Danes aim to boost technology research

December 14, 2001

Denmark's new Liberal-Conservative government has brought universities, research activity and research policy under one ministry of science, technology and innovation.

Universities, the research community and the business sector welcomed the move but said more funding was required if the government's aims were to be met.

The move is a reversal of last year's reorganisation that assigned education at university level to the ministry of education but left research with the ministry of research and information technology.

Prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told parliament: "The creation of the new ministryI is a clear signal that this government will make Denmark one of the leading countries in high technology."

The ministry will take over education at Denmark's 11 universities with responsibility for business colleges, researcher training and international collaboration from the ministry of education.

It will also have responsibility for technological service institutes from the now-closed ministry of commerce and industry and for the sector research institutes, which operate directly under ministries.

According to the research analysis institute at Aarhus University, Danish research is at crisis point, with public research finance falling and business research stagnating.

Soren Isaksen, chair of the national research council, said: "The council's analysis indicates that research funding has been falling over recent years."

Despite the general welcome from the business sector, Lars Jorgen Nielsen, managing director of the Danish federation of small and medium-sized enterprises, said that "putting responsibility for research and innovative effort together in one ministry could lead to too much academism".

But Kjeld Møllgaard, rector of Copenhagen University, said collecting research and business aspects in one ministry was a brilliant idea for educational areas such as biotechnology. He was more concerned about areas such as theology, archaeology and the humanities generally, which he feared would be neglected.

Professor Møllgaard also opposed the government's idea that universities should have elected, external boards of governors. He feared that this could lead to ministerial control and restrict free research.

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