The Centre – P1

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The establishment of the Pioneer Centre funding scheme is an ambitious national undertaking initiated by the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science and developed in close cooperation and co-financing between the Ministry, the universities, and 5 private foundations: the Danish National Research Foundation, the Carlsberg Foundation, the Lundbeck Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, and the Villum Foundation.

Each pioneer centre is linked to one or two, or preferably more Danish universities, which, in close cooperation, will boost Danish research environments and educate the next generation of top researchers through research-based teaching and initiatives aimed at exceptionally talented students.

The first Pioneer Centre: P1

The Pioneer Centre for Artificial Intelligence was the first such pioneer centre, thus has the nickname P1. Granted 47 million Euro (354 million Danish kroner) over 13 years (2021-2034), the P1 vision is to support world-class artificial intelligence research focusing on societal challenges, people and design while putting Denmark at the international forefront. In addition to the disciplines within artificial intelligence, such as machine learning and deep learning, P1 researchers also work on the ethical aspects of AI and how to design technologies built on artificial intelligence in such a way that they are accepted and understood by those who need them.

The University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science hosts the centre, with close cooperation from the 4 partner universities: Aalborg University, University of Aarhus, the Technical University of Denmark, and the IT University of Copenhagen.

Grants to 5 universities

Each of the partner universities received a portion of the grant funding to hire PhD students, postdocs, and to support the recruitment of new faculty. 

The centre’s secretariat is housed at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen, employing the Chief Operating Officer,  communications, finance, and fundraising consultants, as well as secretarial and facilities support. The secretariat includes Innovation and Computing Managers, both of whom are employed at the Technical University of Denmark.

Director, Professor Serge Belongie

Recruited to develop the proposal and lead the new Pioneer Centre for AI, Serge Belongie, was previously the Andrew H. and Ann R. Tisch Professor of Computer Science at Cornell Tech, where he also served as Associate Dean. He was previously a member of the Visiting Faculty program at Google, serves on several boards, and has been involved in several successful start-ups. Professor Belongie is known for his contributions to the fields of computer vision and machine learning, and he has moved the Belongie Lab to the University of Copenhagen, Department of Computer Science.

The building – Observatory in the Botanical Garden

During 2021-2022, P1 was temporarily housed at the University of Copenhagen’s facilities in Østerbro, while the Observatory has been under meticulous renovation. From February 2023, P1 moved into the Observatory in the Botanical Garden in the center of Copenhagen. With 60 work spaces and several meeting and seminar rooms, the Observatory building is the focal-point for cross-institutional collaboration, international guests, and building a vibrant social and scientific community for students and experienced researchers. 


Research and educational initiatives at P1 do not take place in a vacuum – they are connected to and supported by our partners. P1 collaborates with research groups in Denmark and abroad, individual researchers who are affiliates, and national organizations such as the Danish Data Science Academy (DDSA) and the Digital Research Center Denmark (DIREC).

The Observatory
Director, Professor Serge Belongie
The Observatory
Director, Professor Serge Belongie