Introduction to the Carlsberg Foundation

J.C. Jacobsen, founder of the Carlsberg Foundation

The Carlsberg Foundation – a passion for perfection

The Carlsberg Foundation is one of the world’s oldest industrial foundations. Here, ambitious brewing enterprise blossoms side by side with research and support for the finest science, art and culture. The Foundation’s Chairman is not just head of the Carlsberg Foundation, but also Chairman of the Supervisory board of Carlsberg A/S. It has been this way since 1876, when Brewer J.C. Jacobsen established the Carlsberg Foundation.

The Carlsberg Foundation was founded on passion ‒ a passion for perfection. That passion, evident in everything that we do, is embodied in the Foundation’s Charter and in J.C. Jacobsen’s “Golden Words”, inscribed in marble above the entrance gate to Carlsberg’s headquarters in Valby, Copenhagen. These “Golden Words”, the farsightedness of which resonates to this very day, pay homage to the excellent and the sublime. They state that the Carlsberg Foundation should strive for the highest possible quality in everything that it does and that the operation of the Carlsberg brewery should never focus solely on business today, but also give thought to the future.

The “Golden words” were especially visionary. Through these words, J.C. Jacobsen helped ensure that the Carlsberg of today, many years later, would be one of the world’s largest brewing groups owning some of the industry’s strongest brands. The “Golden Words” also provide the platform for the Carlsberg Foundation to provide hundreds of millions of kroner in funding every year for the finest research, science and art and to play an active role in the efforts to overcome some of the world’s global challenges.

The Carlsberg Foundation has two main objectives:

  1. To be an active investor with a controlling interest in Carlsberg A/S, thus ensuring a decisive influence on the Carlsberg Group’s strategy.
  2. To support basic scientific research within the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities through the awarding of grants for socially beneficial projects.

The Carlsberg brewery – quality around the world

The Carlsberg Foundation is the principal shareholder in Carlsberg A/S and exerts a decisive influence on the brewery through its controlling shareholding. As things stand, the Carlsberg Group is currently the world’s third largest brewer, occupying leading positions in the Northern and Eastern European markets as well as strong positions in a number of markets in Asia. The Carlsberg Group has 140 beer brands, employs approximately 41,000 people, and in 2014 sold 122.8 million hectolitres of beer, equivalent to around 37 billion bottles. The Carlsberg Group is currently the only global brewer owned by a commercial foundation, which brings a number of clear benefits. As well as providing effective protection against takeovers, foundation ownership creates better possibilities for long-term thinking and ensures stability in volatile times.

The Carlsberg Foundation supports outstanding research that makes the world a better place

The Carlsberg Foundation supports visionary and innovative international basic research within the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. Basic research that makes us smarter, helps us to address global challenges and benefits society.

The Carlsberg Foundation is particularly keen to support talent development and generational change in Danish basic research, internationalisation of the Danish talent pool and visionary research innovation.

The Foundation asks applicants to reflect on how their research can contribute to social development and help overcome, at both local and global level, the challenges that the world community is facing: massive refugee flows, conflicts and terrorism, climate change, future energy supplies, shortage of clean water and population growth.


Carlsbergfondets nuværende formand, professor, dr.scient. Flemming Besenbacher

The Carlsberg Foundation supports the most talented people

The Carlsberg Foundation supports the best researchers with the most promising projects. The Foundation aims to promote internationalisation and strengthen the growth layer in Danish basic research by supporting the most talented young researchers. The Foundation therefore sends researchers to the most highly acclaimed universities in the world to give them an international experience and network. This nurtures the growth layer and creates favourable conditions for implementing smooth generational change in the Danish universities.

The Carlsberg Foundation also prioritises research across scientific disciplines. It is often in cross-over areas that the real ground-breaking results are achieved. Bringing together researchers who do not normally share results can lead to exciting innovation. In keeping with the Charter, research supported by the Carlsberg Foundation is conducted by Danish and international researchers connected to the Danish research environment.

The Carlsberg Foundation also provides funding for its four departments:

Profits from Carlsberg A/S go back to society

The Carlsberg Foundation is one of Denmark’s largest commercial foundations, interacting with the whole of Danish society. Dividends paid out on the Carlsberg Foundation’s shares in Carlsberg A/S are used by the Carlsberg Foundation, the New Carlsberg Foundation and the Tuborg Foundation to allocate more than DKK 400m every year to basic research, culture, art and the environment as well as to the Carlsberg Research Laboratory and two internationally acclaimed museums: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and the Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle.

It is the Foundation’s vision to manage Brewer J.C. Jacobsen’s bequest such that his philosophies and the Foundation’s Charter are honoured, adapted to the present day and help to characterise the future for Carlsberg, science and society.