own businesses and establishing local ecosystems. And the board helps do that. We celebrate our successes. And we put a lot of effort into understanding how we can improve collaboration across cultures and disciplines. It is a huge advantage that we come from so many nations—just as it means that we may misunderstand each other. But I think diversity is a huge source of creativity and innovation.”


  • Became a PhD in 1997. Was appointed Professor and Head of Section in 2005.
  • Has received the Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award, the EliteForsk Prize (the largest individual Danish research prize), and the Alexander Foss Gold Medal.
  • In 2020, she was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Dannebrog for her longstanding research activities.
  • Recipient of two ERC Advanced grants, among other awards, and head of Basic Research Centre.
  • Co-founder of five spin-outs based on her research.
  • Board member of VILLUM FONDEN, the LEO Foundation, Heliac, and LightNovo.
  • Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters and the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences (ATV).


Just like the research, innovation at DTU primarily takes place in the academic environments in the University’s departments and centres. In addition, DTU has a number of special players that support a well-developed innovation ecosystem. They include:

  • DTU Skylab—an innovation hub—a meeting place for students, researchers, and external partners. DTU Skylab offers various resources and facilities to promote innovation among researchers and students across DTU in collaboration with companies, organizations, and other universities.
  • DTU Entrepreneurship—a centre engaged in research and education in entrepreneurship. In close collaboration with companies and the business sector, the centre develops practice-oriented study programmes and courses in entrepreneurship.
  • DTU Earthbound—a funding initiative where profits from Preseed Ventures are channelled into the innovation ecosystem, and with funding of research-based climate technology inventions through grants to researchers and students.
  • PreSeed Ventures—a venture house anchored at DTU, whose mission is to pave the way for entrepreneurs who build businesses that create change. PreSeed Ventures comprises PSV Foundry, PSV Lab and the two unique venture funds, PSV Tech and PSV DeepTech. The venture house works to challenge existing methods and models to maximize influence for both businesses and investments.
  • DTU Science Park—one of Europe’s largest and leading communities for deep tech businesses. DTU Science Park offers internationally recognized growth programmes for start-ups as well as facilities and services that create optimal conditions for growth. It provides access to mentors, business developers, technical consultants, investors, acceleration programmes, fundraising, and DTU.