The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability is an international research Center of Excellence at DTU funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation working to ensure (bio)technologies for sustainable lifestyles.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability was initially funded by The Novo Nordisk Foundation in order to strengthen Denmark's position within advanced bioprocessing and bioengineering. It was financially based upon a generous DKK 700 Million grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF) in 2011 to DTU to establish the Center.

Subsequently, NNF has granted a number of extensions. In 2015, the Center had a midterm evaluation, and in 2019, the Center went through a second review round in order to evaluate its performance and results. Based on this review, the NNF chose to grant the Center DKK 750 (€100 M) for another five-year period, running from 2021-2025. This means that the NNF has, until now, funded the Center with more than DKK 2 billion (approx. €275 M) from 2011-2025.

Since the inauguration in Hørsholm in 2011, the Center has rapidly developed from a few employees to an international research center with well-functioning infrastructures and more than 300 employees in Denmark and abroad.

In its early phases, the Center was situated in the Science Park in Hørsholm. During the summer of 2016, the Center moved to its new premises, a brand-new black and gold five-story high-rise at DTU (Building 220), Lyngby. In November 2016, HRH Prince Joachim officially inaugurated Building 220.

Today, the Center has an even stronger focus on sustainability and use of big data. It works within three main scientific application areas (link) to support sustainable lifestyles and the 12th UN Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.


Indvielse 2011 Hørsholm


In early 2011, the Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF) grants 700 Million DKK to establish The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability. A kick-off in Hørsholm later that year marks this happy event. In the picture: CEO of the NNF Birgitte Nauntofte (right), President of DTU Anders Bjarklev (mid-right) and CEO for Center for Biosustainability Bernhard Palsson (mid-left).

This introductory video from 2011 explains the vision and initial thoughts for establishing the Center.

CHO program

2012: CHO program & internationalisation

During 2012, the Center receives two further grants from The Novo Nordisk Foundation: one aiming at generating optimised CHO cell factories to produce the next generation of bio-pharmaceuticals (DKK 280 M) and one facilitating further internationalisation of the Center (DKK 131 M).

Cederhouse Hørsholm

2013: EU sponsors 4 major projects

With four big grants for the projects BacTory (Phd program), BachBerry, Biorefine-2G and ProMys, the groundwork for many exciting activities at the Center was laid in 2013. The BacTory PhD's were some of the first PhD-students at the Center.

2014: The DBTL workflow is established

In 2004, the iterative group - back then called iLoop - is formed. Its goals are to establish and optimise the design, build, test and learn (DBTL) steps of cell factory development. Today, the DBTL workflow is placed in our Biofoundry, which is a melting pot for cell biology, cell engineering and big data science.
Cornerstone ceremony

2015: Midterm evaluation & moving plans

24 April 2015, the cornerstone for our new premises B220 at DTU Lyngby Campus is laid, and, in general, everyone is busy planning for the big move into the new building. During 2015-2016, several tours to the construction site are conducted. 2015 is also the year where management concentrates on the midterm evaluation for the Novo Nordisk Foundation, 
Inauguration at DTU Biosustain


On 17 November 2016, Prince Joachim inaugurated the Center's new home: A five-storey building in black and gold, Building 220, at DTU Campus in Kgs. Lyngby. At the event, the Prince also revealed that he got good grades in Biology in primary school.

2016 is also the year, where the Center receives a DKK 90 million grant for research and development within computational biology from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The Pre-Pilot Plant


In 2017, the Center establishes a Pre-Pilot Plant for fermentation based research and scale-up with a generous grant of DKK 128 million from The Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF). The aim is to bring basic cell factory research closer to market faster. This sparks an entrepreneural spirit, leading to more spin-outs in the time to come.

That same year, the Center also receives a NNF Challenge Grant of DKK 58 million for the iimena-project, which is about discovering new antimicrobials in order to fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

In 2017, the Center also establishes its own PhD School.



In 2018, the Center has growing pains and reaches its maximum of well over 300 staff members in Denmark and abroad. This picture shows the staff picture from Annual Seminar 2018. Today, the number of staff remains somewhat the same. 

In 2018 we also receive another NNF Challenge Grant for Center for Advanced Microbiome Therapeutics as well as two major EU grants: Miami and SinFonia for the production of important natural molecules for e.g. cancer therapies and fluorinated products, respectively.

We Engineer - what we do and why

2019: Evaluation and renewal

In 2019, the Center goes through another round of evaluation by the NNF. This thorough review process luckily results in a DKK 750 million renewal grant in 2020. The video explains some of our focus areas during the next 5-year extension period from 2021-2025.