1. September 2021

DNRF publication highlights research’s usefulness to society from a new perspective

Does society benefit when its country’s smartest citizens spend many years, and often a lot of money, going down new roads in search of understanding how the world is organized down to the smallest detail? Since 1991, the Danish National Research Foundation has supported research that, in the long run, has played a central role in meeting many of the challenges facing society. But what about the usefulness of research to society in the short term? In a new publication, the Danish National Research Foundation highlights several positive aspects of current research, aspects that don’t get much attention but are possible to observe.

The publication “Curiosity Benefits Society” in the printed (Danish) version.
The publication “Curiosity Benefits Society” in the printed (Danish) version. Photo: Argiro Hay Baltzis

What happens when you take a closer look at the research that affects society, but isn’t in the public eye? The Danish National Research Foundation has tried to do exactly that with its new publication “Curiosity Benefits Society,” which is being launched today. With this publication, the foundation wishes to highlight how curiosity-driven research also affects society here and now, and not just in the long run, even though the research is more or less not seen. It is not about how research targets patents, products, growth, and industry, but about enriching society through a number of activities that few ascribe to researchers.

“At the Danish National Research Foundation, we are very impressed with the large and very diverse engagement shown by researchers that is directly useful to society, and we are very proud to highlight examples of this engagement in this publication,” said Søren-Peter Olesen, CEO of the Danish National Research Foundation.

The main idea behind the publication is that usefulness to society has many facets, and it is seldom that the breakthroughs society needs will happen without first building a foundation. And this foundation consists of a wide number of different research areas that you wouldn’t often think of if you focus only on the big headlines and big results.

Therefore, it is important to highlight those research activities that are a part of creating this foundation, activities that, in turn, might lead to indispensable new knowledge and technological breakthroughs, for example, creating a network of the smartest people in the world. In “Curiosity Benefits Society,” we talk about these activities by focusing on these six research areas:


  • Health care, where we have talked to several centers that have contributed to better diagnostics, improved therapy, new medicine, and counseling.
  • Green transition, where we have talked to some of the centers that work with new technologies to reduce energy consumption and catalytic processes that are essential to storing energy without major energy losses.
  • Counseling both Danish and international institutions. The centers’ leading employees mediate research knowledge to both Danish and large international institutions and governments, counseling that may form the basis for political and financial decisions.
  • Cultural heritage, including the Danish museums that, these days, are constantly pursuing new ways to disseminate information about the latest research. In this instance, several centers contribute to mutually beneficial collaborations.
  • The second quantum revolution. Quantum-based technologies could revolutionize society, and several Danish research institutions are currently working on this challenge.
  • New innovative companies, where we talk to researchers who seek new paths and are often good at both creating research breakthroughs and finding immediate uses for their discoveries. Therefore, several companies have arisen from the discoveries made by basic research centers.


You can read the whole publication “Curiosity Benefits Society” here

Read more about the publication at Science Report here

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