Marine Biotechnology in Denmark

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UPDATED August 2016

Overarching science strategies, plans and policies

  • National Whitepaper: “Research2020” description of the focus areas for strategic research. The paper was published in May 2013.[1]

Research funding schemes and programmes

  • Innovation Fund Denmark (IFD) was established 1 April 2014 by a merger between the Danish Council for Strategic Research (DSF), the Danish Council for Technology and Innovation (RTI) and the Advanced Technology Foundation (Højteknologifonden). During 2014 the programmes operated by the three units were concluded, and as of 1 January 2015 a complete reorganisation is being instituted. After the reorganisation IFD offers support for three different project categories:
  • Talents: For undergraduates, recent graduates or postgraduate researchers aiming to become entrepreneurs or to secure a research career in the private sector.
  • InnoBooster: For small enterprises and entrepreneurs with sound development plans.
  • Large scale projects: For substantial investments and long-term projects/partnerships where the focus is on research, technology, experimental development and market development.
  • - In 2015 the Innovation Fund Denmark will invest just under DKK 1.6 bn in new initiatives to create growth and employment in Denmark.
  • The Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF) funds specific research activities, within all scientific areas, that are based on the researchers' own initiatives and that improve the quality and internationalisation of Danish research. The Danish Council for Independent Research is comprised of a Board of Directors and five scientific research councils of which the following are relevant:
  • Natural Sciences (FNU) covers all aspects of research geared towards basic scientific issues within the natural sciences, computer science and mathematics.
  • Technology and Production Sciences (FTP) covers (among several others) these scientific fields: biotechnology, food sciences and use of natural resources.
  • The Market Development Fund (Markedsmodningsfonden) is allocating DKK 405M for market maturation of novel and innovative products. Companies can apply for co-financing of testing and adaption of their products under reality-like conditions or co-financing of guarantees for the end-user to mitigate the buyer’s uncertainty about investing in novel technology.
  • The Danish Growth Fund (Vækstfonden) is a state investment fund, which aims to create new growth companies by providing venture capital and competence.

Private funding mechanisms

  • The Novo Nordisk Foundation awards grants mainly for medical research but also considerable contributions to other scientific, humanitarian and social causes.
  • The Carlsberg Foundation provides support for basic scientific research in (among others) natural sciences.
  • The Villum Foundation supports research activities in the natural and technical sciences. Grants are made for pioneering research, but the Foundation also supports the dissemination of scientific and technical research.

Research priorities for marine biotechnology

In 2010 the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries published a report entitled ‘Havet – en uudnyttet resource’ (The Sea – an unexploited resource). It was a knowledge synthesis on Danish opportunities in marine biotechnology and other exploitation of the marine resources. The report identified six themes where focused, interdisciplinary research and development efforts are likely to generate significant economic results within shorter and longer perspectives:

  • Use of marine biomass (beyond traditional fisheries)
  • Cultivation of commodities in and from the sea
  • Health-promoting ingredients
  • Discovery of new substances, materials and biological activities and principles
  • Extraction of valuable biochemical substances
  • Biofilms

Infrastructures and coordination and support capacities / initiatives

  • The Danish Centre for Marine Research [2] is initiated by the Danish academic community. The overall aims of the centre are:
  • Administration of the funds to cover chartering of research ships
  • Coordinate and facilitate rental of research equipment between institutions
  • Facilitate international charter contracts of research vessels
  • The Scandinavian Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (SCCAP) [3] at the University of Copenhagen contains in particular marine nanoplankton flagellates, benthic marine brown and green algae, and a growing number of dinoflagellates. The SCCAP presently comprises more than 900 strains (c. 265 genera and 460 species) with representatives from most algal divisions. Nearly 700 are available to the public.
  • The Seaweed Network in Denmark (SND) promote the production, application, communication and knowledge of seaweed, and also strengthen the national collaboration. SND consist of more than 200 members from industry, universities, authorities within the research, projects and product development range within the areas of utilization of the entire seaweed as food or feed, the biochemicals as nutraceuticals or other food (and feed) ingredients and residuals bioenergetically purposes as well as cultivation and breeding of seaweed.
  • In 2012, Denmark operates 2 local/coastal vessels of 15m and 15.48m; 1 global of 78.43m and 1 oceanic vessel of 56.6m registered at the European Research Vessels Infobase [4]
  • Key aquaculture experimental and research facilities in Denmark include
  • Experimental facilities at DTU Aqua
  • Experimental facility at SINTEF

Major initiatives

None presently

Major observations, trends and future prospects

  • Denmark has a long tradition for exploiting resources from the aquatic environment, which is reflected in ongoing research at universities and research institutes, and production in Danish industry. Research groups focusing on marine biotechnology are located at six universities and two technological research institutes.
  • Among major industries having interest in marine biotechnology should be mentioned Novozymes, which are searching for new enzymes and exploitation of biological application of enzymes in the marine area. Further, several companies are producing ingredients from marine raw materials, of which could be mentioned CP Kelco, Danisco and Chr. Hansen. Within the pharmaceutical areas companies such as LeoPharma and GEA has expressed interest in products from the marine area. The company Hempel is a major producer of ship paints, and as such has a pronounced interest in understanding how biofilms are formed and how growth of organisms on submerged surfaces can be prevented.
  • The association DanskBiotek [5] works for common interest of the biotechnology interests in Denmark.
  • The Danish research councils have previously supported research in marine biotechnology with funds for operating a marine biotechnology research centre. Presently research support is given to individual projects applied for in completion with other projects in the biological, biochemical or technical areas. The Innovation Fund Denmark is participating in ERA-NET MarineBiotech and has granted EUR 1 M for the first call.



This country profile is based on available online information sources and contributions from various country experts and stakeholders. It does not claim to be complete or final, but should be considered as a dynamic and living information resource that will be elaborated, updated and improved as more information becomes available, including further inputs from experts and stakeholders. The information on this page is based on information initially compiled by the CSA MarineBiotech Project (2011-2013) and updated by the Marine Biotechnology ERA-NET (2013-2017).