11 December 2019

University of Copenhagen matches Oxford and Cambridge

European milestone

The EU framework programme for research has so far invested just under DKK 2 billion in research at the University of Copenhagen. This is thanks to talented researchers and hard work, according to the Rector.

The University of Copenhagen has reached its research project number 500 funded by Horizon 2020, the EU framework programme for research. Only Oxford and Cambridge have made it to the same milestone. In total, the grants for the many research projects have channelled more than EUR 260 million in research funding to UCPH, or almost DKK 2 billion, since Horizon 2020 was launched in 2014.

Number of signed Horizon 2020 projects at UCPH and total funding.

The 502 research projects cover both prestigious individual grants from the European Research Council, European collaborative projects and more than 200 two-year Marie Sklodowska Curie mobility fellowships and Innovative Training Networks (ITN) for young researchers.

From bone pains to sustainable food production

Associate Professor Anne-Marie Heegaard from the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology was among the first UCPH researchers to receive funding from Horizon 2020 for the ITN project BonePain in 2014.

- Our purpose was to bring together pain researchers and bone researchers. Bone pain has been neglected as a research area, but together we have created an interdisciplinary platform to train new researchers in this field. We have made good progress in relation to training the young researchers and in understanding bone pain, which can be caused by, for example, osteoarthritis or bone metastases in connection with cancer. However, we still have a lot of work ahead in regard to obtaining a deeper understanding of the mechanisms and to developing new types of treatment, she says.

Universities with over 500 Horizon 2020 projects

The BonePain project ended at the end of 2018, but in light of the excellent results, a BonePainII ITN project started at the beginning of 2019.

The big project Holofood has also recently been approved by the EU. The purpose of the project is to improve the efficiency of food production systems. Sustainable food products have become a global issue, and one of the many unknowns about optimising the production is how natural additives, such as prebiotics and probiotics, affect animals and the microorganisms in their bodies. The Holofood project aims to decipher the molecular and physiological processes that additives start by using a new holistic approach, in which the animal and its microorganisms are examined at the same time.

Professor Tom Gilbert is project coordinator for the HoloFood project. He says:

- To begin with, we’re focusing on optimising two food production systems that have a major impact on the world's food economy – chicken and salmon. But what our team is mostly excited about is the potential for disseminating our tools to other systems, whether it’s animal production, crops or even human health.

Rector: Success is attributable to talented researchers and a big work effort

Henrik C. Wegener, Rector of the University of Copenhagen, is delighted with the leading position in Europe:

- We are, of course, excited and proud of the success UCPH researchers have had in Horizon 2020. It’s a tremendous amount of good research that has been conducted with the funding we have received from the EU.

Top 5 of Horizon 2020 projects among Scandinavian universities

He attributes the many projects to a combination of talented researchers with original ideas and a great deal of work across the University to support the application process.

- That we’re able to maintain such a high level in the European competition for research funds says a lot about our researchers’ excellence of research quality. At the same time, it testifies to the efforts that have been made in the organisation to encourage and support researchers in the application process.

The Horizon 2020 programme is the eighth European Framework Programme for research and innovation. In January, the programme enters its final year before being replaced by the ninth framework programme, Horizon Europe.

Allocation of funds to the University’s Horizon 2020 projects