Unorthodox research ideas awarded DKK 15.1 million

The VILLUM Experiment has been awarded for the first time to a number of researchers at Danish universities. Eight researchers at Science and Technology have received a total of DKK 15.1 million – earmarked for bold and radical research ideas.

2017.06.19 | Rasmus Rørbæk

(Photo: Colourbox)

Tunable photonic materials, quantum nature of proteins, the oil degradation capacity of microbes in pristine Arctic environments. These are just some of the unorthodox ideas that now have a chance to be explored. A total of nine Aarhus University researchers, including eight from Science and Technology, have been awarded between DKK 1.5 and 2 million in a new programme from the VILLUM FOUNDATION called the VILLUM Experiment. In this experiment, selection is based on the idea alone, whereas the foundation’s other operations in this area focus on the person first and the idea second.

In the words of the foundation, the programme is created in support of exceptional research ideas that challenge norms and possess the potential to fundamentally alter our approach to key topics. The assessors of the applications are asked to emphasise the ideas they perceive as real breakthroughs. Perhaps only one of ten projects will prove to create something unique.

The grants awarded will cover a research period of 1–2 years, and will mainly be used to cover personal salaries, equipment and materials. The VILLUM FOUNDATION has funded a total of 38 science and technology researchers who have each come up with their wildest idea, and the total grant amounts to DKK 70 million.

Read more about the grants, the recipients and the programme on VILLUM Experiment’s website here.


The recipients are:

  • Henrik Birkedal, Department of Chemistry, Tunable photonic materials inspired by chameleons and copepods, DKK 2 million
  • Kasper Urup Kjeldsen, Department of Bioscience, FISHing for the ancestors of the eukaryotic cell, DKK 2 million
  • Lars Henrik Andersen, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Quantum nature of retinal proteins, DKK 1.5 million
  • Leendert Vergeynst, Department of Bioscience, Exploring the oil degradation capacity of microbes in pristine Arctic environments, DKK 1.8 million
  • Richard Balog, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Solid-state QED with STM, DKK 1.8 million
  • Toke Thomas Høye, Department of Bioscience, Automatic Insect Detection (AID), DKK 2 million
  • Witold Kot, Department of Environmental Science, New letters to the DNA alphabet, DKK 2 million
  • Yonghui Zeng, Department of Environmental Science, Searching for Photosynthetic Archaea in Arctic Permafrost, DKK 2 million
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