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“Bold” ideas granted millions in research funding

Grant — For the second year running, the Villum Experiment programme has made grants to scientific research. This year, the University of Copenhagen will receive 37.5 million kroner to fund wild ideas

After making 73 million kroner in grants to fund ground-breaking scientific research in Denmark last year, the Villum Foundation has announced that it will increase the amount to 100 million kroner this year.

Amongst the recipients are 20 University of Copenhagen scientists, who will receive up to 2 million kroner each for projects the likes of ‘daydreaming algorithms’ and ‘plant black holes’. In all, 37.5 million kroner will go to research to be carried out at the university.

Maybe only a small portion of the research will produce something unique – but it only takes one bold idea to change the world

Thomas Bjørnholm, chief scientific officer, Villum Foundation

Off-the-wall, ground-braking

The grants were awarded based on an anonymous application process. The alternative application process ensured that the selection committee could choose the most extraordinary ideas. By avoiding the traditional peer-review method of awarding funding, the Villum Foundation hopes to make it easier for bold ideas to receive grants.

“The Villum Foundation aims to help create space for radical and innovative research that has the potential to fundamentally alter our approach to important issues. The bold idea, which you might not dare to propose openly, might challenge accepted research and might get overlooked by the conventional peer-review funding system,” Thomas Bjørnholm, the Villum Foundation executive chief scientific officer, said in a statement.

The power to change

The programme is also something of an experiment for the Villum Foundation, given that the projects are just as likely to fail as succeed.

“It’s not an easy decision to change the way we evaluate applications and instead fund projects and applicants that, on the one hand, challenge the norm, yet, on the other, present the best idea. Maybe only a small portion of the research will produce something unique – but it only takes one bold idea to change the world,” Bjørnholm said.

Funding is for a period of two years. All University of Copenhagen projects will be carried out by the Department of Science (SCIENCE). A full list of projects is available on the Villum Foundation’s website.