Photo: Bjørn Lymann Jespersen

Ten researchers receive grants for 'wild' experiments

Biotechnology and biochemistry Energy Physics Information technology Medicine and medico technology
VILLUM FONDEN is giving ten researchers up to DKK 2 million (EUR 268,000) each in funding to explore novel ideas. The money is earmarked for innovative and ‘wild’ ideas.

Under its new ‘VILLUM Experiment’ programme, VILLUM FONDEN is awarding millions to 38 researchers at Danish universities—including 10 from DTU.

The research ideas are all technical or scientific in nature, challenge the norms, and have the potential to fundamentally change the way we approach key issues.

The ideas from DTU are drawn from seven different departments, and range from quantum particles in diamonds to tapping sugar syrup from plants and a 3D reconstruction of a mouse brain.

It is not just the projects that are experimental: The process of selecting experiments is different to the usual approach for allocating research grants, as the applications were anonymous and were assessed by an international panel of experts.

Professor Marcos Gonzalez-Gaitan, from Université de Geneva in Switzerland, is one of the external judges involved in selecting the experiments. Regarding ‘VILLUM Experiments’, he says:

“It has been exciting and challenging to read the series of anonymous applications. It is a completely new way of approaching research. A very interesting ‘experiment’ that has expanded my scientific horizon and forced me to focus solely on the research ideas. Kudos to VILLUM FONDEN for daring to take the risk. As who knows, perhaps only one of the 10 experiments will ultimately create something unique.”

This is the first time that VILLUM FONDEN has awarded grants under ‘VILLUM Experiment’.

The ten researchers from DTU who are receiving funding for their unorthodox ideas: 

 Researcher Department Project Funding
Nikolaus Sonnenschein DTU Biosustain   Biology in the cloud: a step towards fully automatic experiments  2 million
Tim Dyrby DTU Compute 3D reconstruction of a mouse brain’s neural connections
2 million
Kent Kammer Hansen DTU Energy

Electrochemical reduction of NOx emissions using a new tri-functional cathode

1.5 million
Roar R. Søndergaard DTU Energy 

In situ synthesis and 3D structuring of nanocomposites with various properties from solution  

2 million 
Haitham El-Ella DTU Physics Condensing quantum particles in diamonds 1.9 million
Hugh Simons DTU Physics X-ray microscopy turned inside out  1.6 million  
Kaare Hartvig Jensen DTU Physics Tapping sugar syrup from plants  2 million
Nikolaj Sorgenfrei Blom DTU Chemical Engineering  Disarming resistant microbes using resonance waves (DireWaves)  2 million
Seunghwan Lee DTU Mechanical Engineering  ArthroLube: A new method to improve the biocompatibility and lifetime of joint implants  2 million
Xiaolong Zhu DTU Nanotech  Plasmon-heated nano tip: A light bar for nanoscience  1.7 million