4 November 2010

Strategic focus on plant science

Academic merger

The University of Copenhagen is strengthening plant sciences and gathering researchers from three faculties in one new collective Copenhagen Plant Science Center at the Faculty of Life Sciences.

Wheat fieldThe University of Copenhagen Board has on recommendation from the Rector's Office decided to consolidate all plant science at the University, which is currently situated in six departments at three different faculties. The decision is amongst other things based upon analytical work conducted by the plant scientists themselves, pointing towards obvious advantages of increased collaboration in the field.

"Plant science has a strategically important growth potential in areas such as energy, food and new medicine. By gathering all of the University's plant science in one collective and strong Copenhagen Plant Science Center at the Faculty of Life Sciences, we are able to better connect basic research and applied research. Our experience tells us that these two sides can benefit from each other, and that exciting results can be gained from the grey area between the two kinds of research," says University of Copenhagen Prorector Thomas Bjørnholm.

Center ensures prime competition

University management will allocate one or two so-called lighthouse grants towards strategic work in the field of plant science, worth seven million kroner a year for a period of five years. Furthermore, there has already been set aside 200 million kroner for building and renovating the new center, which will be located on Frederiksberg. The building will be ready in 2015, but the plant scientists will most likely be gathered organisationally within the next year.
"With the new plant science center, we are focusing our basic funds strategically, in order to get the most prime conditions for marking ourselves strongly in such an internationally competitive area," says Thomas Bjørnholm.

Academic profits from university merger

When the Danish universities underwent a larger merging process in 2007, the main idea was to prepare Danish research for the increased international competition. The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University and the Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences merged with the University of Copenhagen, and thus became the Faculty of Life Sciences and the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences respectively. Since then, the University has worked towards reaping the academic rewards from the merger.

The academically related faculties have worked at surveying what they have in common, and how they can promote synergy between research and education across faculty borders. The latest result from this analytical work is a report that describes the possibilities for future collaboration in areas such as chemistry and plant science.

"We will work towards gathering research across the faculties. Plant science is an obvious area to focus on because our own analytical work clearly shows us the advantages of connecting basic research and commercial research," Thomas Bjørnholm explains.

However, there are more areas of research that would benefit from collaboration, Bjørnholm states, referring to the University Board's recent decision to evaluate the chemistry area, where an overlap between the faculties' research also exists. Therefore, an international panel of experts has been appointed to analyse the field for the purposes of strengthening the basic research and the applied chemistry.


Director of Communications Jasper Steen Winkel
Phone: +45 28 75 42 62
Email: jsw@adm.ku.dk