Danish universities emerge as top Horizon grant recipients

Three Danish universities – up from only one in 2018 – feature among the top 10 recipients of funding from Europe’s flagship innovation programme Horizon Europe following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, with the three institutions netting a total of €212 million (US$233 million) in grants between them.

While the top-performing university in Horizon Europe was the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands with €93.6 million received, followed by KU Leuven in Belgium with €91.8 million, Danish universities have taken spots three, four and six on the list, according to the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Research figures up to the end of February 2023.

The Danish universities include the Technical University of Denmark (€87.2 million), Aarhus University (€66.7 million) and the University of Copenhagen (€58.3 million).

In total, 479 researchers at Danish universities participated in the contracts: 135 researchers from DTU, 131 from the University of Copenhagen and 113 from Aarhus University.

The pattern marks a significant divergence from the situation in July 2018 when five UK universities were included in the top eight performers in Horizon 2020 (the predecessor to Horizon Europe), with four of them – Cambridge, Oxford, University College London and Imperial College London – taking the top four spots.

The remaining places were taken by the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), EPFL Lausanne (Switzerland), KU Leuven (Belgium) and the University of Edinburgh (UK).

Between them, the four UK universities received more than €1 billion (US$1.09 billion) out of the €32.5 billion having been distributed by that date.

Dr Vassiliki Papatsiba, a reader in social sciences education at Cardiff University, who held a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Intra-European Fellowship (EIF) at the University of Oxford and was co-investigator in an Economic and Social Research Council-funded project on “Brexit, migration and higher education”, agreed that Denmark stands to benefit from the UK’s departure from EU research programmes.

Papatsiba said while Denmark may benefit from the UK’s departure from the EU research programme, it was important to note that it wasn’t a straightforward “UK loses, Denmark gains” situation.

“Denmark’s success should be seen as part of a larger trend of increasing investment in research and innovation across Europe, as countries recognise the importance of investing in these areas to drive growth and progress,” she said.