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Kim Daasbjerg receives the first Else Kai Sass Award

Professor, chemist and entrepreneur Kim Daasbjerg is the first recipient of the Else Kai Sass Award. Collaboration, innovation and remarkable research communication are at the core of the award and Kim Daasbjerg’s competences.

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Chemist, professor and entrepreneur Kim Daasbjerg will be the first recipient of the Else Kai Sass prize. Photo: Lars Kruse, AU Foto

Three research centres, two companies, excellent teaching and knowledge sharing across the university and with the outside world. 

These are just some of the things Professor Kim Daasbjerg has achieved during the 30 years he has worked at Aarhus University. And these achievements have not gone unnoticed by colleagues, collaboration partners or the management team at the Faculty of Natural Sciences. 

In the dean’s recommendation of Kim Daasbjerg for the award, you can read that "..More than anyone else, Kim Daasbjerg is the embodiment of the principle of an academic entrepreneur”. The Else Kai Sass Award is named after a professor who was ahead of her time and who distinguished herself by sharing her knowledge with the world outside the university’s walls. Just like this year’s recipient.

"I'm very honoured to receive the Else Kai Sass Award. She (Professor Else Kai Sass, ed.) was a visionary and showed how wit, diligence and humour can modernise existing cultures. In a similar vein, I may have tried to challenge some prevailing thought processes by proposing alternative, sometimes unusual, ideas. To some extent, I’ve just followed my intuition,” says Kim Daasbjerg with a smile.

A human catalyst

One of Kim Daasbjerg’s recent initiatives is the Open Science initiative aimed at the university's collaboration with Danish industry. He believed that the university could benefit from inviting industry inside the walls of the university so it could share its knowledge with complete openness. And on the other hand, industry would be able to share its experience within the area of innovation. Today, the initiative has created successful partnerships to the benefit of students, researchers and the business community. 

Collaboration and important knowledge sharing also take place in two spin-outs, RadiSurf and Danish Graphene, as well as at a large research centre at the university, all of which Kim Daasbjerg is involved in. He is also the initiator of events such as Brainnovation Day, the Open Science festivals and entrepreneurship hackathons.

"It can be difficult to realise your visions, but I believe that we can develop and strengthen our knowledge by working together with openness and across disciplines. You should never hesitate to share your experience with others. You’d be surprised by the exciting collaborations and new ideas that an open approach can lead to. I’m a bit of an idealist, in that way," says the award recipient and continues:

"We shouldn’t fear development. Instead, we should face it with an open mind, fresh eyes and preferably in collaboration with others. If we do that, then we’ll really be able to move things in the right direction to the benefit of all.” 

Kim Daasbjerg will receive the Else Kai Sass Award at the annual celebration on 15 September. The award comes with a cash prize of DKK 60,000 and is awarded by the Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation. 


Kim Daasbjerg

  • Born in 1966.
  • PhD from Aarhus University.
  • Professor at the Department of Chemistry and iNANO at Aarhus University. Author of 200 research articles in international peer-reviewed journals, 1 book and 3 patents.
  • Initiator of Open Science, Brainnovation Day and hackathon events.
  • Co-founder of the companies RadiSurf and Danish Graphene.
  • Member of CORC. 

The Else Kai Sass Award

The prize is DKK 60,000 and the award is named after the first female professor at Aarhus University. Else Kai Sass had an international outlook, a deep interest in her students and worked hard to share her knowledge with society. The award is given to a nominee who brings knowledge from AU out into society, and who has made a particularly positive contribution to research communication, collaboration and/or innovation. The prize will be awarded for the first time at the annual celebration on 15 September 2023 by the Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation.