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New National Centre for Research in Digital Technologies

The aim of the new National Centre for Research in Digital Technologies – DIREC – is to expand the capacity within research and education in Denmark

The centre is a unique alliance between seven Danish universities and the Alexandra Institute in the field of digital technologies.

Meets the lack of IT specialists

As the primary sponsor, Innovation Fund Denmark launches an exciting new and broad-based partnership: DIREC. Over the next five years, the centre will expand the capacity within research and education in digital technologies at Danish universities and help to meet the great demand for highly educated IT specialists in companies and the public sector. DIREC will also, through collaborations with companies and the public sector, contribute to Denmark’s competitiveness by ensuring the development of new products and solutions based on the latest digital technologies.

Digital technologies are among the strongest drivers of growth and welfare in society and industry, and during the COVID-19 crisis we have seen digital technologies be absolutely crucial to the success of keeping large sections of society running despite an almost total lockdown. And digital technologies will be absolutely central if we are to achieve the goal of green transition. It is therefore crucial for Danish industry and the public sector that Denmark continues to have access to highly qualified IT specialists and knowledge of digital technologies.

Denmark is at the forefront of a number of ‘classical’ IT technologies, but there is a shortage of specialists. It is therefore necessary to strengthen efforts to ensure that Denmark remains at the forefront and not least in relation to new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and Internet of Things. Thus Folketinget (the Danish Parliament) has decided to invest in a strong capacity building in the field of digital technologies, including the establishment of a national centre for research and education.

The vision of DIREC is to be an international flagship centre for computer science and be able to match the most renowned CS departments in Europe and the United States and thus attract the best researchers.

Value-creating and trust-building technology

The centre’s activities will be based on societal needs, continuously translating research into value-creating solutions and digital transformation in industry and the public sector. When relevant, the research will include ethical and moral aspects of the new technological development and the use of artificial intelligence and big data in a Danish context to ensure trustworthy technologies for the citizens.

The consortium behind DIREC

DIREC is a unique collaboration across seven universities in Denmark, and the consortium behind DIREC consists of the computer science departments at the Technical University of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School, IT University of Copenhagen, University of Southern Denmark, Aarhus University and Aalborg University, which all have world-class research groups. Also participating is the Alexandra Institute, which is one of the Danish government-approved Research and Technology Organisations (GTS), whose mission is to translate new IT research and technology into value in the form of new innovative products and services at Danish companies and the public sector.

DIREC is chaired by a board of directors consisting of:

  1. Jens Christian Godskesen, Pro-rector, IT University of Copenhagen, Chairman
  2. Michael Holm, Founder and CEO, Systematic, Vice chairman
  3. Natasha Friis Saxberg, CEO, Danish ICT Industry Association
  4. Thomas Asger Hansen, Head of Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, Grundfos
  5. Rikke Hovgaard Zeberg, Director, Danish Agency for Digitisation
  6. Mads Nielsen, Head of Department, Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen
  7. Kasper Hallenborg, Head of Department, Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller Institute, University of Southern Denmark
  8. Kaj Grønbæk, Head of Department, Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University

The following persons have observer status on the board:

  1. Per B. Brockhoff, Head of Department, DTU Compute
  2. Helle Zinner Henriksen, Head of Department, Department of Digitization, Copenhagen Business School
  3. Jesper Kjeldskov, Head of Department, Department of Computer Science, Aalborg University
  4. Børge Lindberg/Michael Hansen, observers, Innovation Fund Denmark

DIREC’s Board of Directors has appointed Thomas Riisgaard Hansen as Director with effect from 1 January 2021. Thomas holds a PhD in Computer Science from Aarhus University and has been a visiting researcher at UC Berkeley in California. Throughout his career, Thomas Riisgaard Hansen has worked with research and development, both as a researcher and as a business leader. He has been very active in the entrepreneurial environment and is, among other things, one of the founders of the IT company Cetrea, which develops advanced IT solutions for hospitals.

Ole Lehrmann Madsen, acting director of DIREC, ambassador, the Alexandra Institute, tel.: + 45 20 15 44 51, e-mail:

Jens Christian Godskesen, Chairman of the Board of DIREC, Vice-Chancellor, IT University, tel.: +45 51 17 09 15, e-mail:

Børge Lindberg, Innovation Fund Denmark, +45 61 90 50 12, e-mail:

Michael Hansen, Innovation Fund Denmark, +45 61 90 50 37, e-mail: