The Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF) was established in 1991 with a start-up capital of 2 billion DKK. Since then, the foundation received a 3 billion DKK capital injection from the government in 2009 and an additional 3 billion DKK in 2015. In 2019, the foundation also received 177.4 million DKK, with the purpose of establishing a few special research centers, the so-called Pioneer Centers, in collaboration with private foundations.
Both the capital and the return will be used to finance excellent research at an international level. The current capital is expected to support activities until the end of 2036. The Center of Excellence funding instrument can run up to ten years (6 years + 4 years), which means that most of the capital will be disposed of in 2026, ten years before the foundation’s expected expiration in 2036.
The capital is invested across different asset classes and countries. When investing, the foundation strives to ensure safety, maintenance of the capital’s real value, as well as the best possible return. The current strategic asset allocation constitutes 62.5% to various bonds and 37.5% to global equities.
The foundation’s strategic asset allocation
The foundation is subject to several placement rules, including a requirement to use external portfolio managers, per Executive Order No. 325 of March 29, 2016, for the financial management of Danish National Research Foundation funds. The foundation uses EU tenders when searching for new external portfolio managers.
The foundation’s risk management is built on a combination of a calculation of the portfolio’s risk based on Monte Carlo simulations (Conditional Value at Risk – CVaR), as well as on the portfolio’s return under different historical scenarios that have played out in the real world. The portfolio’s risk is compared with the foundation’s capital.
Responsible investment policy
The Danish National Research Foundation’s responsible investment policy and the goal of acting as a responsible investor are an integral part of the foundation’s overall investment principles and strategy.
The DNRF acts as a responsible investor by investing in companies that live up to common internationally accepted principles and norms for treating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues and by not investing in companies involved in the production of controversial weapons.
When investing in government bonds, the foundation only invests in government bonds issued by countries that act in accordance with internationally recognized principles of good governance and human rights and where the country or the key individuals in the country are not subject to UN or EU financial sanctions.
The following is relevant for the foundation’s investments in equities and corporate bonds:
The guidelines are based on well-recognized principles, guidelines, conventions, and international ESG standards.
When investing, the portfolio managers of equities and credit bonds must:
- strive to live up to the United Nations Global Compact principles and/or OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
- not invest in companies that violate broadly accepted international weapons-related conventions.
- not invest in producers of nuclear weapons, who act in violation of the treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
- The ILO conventions on labor rights.
- Exclusion of companies with high extraction of thermal coal.
The individual portfolio managers may have further criteria they use when investing.
The regulatory framework states that the DNRF shall use external portfolio managers for all investments. The external portfolio managers are also responsible for the implementation of the responsible investment policy.
For cost reasons, the foundation may invest in mutual funds. It is not possible as a minority investor (such as the DNRF) in a mutual fund to determine the mutual fund’s policy for responsible investments. The consequence is that each portfolio/mandate does not have exactly the same policy for responsible investments.
When the foundation chooses a mutual fund, the portfolio manager’s/mutual fund’s policy for responsible investments is an important selection criterion in the overall assessment of the manager of the mutual fund. It is a requirement that the foundation’s portfolio managers of equities and credit bonds as a minimum live up to the DNRF’s responsible investment policy and guidelines.
The DNRF portfolio managers of equities and credit bonds screen the portfolios on a regular basis to identify companies that violate the above-mentioned principles and conventions.
On this basis and the engagement with the company, the portfolio manager decides which companies should be excluded based on the mutual fund’s responsible investment policy. Therefore, the exclusion lists may vary from portfolio to portfolio.
Engagement is part of being a responsible investor. Therefore, the foundation’s external portfolio managers:
- have a dialogue/engage with companies that do not live up to the ESG policy.
- should exercise voting rights on important issues.
The foundation’s portfolio managers engage on an ongoing basis with companies they have invested in by, for example, having a dialogue with the companies about the relevant issues. The engagement is based on each portfolio manager’s policy.
The DNRF’s goal is to have as high a share of exercising voting rights as possible. The portfolio managers monitor the items in the general meetings on an ongoing basis and use the voting rights on most of the items.
In 2018 the board decided to establish an investment committee. The committee’s job is to give the board recommendations about the investment strategy, risk management, portfolio managers, responsible investment policy, and long-term forecast for the foundation’s expected disbursements.
The members of the investment committee are:
- CIO Per Skovsted (Chair)
- Professor Peter Løchte Jørgensen
- CEO Torben Möger Pedersen
Per Skovsted (born in 1958) has a master of science (M.Sc.) in Business Administration and Organizational Communication from the Copenhagen Business School. He is chief investment officer for the Villum Foundation’s and the Velux Foundation’s asset management and investment strategy. Skovsted is also CEO of ADDEK and a member of the board of, among others, Investeringsforeningen Nordea Invest, and Commercial Real Estate Denmark P/S, Kjøbenhavns Boligejendomsselskab A/S, Stryhn Holding A/S, and Sweet Chili Entertainment ApS.
Skovsted joined the investment committee on July 1, 2020 and is the chair of the investment committee.
Peter Løchte Jørgensen (born in 1967) has a master of science (M.Sc.) in Mathematics-Economics and a Ph.D. in Finance. He is a professor of finance at the Institute of Economics at Aarhus University. Jørgensen is also chair of the board of AUFF Invest P/S, Auriga Industries A/S and Parkkollegierne A/S as well as a member of the board of AUFF Holding P/S, AUFF Komplementar ApS. P+, Pensionskassen for Akademikere, Asset Advisor Fondsmæglerselskab A/S, Asset Advisor FAIF A/S, Investeringsforeningen Selected Investments, Konsul Tømmerhandler af Horsens, Harald Blegvad Jørgensens familielegat. He is also the chair of the Carlsberg Foundation’s investment committee.
Jørgensen has been a member of the Danish National Research Foundation’s investment committee since the committee was established in April 2018 and was reappointed in 2020 for the period ending December 2022.
Torben Möger Pedersen (born in 1955) has a master of science in Economics from the University of Copenhagen and is CEO of PensionDanmark and an honorary professor at the Copenhagen Business School. He is the chair of the board of the Copenhagen Business School, the Danish Society for Education and Business as well as the Gefion Gymnasium and a member of the board of Forsikring & Pension, Bestyrelsesforeningen, Det Udenrigspolitiske Selskab, and Arbejdernes Landsbank. He is also a member of the Landsbank’s Remuneration Committee and its Risk and Revision Committee. He is the chair of the government’s Climate Partnership for the Finance sector and vice-chair of the board for the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change.
Pedersen has been a member of the DNRF’s investment committee since the committee was established in April 2018 and was reappointed in 2020 for the period ending December 2022.