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AIAS awarded record-breaking EU grant

The Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies has been awarded an EU grant of DKK 38 million. This is the second time AIAS has brought a major EU grant home to AU. The grant supports non-targeted research, and will help AU continue to attract the world’s best researchers.

The DKK 38 million grant to AIAS at Aarhus University is not only the largest single Horizon 2020 grant awarded to AU. It is the largest grant ever awarded within the ‘Excellent Science’ pillar of Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation framework programme. Professor Morten Kyndrup, who is head of AIAS, calls the grant a boon to non-targeted basic research in Denmark.

“These funds will help ensure that AIAS – and thus AU – can continue to attract and recruit some of the world’s best researchers. This contributes to internationalisation and our high level of academic excellence,” says Kyndrup, who emphasises that AIAS also attracts top Danish researchers from abroad.

“The particularly attractive conditions we offer researchers at AIAS are also a tool to combat unfortunate brain drain,” he adds.

Second time in four years

AIAS is the first and only IAS (Institute for Advanced Study) in Denmark. The institute offers talented researchers from all fields a unique opportunity for long-term research stays which offer exceptionally good conditions for in-depth research within one’s field, while at the same time offering opportunities to develop interdisciplinary and international research networks.

The new grant will co-finance up to 77 research fellowships at AIAS over the next five years.

This is the second time in AIAS’ short history that the institute has won a major EU grant for basic research. AIAS has been awarded a total of DKK 84 million from the Horizon 2020 programme.

“The Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies has existed since 2013, so it’s impressive that they have succeeded in attracting two major EU grants at a time in which funding for basic research is under pressure. This is an admirable and important achievement with major importance for Aarhus University,” says Rector Brian Bech Nielsen.

The latest grant will help consolidate AIAS. The EU funds will finance up to half of the international fellowship programme over the next five years. 

High quality and breadth

The official objective of the EU grant programme is to help promote research careers and mobility across borders. One of the major grounds for awarding the grant to AIAS is the institute’s fully open, transparent recruitment process, which attracts many highly qualified applicants from all over the world. The thorough external assessment procedure helps ensure a very high academic standard. In addition, AIAS also offers high-quality career development services and extremely favourable conditions for conducting research and strengthening international research networks.

The multidisciplinary environment at AIAS contributes to the development of groundbreaking ideas and new perspectives. AIAS researchers often start new projects during their fellowships in collaboration either with researchers at AU’s departments and schools or with other AIAS fellows. A number of these collaborations are cross-disciplinary.

“One of AIAS’ strengths is the multiplicity of fields represented. And so I encourage all of the university’s research and teaching programmes to keep an eye out for talented researchers internationally and to encourage strong candidates to apply for an AIAS fellowship,” says Kyndrup.

All researchers with at least two years of post-doctoral experience are eligible to apply for AIAS fellowships – junior as well as senior researchers.


Facts about AIAS’ EU grant


  • The DKK 38 million EU grant was awarded under the Horizon 2020 programme for researcher mobility and training (COFUND, a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme).  
  • The grant is non-earmarked funding to support excellent basic research.
  • The grants will co-finance about 77 AIAS fellowships over a five-year period.
  • There will be five calls for applications in this period, the first of which will open in late 2017.
  • The duration of the fellowships is up to three years, and researchers with at least two years of post-doctoral research experience are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants must not have been performing their primary activity in Denmark for more than 12 months out of the three years prior to the application deadline.

Read more about the COFUND programme


About AIAS (Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies)


  • AIAS promotes research of the highest quality with a focus on independent basic research and talent development within all fields. All research projects are defined by the researchers themselves.
  • Currently has 34 fellows of 17 different nationalities (mostly from China, USA, UK, Germany and Denmark).
  • There is a roughly equal division between the natural and medical sciences and the humanities and social sciences, and between genders.
  • Fifteen per cent of current fellows are Danish researchers who have returned from abroad.
  • AIAS was established in 2013 and received its first EU grant under the 7th framework programme in 2014, a total of DKK 46 million.
  • In the period 2014-22, about half of the funding for AIAS international fellowship programme derives from EU grants.
  • AIAS is a member of the global network UBIAS (University-based Institutes for Advanced Study), which AIAS has chaired since 2016, with Morten Kyndrup serving as chairperson.  

Read more about AIAS