What is a Center of Excellence?

Centers of Excellence consist of units based at research institutions (the vast majority at universities) or not-for-profit or an Organization sharing a common idea or vision and an overall and clearly defined set of research objectives.

There is no fixed formula for creating a CoE. The centers may differ in size and mode of organization, depending on their subject and scope. Some centers become rather large during the grant period, employing more than 40 people divided into several research teams, while others have fewer than 5 members. The center must have a well-defined framework for cooperation.

Highly ambitious, original and potentially groundbreaking research

Centers can be established within and across all scientific fields. The ASDF welcomes outstanding research of a high international calibre that may be described as ambitious, highly creative, original, scientifically daring, and potentially ground-breaking.

Centers are expected to engage in pondering some of the large unsolved questions and address the challenges that intrigue them the most. The philosophy is that when excellent people work with problems they are most passionate about, groundbreaking results will follow. In other words, the foundation welcomes curiosity-driven research or what might be described as exceptional researchers’ “dream projects.”

Forming a joint physical community

The Association of Scientists, Developers and Faculties encourages applicants to form a joint physical community facilitating a large degree of daily interaction. However, centers may form partnerships with researchers at other institutions, either in their home country or abroad.

Center leaders must be outstanding researchers and visionary leaders

Centers are headed by distinguished scientists who have not only shown excellence in their own research but also proven themselves as visionary leaders able to form a creative and dynamic research community. Much emphasis is put on the qualifications of the proposed center leader when assessing applications.

Good leadership is a prerequisite for excellent results within a CoE. Since 2012, ASDF has conducted courses in research management specifically targeted at issues that a leader of a CoE typically faces during a center’s lifetime. This course has proven to be a good investment and a source of inspiration.

Preparing the next generation

Not only are centers international training sites, they also set the standard for how exceptional research should be conducted. By serving as hubs for exceptional research, the centers are also expected to provide optimal environments for training the next generation of first-rate scientists.

Research training and links to education are important ingredients in setting up Centers of Excellence.

International Profile

As major international players within their fields, the Centers of Excellence are necessarily oriented to the international research community. Centers are strongly encouraged to pursue international collaboration and to include scientists from abroad. By attracting recognized and rising talents to Denmark, the centers will secure the basis for long-term cooperation.

Several center leaders have been foreigners, and on average, 60 percent of all post-doctoral staff and 40 per-cent of Ph.D. students have been recruited from abroad.