21 September 2015

Shared workdays to strengthen and stimulate collaboration between researchers and businesses


The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences invites businesses to benefit from the department’s expertise and facilities, and anticipates that shared workdays will be a fertile ground for innovation and collaborative projects. Most recently, a group from Chr. Hansen Natural Colors A/S is set to move into the Department’s experimental farm facilities.

“When we provide businesses with access to our exceptional facilities and world class research environments, it propels private sector innovation, as well as the university’s own research and educational objectives, while opening up the possibility for unique collaborative opportunities,” explains the Department of Plant and Environmental Science’s Department Head, Svend Christensen.

“I think that shared workdays, including the informal conversations that occur during lunch or over coffee, stimulate new thinking and catalyse collaborative projects between businesses and department researchers and students. That’s why I’m opening up the doors to our research facilities.”

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences has bioimaging, as well as chromoatography and mass spectrometry technology platforms at its disposal on the Frederiksberg Campus. At the department’s experimental farm in Taastrup, there is a large gene bank of fruit trees and bushes, experimental fields, controlled environment chambers and greenhouses with various systems and equipment, such as the fully automated phenotyping platform, Phenolab, that can attend to and manage individual plants based upon measurements of their conditions.

Chr. Hansen moving into the experimental farm
AgroTech has already taken up residence in one area of the department’s experimental farm, and a new agreement makes way for Chr. Hansen Natural Colors A/S. The company will rent space at market price, and move a group of employees to the experimental farm, where they will then be able to access a portion of the facilities and equipment. 

“We look forward to being side-by-side with some of our already near partners in crop improvement. We expect that access to their expertise and facilities will result in even stronger collaboration, as well as new projects and results in our field. Day-to-day work in labs, experimental fields, etc. will allow both parties to be inspired by one another so as to solve problems. Ground breaking research results and exciting new commercial possibilities are often achieved in these types of environments,” says Crop Science Manager Bjarne Jørnsgård from Chr. Hansen Natural Colors A/S and adds:

“We already have successful research and development projects underway with the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, as well as other University of Copenhagen departments. Among other things, we are developing plants to produce natural colours to replace the artificial colours used in foodstuffs.”

Chr. Hansen Natural Colors A/S is currently working with the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and others to increase pigment content in, and optimize carrots for, Danish conditions so as to make the production of natural foodstuff colourants both cheaper and easier.

Read more about the carrot project here - in Danish.

Similar facilities sharing agreements, etc. exist across the University of Copenhagen, and include Chr. Hansen’s agreement with the university’s Department of Food Science. Find out more about the collaborative opportunities at the University of Copenhagen and the Faculty of Science here.