Early-stage researchers in Denmark are particularly vulnerable to the 'creeping corporate culture' of universities (Nature 540, 315; 2016). Managers are tightening spending after government budget cuts last year ended individual postdoctoral grants from the Danish Council for Independent Research.

Furthermore, the increasing focus on the business case for funding schemes forces researchers to follow short-term strategies that might give an immediate return on investment. A growing mission of universities is to nurture entrepreneurship, encouraging researchers to determine key questions and apply scientific outputs. A short-term view is unlikely to solve global societal challenges that call for a long-term perspective and strategy, such as mitigating climate change.

Politicians, academics and higher-education managers must recognize and support the long-term role of sustainable science in society.