Overview of instruments

Sapere Aude: DFF-Starting Grant

In order to promote the education of researchers and strengthen internationalisation, DFF offers the Sapere Aude (i.e. “dare to know”) instrument. The objective of the initiative is to develop the qualifications and competencies of the best research talents, both nationally and internationally. Sapere Aude: DFF-Starting Grant is aimed at Danish as well as non-Danish researchers. You can apply for a Sapere Aude: DFF-Starting Grant of up to 4 years’ duration and a maximum amount of DKK 4.3 million, excluding overhead. 

Sapere Aude: DFF-Starting Grant is aimed at providing excellent younger researchers, i.e. researchers who have carried out top class research in their field, with the opportunity to develop and strengthen their research ideas. The instrument also aims at promoting the mobility internationally as well as nationally among research environments, and thereby to strengthen networks and careers. Sapere Aude: DFF-Starting Grants are targeted at top researchers who intend to gather a group of researchers and/or research students, to carry out a research project at a high, international level. Sapere Aude: DFF-Starting Grant also strengthens the possibility for excellent younger researchers to return to a Danish research institution after a research stay abroad.

The Independent Research Fund Denmark expects that a Sapere Aude: DFF-Starting Grant prepares the grant recipient to apply for an ERC
Starting Grant, Consolidator Grant or Advanced Grant, or a similar international programme.

DFF-Research Project 1 and 2 

Independent Research Fund Denmark offers two types of research projects named IRFD-Research Project1 and 2.

DFF-Research project1

To advance the quality of Danish research, DFF offers funding for research projects within an economic framework of up to DKK 2 million, excluding overhead. A DFF-Research Project1 is characterised by having a clear and well defined research question, where the research activities are expected to be of a high, international level of quality. The duration of a DFF-Research Project1 is typically 3 years, but it is possible to apply for a 4-year project if a PhD student is involved in the project.

The applicant must be able to document independent research experience typically corresponding to 3 years or more after having obtained a PhD degree (or similar qualifications). The applicant’s previous results will be assessed in relation to his/her career, and in relation to the scientific challenges of the project applied for. If the applicant is not an associate professor and has not been awarded a positive associate professor assessment (“lektorbedømmelse”) and the project involves the education of researchers, it must be stated in the application how the relevant supervision will be provided, and how the scientific connection of the research students to the project will be ensured.

DFF- Research project2

To advance the quality of, and develop collaboration within, Danish research, DFF offers funding for research projects carried out by multiple researchers (including postdoctoral candidates and PhD students) of up to 4.5 years in duration within a budget framework of DKK 2 million to DKK 4.3 million, excluding overhead. A DFF-Research Project2 is often characterised by a coordinated and mutually binding collaboration featuring a well-defined, joint research question. However, it may also be a project formulated by a single researcher, but which is to be carried out in a research team, when it can be argued that the project is particularly ambitious and resource demanding, and that the research objective cannot be obtained through a DFF-Research Project1. The research activities must have the potential to create synergy among any sub-projects, involve an international level of collaboration (if relevant) and be of a high, international standard.

The applicant must be able to document independent research experience at a high, international level typically corresponding to 5 years or more after having obtained a PhD degree (or similar qualifications).The applicant’s previous results will be assessed in relation to his/her career, and in relation to the scientific challenges of the project applied for. If the applicant is not an associate professor and has not been awarded a positive associate professor assessment (“lektorbedømmelse”) and the project involves education of researchers, it must be stated in the application how the relevant supervision will be provided, and how the scientific connection of the research students to the project will be ensured. 

DFF-Research Project 1 and 2 (Thematic Research)

Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF) will grant funding for thematic research in the following areas:
Digital technologies (AI etc.) (RESEARCH2025)
People and society (RESEARCH2025)
The thematic research specifically aims at contributing to solving important societal challenges.
Research in the two areas, which DFF will grant funding to can in a broad sense contribute to creating short or long term value in society and aims at supporting the public sector’s opportunities to effectively create a better framework for people and society, as well as developing generic knowledge and talent base within digital technologies, which are crucial in underpinning and expanding Denmark’s position as a digital pioneer country.

DFF-International Postdoctoral Grant

The objective of DFF-International Postdoctoral Grant is to strengthen the international mobility of young talented researchers, as well as to develop the competencies of researchers who are in the beginning of their research career. The aim is to enable the grant recipient to consolidate his or her individual research profile by managing a specific research project in an independent manner at a research institution outside of Denmark. The grant amounts to a total of DKK 1.3 million over a 2-year period.

Council specific criteria
DFF │Natural Sciences
requires that you spend the entire two-year grant period abroad.
DFF | Social Sciences requires that you spend at least 18 consecutive months abroad. Six months may be spent consecutively at a Danish research institution, either at the beginning or by the end of the project period.
DFF | Technology and Production Sciences, DFF | Medical Sciences, and DFF | Humanities require that you spend at least 12 consecutive months abroad. 6 months may be spent at the beginning and/or up to 12 months by the end of project period at a Danish research institution.

Applicant requirements

Researchers who have a PhD or are expected to submit their thesis for defence within 6 months after the application deadline, or have obtained equivalent qualifications (e.g. a positive assistant professor assessment (”adjunktbedømmelse”) may apply for a DFF-International Postdoctoral Grant. Your PhD must have been received from a Danish research institution.

As PhD student you may apply, provided you attach a declaration from your supervisor stating that your thesis will be submitted within 6 months of the application deadline. If you are awarded a DFF-International Postdoctoral Grant, but subsequently fail to submit your PhD thesis within the given deadline, the grant will be annulled. Please note that your PhD diploma must be submitted to DFF before the first instalment can be made.

DFF emphasises that applicants are at the beginning of their research career. Thus, calculated from the application deadline, no more than 3 years must have elapsed since you obtained your PhD. The precise date for obtaining the PhD, as it appears on the PhD-diploma, is to be stated in the application form in e-grant concerning calculation of the PhD age with regard to maternity leave, etc.).

The application must be completed and submitted by yourself as the applicant. 

You cannot apply for a grant to stay at a foreign research institution, if you are already staying at this institution at the time of application, and has been there for a year or more. 

Non-university Research Education (PhD)

DFF receives funds under the Danish National Budget, which are earmarked for the education of researchers at public non-university research institutions. In 2020, these funds amount to approximately DKK 21 million, corresponding to 8-9 grants. Maximum amount per grant will be DKK 1.8 million, excluding overhead. Please note that DFF does not generally offer support for individual PhD scholar-ships. Therefore you cannot apply for an individual PhD grant to be carried out at a university.

The purpose of the PhD grants under this call is to strengthen the education of researchers at public, Danish, non-university research institutions. The instrument covers non-university research institutions, sector research institutions, university colleges, business academies as well as state archives, libraries and museums. It does not cover state approved museums, Advanced Technology Group (GTS) institutes, hospitals, and others. 

You may apply for a PhD grant if you have a Master’s degree as well as confirmation from an institution covered by this instrument stating that it will be willing to host your project, if you are awarded a grant. Each institution may issue a maximum of 3 letters of confirmation to applicants applying for this instrument. The institution’s acceptance to host a project is given by signing the budget confirmation, which should be attached to the application as an appendix. It is up to the individual institution to decide which three candidates it wishes to give its consent to hosting.

If the hosting institution does not award PhD degrees independently, you must be enrolled at a Danish institution with an accredited PhD programme and be affiliated to such a PhD programme at the institution in question. Grants are awarded on the condition you become enrolled in a PhD programme, and that a collaboration agreement is drawn up between you as applicant, the hosting institution and the degree-awarding institution. The collaboration agreement should not be included in the application but submitted if a grant is awarded for the information of DFF. Your principal PhD supervisor must be a recognised researcher employed at the degree-awarding institution at which you will be enrolled. Only the hosting institution can function as grant administrator – also when the PhD course will take place at a university or another accredited degree-awarding institution. Prior to submitting the application, applicants must have facilitated a contact between the degree-awarding institution and the institution hosting the project.

Research networks | Humanities

This instrument is offered only by DFF | Humanities. The purpose of Research Networks | Humanities is to strengthen the broad base of cooperation among research areas which are spread out geographically and institutionally, both in Denmark and abroad.

The network is expected to cooperate on defined research themes and challenges. In assessing applications, emphasis is placed on the originality of the concept and the network’s expected contribution to scientific development. Funding is only offered to the establishment of new research networks. The maximum amount awarded to research networks is DKK 850,000, excluding overhead, and for a maximum duration of 3 years.

You, as the applicant, must be of at least associate professor/senior researcher level. The leadership of the network may be shared by several parties, but one of the applicants must be appointed project leader in advance, and thus have responsibility for the grant towards DFF | Humanities.

Journals | Humanities

This instrument is offered only by DFF | Humanities. In order to support the dissemination of humanistic research through digital scientific journals, DFF | Humanities offers funding to established as well as new journals of a high scientific value, which strive for an international level of circulation. However, the council does take into account that certain areas of humanistic research will primarily be targeted at a Danish readership. Grants for journals are awarded as a deficit guarantee.

As the applicant, you must be editor-in-chief of the journal and have associate professor/senior researcher level qualifications as a minimum. It is a further requirement that the editorial board or committee must be comprised of active researchers from at least two different academic institutions in Denmark.

In order to be eligible for support from DFF | Humanities, the journal must use external peer review to assess the scientific quality of articles submitted to the journal. In order to be awarded funding for an established journal, the journal must have a reasonable circulation within the relevant field of science. The dissemination, extent and scientific weight of the journal are the most important assessment criteria. Only journals that accompany all their articles with an abstract written in an international language (i.e.English, German, French or Spanish will be considered). Furthermore, funding can only be offered to journals that do not offer author fees. The council does not support popularised science journals.

International Research Stays | Social Sciences

This instrument is offered only by DFF | Social Sciences. In order to promote the internationalisation of social sciences research, DFF | Social Sciences provides funding for research stays at foreign research institutions for consecutive periods of at least 3 months. The research stay should be based on specific research activities within the field of social sciences and contribute to those activities through strengthened international collaboration or networks and collection of data.

You may apply for an amount of up to DKK 300,000 excluding overhead, but you cannot apply for funding for scientific/academic salaries.

The application must be submitted by the researcher taking part in the proposed research stay. You must have obtained a PhD degree or achieved equivalent qualifications through your research. You must be employed at a research institution in Denmark.

Clinician scientist positions | Medical Sciences

This instrument is offered only by DFF | Medical Sciences. DFF | Medical Sciences can fund workload reductions for clinician scientist positions, so that up to 6 months per year during a maximum of 3 years are dedicated to carrying out a research project, while the remaining time is spent in a clinical position remunerated by the employing institution.

The application must be submitted by the person, who wishes to be awarded the clinician scientist position. 

Funding is primarily awarded to medical doctors, dentists and veterinarians who, at the time of the application deadline, have obtained a PhD degree or equivalent qualifications through their research.

At the time of employment, applicants must be employed in a clinical position with no possibility of carrying out research during working hours. Please note that the council prioritises applications where the applicant’s clinical position involves patient treatment.

The research activity does not necessarily have to be carried out in the employing clinical department, but the council requires the grant to be administered by the institution at which the clinical work takes place.

Pre-graduate scholarships | Medical Sciences

This instrument is offered only by DFF | Medical Sciences. DFF | Medical Sciences funds pre-graduate scholarships for a duration of 6-12 months for the purpose of giving highly qualified students the opportunity to undertake scientific work and strengthening their interest in a further scientific career. A fixed amount of DKK 100,000 (excluding overhead/administration expenses) can be awarded. 

It is a requirement that the student completes a research project of 2 semesters duration, where it is expected that the student is on leave or in an education-free semester, where research is the main content. If exceptional circumstances do not allow for the student to take leave for a semester, this must be explained in the application.

Applications for Pre-graduate Scholarships | Medical Sciences must be submitted by the student’s academic supervisor. As a supervisor, you must have obtained a PhD degree or achieved equivalent qualifications through your research. The council emphasises that you have experience as a supervisor as well as an individual research profile. 

The council strives to distribute the Pre-graduate Scholarship grants among different research environments, so as to provide recruitment to a wide range of health sciences. Therefore, the council will only fund one Pre-graduate Scholarship per supervisor at a time, so that there is no overlap between multiple students under the same supervisor during the part of the grant period funded by the council.

Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW)

In 2015, DFF entered into an agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF), USA, concerning the research programme Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW). The GROW programme acts as a supplementary grant for NSF’s research education programme Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which leads to a research based Master’s degree or PhD. NSF covers social sciences, natural and life sciences, and engineering.

Researchers who have been awarded funding from one of the following instruments: Sapere Aude: DFF-Starting Grant, Sapere Aude: Advanced Grant or DFF-Research Project1 or 2, may obtain supplementary funding from DFF to host a Master’s or PhD research fellow for a short-term duration of 2-12 months. The research fellow must be attached to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The supplementary grant must contribute to the research fellow’s participation in international research collaboration as well as to the internationalisation of Danish research.

The DFF-funded project which the GROW-fellow is to participate in, must be active during the entire period of the planned research stay. DFF offers the GROW-fellow a grant of DKK 24,300 a month excluding overhead which is to cover operating and living expenses, while NSF covers travel and insurance expenses. Salary for the GROW-fellow is covered by the NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program. In this call, DFF will fund GROW-fellows for a stay with a maximum duration of 36 months.

Only NSF scholarship recipients can apply for a DFF-GROW fellowship.