New MIT-Denmark collaboration to expand opportunities for global impact

The MIT-Denmark program has received a grant of DKK 10.3 million (over US$1.5 million) from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to support its expansion. MIT-Denmark provides MIT students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in Danish companies, startups, and research institutions. The program aims to bolster innovation in key research and technology areas in Denmark and at MIT by increasing collaboration between the country and the Institute.

The program, which falls under the umbrella of MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), has been thriving since it launched in 2018 in collaboration with the Confederation of Danish Industry. The program has facilitated internships for approximately 100 MIT students, with students interning in more than 50 Danish companies, startups, and institutions. The program’s strong track record has made it increasingly popular with both students and companies.

Kathleen Thelen, professor of political science and faculty director of MIT-Denmark, explains that the program provides MIT students with valuable professional, educational, and cultural experience. “It is a unique opportunity for them to work in Denmark, a country ranked as one of the most innovative in the world, and grow their international network in their chosen field,” she says.

The grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation will help MIT-Denmark increase its focus on internships in startups that are researching and developing solutions for sustainability, including sustainable agriculture and food systems, renewable energy, and carbon capture technologies, as well as startups within quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and robotics. The program will do this with existing collaborators, such as the Confederation of Danish Industry, and new ones, such as the BioInnovation Institute (BII) Foundation and Odense Robotics Cluster.

The grant will also allow the MIT-Denmark program to increase the number of internships offered and connect students with innovation across research and industry, benefiting both students and host organizations. Students can contribute to innovative research in Denmark, gain valuable hands-on experience in cutting-edge projects and initiatives, and expand their global network. They will also have the opportunity to experience local culture, meet people from different backgrounds, and build relationships. The host companies, on the other hand, will utilize and learn from the students’ knowledge of state-of-the-art technologies and strengthen their workforce for the duration of the internship.

MIT-Denmark aligns with the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s strategy for 2030, which aims to boost the life-science ecosystem in Denmark. The program also fits  with the foundation’s focus on educational initiatives within innovation to develop the next generation of translational students, researchers, entrepreneurs, and leaders.

“We want to drive and boost the innovation ecosystem in Denmark. A key aspect of this is to bring the best talents to the region,” says Professor Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation. “MIT is one of the top universities in the world, and so with MISTI MIT-Denmark, we get access to a unique pool of students and the possibility of retaining some of these talents once the internship is completed. The program has established itself as a fertile ground on which industry and research institutions in Denmark can initiate and further build collaboration with MIT. We look forward to the next phase in the program’s evolution.”

MIT-Denmark is dedicated to MIT’s mission of making an impact by addressing crucial global challenges in areas such as health care, climate and sustainability, and computing. These areas often match why students seek internship opportunities in Denmark, recognizing the country’s leadership in those sectors. Previous MIT-Denmark students have joined internships at health-care companies, such as Novo Nordisk, working on a design for drug delivery devices; worked at clean energy startups, such as Seaborg Technologies, which strives to make nuclear energy inexpensive and sustainable; and conducted quantum engineering research at the University of Copenhagen Niels Bohr Institute.

MIT-Denmark is an excellent example of how MISTI programs contribute to global impact by helping students learn how to address critical challenges in key areas. The program provides students unique opportunities to gain international experience, develop new skills, and broaden their knowledge while positively impacting the world. By building new connections through internships and research projects that address these important issues, MISTI programs like MIT-Denmark prepare students to be global citizens and leaders.

“We are so excited for the opportunity to keep growing the program and keep making an impact abroad. These internships are so much more than a summer work experience,” says MIT-Denmark Managing Director Madeline Smith. “This grant will open new doors to a valuable international network, a new culture, and, maybe, a love for Denmark that could lead to a future global career.”

MISTI is MIT’s hub for global experiences, providing immersive international programs that bring MIT’s one-of-a-kind learning model to life in countries around the world. MISTI empowers students to build cultural connections, make an impact in the world, and gain valuable perspectives that inform their education, career, and worldview.