We helped develop a major application for new strategic funding for the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) at the University of Copenhagen. This resulted not only in 700 million DKK being awarded to the centre but also a strengthened collaborative culture.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF) funds several world-class research centres in the Copenhagen region. One of them, CBMR, was established in 2010 at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, with an initial grant from NNF amounting to 885 million DKK (2010-2020).

Following the 2015 mid-term evaluation of the centre and in view of the recommendations therein, the leadership underwent a change in 2017 with the appointment of Executive Director, Prof. Juleen R. Zierath and Vice Executive Director Prof. Birthe Høgh. The vision was to take stock of the centre’s achievements and devise a new strategy and strengthened collaborative research culture. To that end, during the spring of 2017, several CBMR research strategy workshops were held to invite input from all sections of the centre to prepare the organization for a new strategy.

In August 2017, we were approached by Prof. Birthe Høgh on behalf of CBMR to help develop an application for new strategic funding (2018-2023), with the final application due to be submitted to NNF in January 2018. It became clear in our discussions early on that our support would need to go beyond the mechanics of writing the application. The leadership would benefit from our facilitation of discussions to hone the vision, mission and a coherent set of strategic objectives. It would also benefit from a top-down framework for structuring the application to capture the new strategy that was formed in the preceding bottom-up process.

The challenge that CBMR faced was how to manage the different levels of specificity required in such a big application without losing sight of the big picture. Moreover, the inputs obtained from many teams in the organization – both during the bottom-up process in spring and during the drafting of the application – needed to be combined in a way that ensured a coherent narrative, internally, as well as externally.

To help address this challenge, we first held a facilitation workshop to ensure internal coherence and achieve buy-in. Then, we deployed the full range of expertise in grant support and communications to develop a set of complete, clear, coherent and compelling documents within the tight time constraints. This entailed:

  • Framing: workshops to facilitate the creation of new mission and vision statements, strategic objectives, and a framework for the application documents
  • Editorial: guidance and feedback on drafts written by CBMR staff, substantive editing, language editing
  • Creative: design, illustration (including graphs and tables based on information supplied by CBMR), layout, proofing
  • Project management: developed, presented and obtained buy-in for a project plan for CBMR to be able to gather, synthesize and produce the required material within 5 months with our help

The work was intensive and highly collaborative, both at CBMR – where many staff across the centre worked together to produce high-quality material – and between CBMR and Elevate. It resulted in two major documents: 1) a main application document, 76 pages, 2) a supplementary-information document containing appendices, 77 pages.

The application was submitted to NNF in January 2018. After peer review by an international expert panel, NNF awarded 700 million DKK (approximately 93 million EUR) in funding.

Our brief

To facilitate and support the development of a large application for new strategic funding (2018-2023)  for CBMR at the University of Copenhagen.


Prof. Birthe Høgh, Vice Executive Director coordinated CBMR’s work with us.

What we did

Facilitation workshop; editorial and creative direction and development; project management


The application was successful and resulted in 700 million DKK (approx. 93 million EUR) awarded to CBMR.

How the project was received

Working with Elevate Scientific has been highly professional, and in every way constructive in all aspects of the grant writing process. It allowed CBMR to apply a bottom-up approach to invite input from researchers across the center to develop a new strategy involving both scientific and non-scientific objectives and strategies to reach them. With Elevate Scientific’s help we were able to synthesize and articulate all this input into a coherent strategy in the application. And it helped us foster a collaborative culture where researchers come together to pursue science, communication, public engagement, and outreach through synergistic interdisciplinary projects across CBMR. Overall, the professional guidance, and editorial direction and editing provided by Elevate Scientific was very helpful. They have a unique expertise that combines broad scientific competencies with very high-level communications and strategic know-how, which enables them to tackle complex projects such as ours. We are happy to highly recommend them.

Birthe Høgh, Vice Executive Director and Juleen R. Zirath, Executive Director