Investment capital for university research Aims and funding

The overall aim of the UNIK initiative was to promote world-class research in Danish universities and to advance the government’s goal of at least one Danish university among the ten best in Europe. The proposal behind the initiative was part of the government’s strategy to meet the opportunities and challenges of globalisation; the funding came from a pool of DKK 21 billion established as part of a political agreement in November 2006.3 Specific funding for the initiative was provided in the Danish Finance Acts of 2008 and 2009.

As mentioned, the UNIK initiative represented a new way of granting research funds. Until then, funds distributed on a competitive basis to CoEs were only granted to individual researchers. The initiative offered a substantial DKK 480 million (approximately USD 61.1 million4) in competitive funding to encourage Danish universities, as institutions, to strengthen their strategic efforts to prioritise research and create a distinctive research profile.

The rationale behind the initiative was to provide risk capital for excellent research that universities could use to develop specific skills and enhance their international competitiveness. Moreover, in a period during which several Danish universities were merged, the UNIK initiative was seen as a way to support and bridge the different research environments of the restructured universities.

At present, however, there are no political plans to continue the UNIK initiative with fresh funding. The present government considers that the funding of CoEs should be covered by the universities themselves or by the DNRF, which supports excellent research funds by funding individual researchers (and not universities) with large grants.

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