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Previous projects

This page provide a short introduction the councils previous projects from 2014-

World-class knowledge (2016)

DFiR has studied the underlying factors behind the outstanding level of impact of Danish research. Since the early 1990’s, Danish research has experienced forward momentum. In this project DFiR  has looked behind the high rankings and found some of the reasons for the positive development. Based on Danish surveys and comparative studies in the Netherlands and Sweden, DFiR concludes that seven elements are necessary to strike a balance between stability and dynamics for the purpose of a healthy research system as a basis for outstanding research. These seven points are:


  1. The balance between block funding and external funding
  2. The growth layer to provide future researchers
  3. Quality and an immanent culture of quality
  4. Excellence
  5. Management and leadership
  6. Research and education
  7. Collaboration and coordination

The background report is written by the Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy, Department of Political Science, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University & Technopolis Group - represented by Faugert & Co Utvärdering AB (Technopolis Sweden) and Technopolis BV (Technopolis Netherlands) & NIFU: Nordisk institutt for studier av innovasjon, forskning og utdanning.

World-Class Innovation (2017)

DFiR’s project on innovation and especially on the publicly financed structure for improving knowledge-based innovation (the ecosystem for innovation support) in Denmark, ran from 2016-2017. The Council’s work departs from the question of how to translate more of the excellent research carried out in Denmark into innovation, new enterprises, jobs and growth. A clear answer has not emerged, but DFiR has identified six points of attention influencing the improvement of Danish innovation. The six points are:

  1. Subjects and prioritisation: International experience emphasises the importance for small countries of recognising that they have to prioritise and focus on existing strengths instead of trying to cover all subjects.
  2. Central government responsibility or division of responsibility: The overall responsibility for the innovation ecosystem is divided between a number of ministries. National and international surveys show that there are advantages to having a clear division of responsibility and tasks at national, regional and municipal levels.
  3. A system perspective – from linearity to ecosystem: The publicly funded structure for improving knowledge-based innovation is often identified as a linear process. However, this is not the case. DFiR has found that initiatives and specific instruments are rarely seen in a larger context. There is a need for a new and more holistic approach - a need to focus on challenging phases of enterprises’ life-cycles.
  4. Objectives, roles and key performance indicators (KPIs): The innovation support ecosystem has many stakeholders and instruments and each of them has different roles and KPIs. This may lead to a structure and a system focusing on internal competition rather than collaboration, although a joint effort to improve innovation in Denmark is important in order to survive in global competition. A coordinated effort is needed.
  5. Public-private collaboration and enterprises with potential for growth: More innovation may be achieved through increased public-private collaboration. During the last decade, innovation policy has focused on SMEs. As almost 95 per cent of the Danish enterprises are SMEs, the effort cannot be characterised as focused. The question is to whom the ecosystem should address its instruments in order to achieve the greatest impact.
  6. Transparency: The innovation support system does not appear transparent and easy to access – neither by those who use it, nor by those who manage it. Innovation is an objective for many stakeholders, programmes and instruments which are not established upon a holistic or systematic understanding of how the system is supposed to function as a whole (an ecosystem).

Focus on researcher’s intersectoral mobility (2017)

Partly motivated by the project “World-class knowledge”, DFiR has investigated options for and effects of intersectoral mobility among senior researchers as a means to improve innovation and collaboration between industry and universities. Surveys have shown, however, that researchers in permanent positions are less likely to be intersectorally mobile.DFiR concluded that the intersectoral mobility of established researchers affects the quality of research, education and innovation positively within a range of disciplines and fields at universities and in companies. These researchers are change agents, knowledge brokers and role models and can bridge public and private research environments by disseminating knowledge, experience and networks that are otherwise difficult to transfer between the sectors.

DFiR recommends greater managerial focus, both in industry and at universities, on the positive impact of intersectoral mobility among researchers. In addition, DFiR recommends much greater use of the existing environment for establishing positions with shared employment in industry and at universities.

The impact of hosting international research conferences

It is well known that international research conferences have a great socio-economic impact on society at large. But the question is: Are they also benefiting leading researchers’ careers or branding their institutions positively? DFiR was commissioned to answer this question by the former Minister of Higher Education and Science.

International conferences are central in the scientific environment, and an extended network is one of the main positive effects for those organising and hosting a congress. Another effect is increased formal and informal recognition in the scientific environment.

Six national and international cases have been investigated in order to disclose the positive effects of and barriers to hosting international research conferences.
The case study confirmed the expected effects of extended network and scientific recognition. The study also disclosed that the main barriers that prevent scientists and institutions from hosting international conferences are that hosting is time-consuming and that the financial, administrative and legal framework is not transparent.

  • Read the background report in English here.

Women in research (2015)

Targeted efforts are needed to ensure more women in research: Denmark has fewer female professors than a number of other countries. International experience shows that the distorted gender balance can be changed with targeted initiatives and financial incentives. This is the overall conclusion of DFiR’s report ‘An international perspective on gender – and gender equality challenges in research’.

At the request of former Minister of Higher Education and Science, Mrs Carsten Nielsen, DFiR conducted an international study of other countries’ initiatives that aim to improve the gender balance in research. The Council chose to look at Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The analyses identified three approaches to increasing the number of women in research and professorships: a) a central, national focus on the issue, b) financial incentives and c) targeted initiatives at research institutions.

Research-based knowledge in policy formation (2015)

On the basis of studies in a number of ministries in the UK, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark, DFiR has examined their practice of using research-based knowledge in policy development. The analyses identified a number of challenges for ministerial officials in terms of absorbing and applying the research-based knowledge:

Focused efforts should be made to create better conditions for enabling ministries to use research-based knowledge. Each ministry should plan a strategy, a set of goals and targets for developing and using research-based knowledge and evidence. Furthermore, a stronger incentive structure should be developed to improve the research institutions’ focus on how to meet the demands and needs of ministries and other parts of society.

last modified Jul 09, 2020