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.

Other universities in the top 10 for 2023 include Ghent University in Belgium (€61.9 million), Italy’s Polytechnic University of Milan (€52.9 million) and the University of Bologna (€47.1 million), the University of Vienna in Austria (€46.4 million) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology with €46.2 million.

Absence of UK universities

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.

As a result of the fallout between the UK and Europe over the Brexit-related Northern Ireland protocol, however, UK universities have received very little from the new Horizon programme over the last two years.

According to news reports citing European Commission data, the University of Oxford, which was awarded €523 million from the earlier programme, had only received €2 million up to 28 February while the University of Cambridge has received nothing.

University College London received €412 million through the earlier scheme, but only netted €4 million in the latest programme, while Imperial College London received €323 million under Horizon 2020, but saw only €641,000 in the new programme.

Meanwhile, according to recent official figures, 800 participants from Denmark are involved in 569 Horizon Europe projects, with every eighth Horizon Europe project enjoying participation from Denmark.

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