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SDU’s strategy for external research funding

The framework for research funding is changing rapidly and extensively. SDU must be equipped to seize the new opportunities and ensure that SDU’s researchers can continue to conduct high-quality research. 
group of people working together at the university
Via SDU’s strategy for external research funding, the Board intends to set a common direction and give SDU’s academic environments the best possible framework to succeed in securing more external research funding.

New framework for research funding

The new framework consists partly of significantly increased funding from private foundations and the EU, and partly of an increased quotient of grants that target specific societal challenges and missions. 

The objective of the external research funding strategy 

It has to be more attractive for SDU researchers to apply for funding that: 


Specific initiatives in the strategy


 1. Strengthens research

 2. Increases the volume of research 

3. Stimulates career development
for individual researchers. 


The focus is particularly on developing the quality and not the quantity of SDU’s application activities, and the intention is for the strengthening of external research funding to partly compensate for the fact that the University’s education income is under pressure.

Funding Strategy Graph Research Support SDU

The strategy in numbers

The ambition of the strategy is to increase the consumption of external research funding by at least 30%. This means an increase from DKK 729 million in 2020 to a minimum of DKK 948 million in 2030, corresponding to an increase of DKK 219 million.

SDU is already making headway: in 2022, the consumption of external research funding increased to DKK 849 million – an increase of 16.5%, or 14.3% in real terms.


New requirements and new initiatives for the academic environments

Going forward, the allocation of research funding will to a greater extent be centred on dialogue and collaboration with foundations and other partners, with the aim of addressing major societal problems. The new form of collaboration requires SDU to be an attractive partner with relevant skills and the capacity to realise the ambition of securing significantly more funding.

Consequently, this requires strategic initiatives that are founded in the researchers’ everyday lives, that strengthen the supporting work and take into account the different profiles and research traditions of the faculties, while at the same time strengthening the interaction with the outside world.

Four strategic focus areas

Based on input from the faculties and discussions in the collegiate bodies, four focus areas have been identified that are crucial for seizing future research funding opportunities in the best possible way and ensuring successful implementation of the strategy.

The four focus areas are aimed at researchers, research environments, management and administrative functions:

It is imperative that SDU can attract, develop and retain excellent researchers and research talent. This focus area includes identifying and developing SDU’s positions of strength, the systematisation of talent scouting and the development of talent tracks and packages tailored to elite researchers and promising talents.

It is vital that SDU’s leaders at all levels apply themselves, take responsibility and carry out the necessary prioritisations. This focus area involves bolstered collaborations with relevant private foundations, consolidated coordination and knowledge sharing across SDU and the prioritisation of time, finances and the necessary infrastructure.

It is crucial that SDU’s researchers have the most optimal framework for the application process. This focus area includes an overhaul of application procedures, support for application-writing retreats and the development of targeted academic discussion and collaboration on the quality of applications.

Strong relationships and new entry points can be invaluable, particularly for obtaining private funding. This focus area involves strengthening relationships and networks, increased representation in more councils, committees and collaborative forums, prioritising interdisciplinary collaboration and establishing elite research centres.




The strategy focuses on three funding sources to increase the procurement of funds: private foundations, EU funding and funds from the Danish National Research Foundation. This means that SDU will have a special focus on these three funding sources in the coming years, while applications targeting other foundations and funding sources will of course continue.

Further development of SDU as a strong and relevant research institution

The strategy is one of several elements in the further development of SDU as a strong and relevant research institution.

It is to be seen in the context of SDU’s overall strategy until 2030, SDU’s core values, cross-cutting policies and decentralised research strategies. Increasing external research funding can become a key means of furthering SDU’s overall strategic objective: to create value for and with society and shape the future through high quality, talented people and outstanding environments.

The strategy for external research funding was approved by SDU’s Board in June 2022 and is included as a strategic initiative in SDU’s strategy up until 2030.

Last Updated 15.12.2023