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Enabling ground-breaking research

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Research Leader Programme is an ambitious grant programme aimed at talented research leaders at different stages of their careers. The Foundation has allocated DKK 2.4 billion (€322 million) for the Programme, where individual grants of up to DKK 10 million over 5 years are awarded to excellent research leaders.

The purpose of the Programme is to provide excellent research leaders with sufficient time and resources to pursue ambitious, daring and innovative project ideas that may deliver significant and exciting scientific breakthroughs within their research field.

In addition, the Programme aims to support the continuous development of top researchers.

The Programme comprises three types of grants targeting research leaders at different stages of their career (not all grant types are offered for some scientific fields):

Emerging Investigator. Upcoming and promising researchers who want to establish or are in the process of establishing their own research group and research leader profile.

Ascending Investigator. Talented research leaders at the associate professor level in the process of consolidating their research group and profile.

Distinguished Investigator. Professors of high international standing and caliber.

Grants under the Programme are awarded within the scientific fields:

  • Bioscience and basic biomedical research (2018- );
  • Clinical and translational research (2019- );
  • Data science research (2020- );
  • Endocrinology and metabolic research (2018- );
  • Industrial biotechnology and environmental biotechnology (2021- );
  • Plant science, agriculture and food biotechnology (2021- ); and
  • Biotechnology-based synthesis and production research (2019-2020).

For the first three scientific fields listed above the research leader must be based in Denmark during the project, while research leaders based in any Nordic country may apply for grants for research projects within the remaining of the scientific fields. (In 2021, ‘Industrial biotechnology and environmental biotechnology’ and ‘Plant science, agriculture and food biotechnology’ replaced ‘Biotechnology-based synthesis and production research’).

The ambition of the Foundation is that the grants will create new knowledge on topics such as health, disease and sustainable food production and biomanufacturing for the benefit of people and society.