Monday, October 06, 2008

New Centre of Excellence in Denmark

I recently learnt about the existence of a new centre of excellence in Denmark, the MT-Lab, devoted to topics close to my research area. The centre will officially open its activities in the second half of November.

Anna and I know basically all the consortium members very well, and it would take another post to describe our connections with several of them. These scientists are at the forefront of their research areas in computer science and control theory, and have been collecting centre-of-excellence funding from Danish governmental funding bodies before and on a regular basis. I have no doubt that the MT-Lab will become one of the most successful research centres in the world in its fields of expertise, and I am looking forward to monitoring its progress. Congratulations to the consortium members for the establishment of the centre!

A very interesting aspect of this centre of excellence is that this time around the 25 million DKK funding it (roughly € 3.35 million) are being provided by a private foundation, The Villum Kann Rasmussen Foundation. (See also this page to find out what other things they fund.)The existence of such foundations is one of the (many) strengths in the Danish funding for basic research, and I do not find it at all surprising that Denmark is home to a good collection of centres of excellence with very good international visibility and impact. With centres of this calibre, it is easy for Denmark to attract top-class scientists from abroad and to entice them to relocate to a country with good resources, a top-class welfare state and an excellent quality of life overall. (Yes, one pays very high taxes in Denmark, but, at times like the ones we are living, the sense of security that a well-oiled welfare state gives one becomes even more important than ever before.)

The Danish model for research funding has also inspired recent developments in the funding schemes available at European level. Let's see how much of this will survive the present turmoil on the financial markets.

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