4 February 2015

New super-project to boost Copenhagen as world’s most liveable city


A diverse array of prominent community members gathered to celebrate the culmination of many years of tremendous effort and vision at the laying of the foundation stone for the Niels Bohr Building. The facility on Jagtvej will help the University of Copenhagen attract leading researchers and talented students from around the world and enhance the university’s ability to engage with the monumental challenges faced by society in areas concerning the health sciences, climate, economic growth and thereby the continued welfare and prosperity of the nation’s citizenry. The new super-project will also play a significant role in the greater Copenhagen Science City plan that is set to transform the area between the neighbourhoods of Østerbro and Nørrebro into a dynamic area of growth with over 31,000 jobs. The development will strengthen and cement Copenhagen’s reputation as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

”Niels Bohr would be delighted if he was a guest at today’s event. Not because the building is named after him, as Bohr was fundamentally a humble man. He would have rejoiced because the building reflects many of his visions having to do with science, international collaboration, interdisciplinary research, openness and proximity to the immediate society. Placing his 1950 letter to the United Nations within the future Niels Bohr Building symbolically underscores our own expectations that the peaceful activities to be carried out in the building will be approached in the spirit expressed by Niels Bohr in his letter to the UN.”

John Renner Hansen, Dean, Faculty of Science

John Renner Hansen, Dean, Faculty of Science

These words, from Faculty of Science Dean, John Renner Hansen refers to a letter to a troubled world written by Niels Bohr. It is enclosed in a time capsule, to be embedded in the new building on Copenhagen’s Jagtvej. Bohr’s letter to the UN, and subsequently to the world at large, was penned in 1950 in response to his fears that the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union would degrade into an all out, and devastating, atomic warfare. Thus, he appealed to all for the new technology to serve peaceful purposes, and for all parties to be open about their technologies.

The assembled speakers included Rasmus Helveg, the Danish Minister of Climate, Energy and Building; Frank Jensen, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen; Ralf Hemmingsen, University of Copenhagen Rector and John Renner Hansen, Dean at SCIENCE. 

Research and industry, hand in hand

The Niels Bohr Building is a core feature of Copenhagen Science City, a new area in central Copenhagen where research and business activities will collaborate to develop innovative solutions and products in the fields of pharmacology, the health sciences and the natural sciences.

“With the new Niels Bohr Building, we are taking an important step forward towards achieving the Copenhagen Science City vision. This will be a place where the research and the business communities are provided with the best conditions for making great leaps together. And we will have the opportunity to attract more international researchers, businesses and investments that generate growth and jobs – not just in Copenhagen, but throughout Denmark,” said Lord Mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen.

Niels Bohr’s open letter to the United Nations from 1950, in the time capsule to be embedded in the new building

Niels Bohr’s open letter to the United Nations from 1950, in the time capsule to be embedded in the new building

Lighthouse in a green area

Copenhagen Science City is a key initiative in the Municipality of Copenhagen’s work to create near and innovative collaborative ventures between businesses, knowledge institutions and the public sector – thus strengthening growth in the City of Copenhagen. The area, a green island to begin with, includes a newly renovated city park, ”Fælledpark” and the ‘Parken’ stadium with sporting facilities as well as a music arena.

A flexible building

The new Niels Bohr Building will house laboratory and classroom facilities suitable for a diversity of fields within the natural sciences. Therefore the building has been designed to live up to the requirements for interdisciplinary flexibility and innovation that characterise high level modern research. John Renner Hansen, dean of the Faculty of Science, had this to say about the new building project:

”The new building won’t just become a part of the local community, it will also be a window to the international research world and serve to attract talent from far and wide. The research conducted will be world class and contribute to solving some of the enormous challenges faced by society in a number of areas. The same goes for the teaching of students, who will be close to the researchers. But we cannot do it alone. Therefore, we look forward to teaming up with others, including the business community, the public sectors and other partners.”

A neigbourhood with clever minds

The Niels Bohr Building is but one part of the DKK 6 billion investment in Copenhagen Science City where the most advanced research, teaching and healthcare facilities for the University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet (the National Hospital) and the Metropolitan University College will spring up in coming years.

The area will be connected to the rest of the city by the new Metro Cityring line and the new express bus line – “Den Kvikke Vej”.

The new European Spallation Source Data Management and Software Center (ESS) will also be situated in Copenhagen Science City. Together with the ESS research facility in Lund, the DKK 14 billion project is expected to draw some 2,000-3,000 guest researchers from universities, institutions and businesses every year.

A top researcher looks ahead

Matthew Johnson, an American researcher and professor of environmental chemistry at UCPH’s Department of Chemistry, is also enthusiastic about the developments surrounding Copenhagen Science City. Johnson is the inventor of a natural, cheap and versatile method of purifying polluted air, and since 2013 he has been deeply involved in helping INFUSER A/S bring the discovery onto the market.

”INFUSER is an excellent example of the collaboration between researchers and businesses in Copenhagen Science City. In a brief period of time, the firm succeeded at creating new jobs in Copenhagen and we currently see growth opportunities in both the Danish and export markets,” emphasizes Johnson.

Johnson has received great acclaim for his discovery, including Denmark’s most significant environmental awards from the Aase and Ejnar Danielsen Foundation and most recently, the University of Copenhagen’s 2014 Innovation Prize. 

More about The Niels Bohr Building (in Danish)

Read more about Copenhagen Science City


John Renner Hansen, dean, Faculty of Science, mobile 28 75 53 27

Matthew Johnson, professor, Department of Chemistry, mobile 40 49 89 21

Tine Pind Jørum, media consultant, Lord Mayor’s Secretariat, Copenhagen Municipality, mobile 27 11 68 96

Kristoffer Klebak, head of secretariat, Copenhagen Science City, mobile 22 56 83 88

Svend Thaning, journalist, SCIENCE Communication, UCPH, mobile 28 75 42 81.