This post is also available in: Danish

Denmark’s talented researchers must become better at collaborating across universities and industry. Only then do we stand a chance against the big foreign knowledge institutions.

Denmark has researchers in the absolute world elite. Morten Meldal proved this most recently when the professor of chemistry at the University of Copenhagen received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2022.

Of course, this does not mean that Danish researchers are the best in the world in every field, but the universities each have niches where they are at the forefront. And that’s why it’s so obvious for researchers to work better together across the strengths of each university, says Thomas Riisgaard Hansen, Managing Director of Digital Research Centre Denmark (DIREC).

“Danish researchers can easily compete with the best from Stanford, Berkeley and MIT – it’s just in very narrow areas. That’s why it’s important that we bring researchers together, because new ideas emerge when you meet someone you don’t work with every day,” says Thomas Riisgaard Hansen, Managing Director of DIREC.

How does collaboration happen?

Artificial intelligence researchers know each other across Danish universities. But there are also researchers in other fields – such as robotics – with whom they could collaborate. And here DIREC expects to make a difference by facilitating matchmaking and at the same time financially supporting projects that cut across Danish universities.

“It’s all about matchmaking. It starts in a very practical way with meeting each other – for example at the Digital Tech Summit – so that some trust is built up. We hope both that some research can come out of it, but also some new business ideas,” says Thomas Riisgaard Hansen.

Quantum technology is just one example. The new technology cuts across digital specialists as well as physics and chemistry. That’s why researchers need to be brought together, and DIREC is doing this by financially supporting more than 35 projects that strengthen collaboration across universities.

World champions meet

Knowledge is increasingly the foundation for new solutions and new businesses. That’s why strengthening bridges between universities and industry is crucial to our international success.

“We’re up against fierce international competition, and in Denmark we just don’t have the same resources to throw at areas like American or Chinese universities, and so what do we do? Our suggestion is to say that if we are small and want to compete with the big ones, we have to be better at collaborating than they are,” says Thomas Riisgaard Hansen.

At the same time, DIREC is strengthening the start-up sector – for example with a course for young researchers to equip them for the entrepreneurial movement.


Digital Research Centre Denmark (DIREC) is a Danish research centre that aims to conduct world-class digital research to ensure that Denmark is at the forefront of new digital technologies.

Get "From University to Unicorn"

…you will also be signed up for our weekly newsletter with the latest news and stories from the Danish startup-ecosystem!

Vi spammer ikke, og du kan altid afmelde dig igen!
Læs vores privatlivspolitik hvis du vil vide mere.