Targeted funding how and why

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To maximize our impact, KWF will implement changes in its research funding strategy. In the coming years, a more targeted funding approach in thematic ‘tracks’ will be implemented, in addition to open calls in our 'Programma Research & Implementation'

This page explains how and why we implement these tracks, and most importantly, how we involve the oncoligcal field in this process.  

2019: Ambition 2030 & key areas 

In 2019, we defined a new strategic plan with our stakeholders: Ambition 2030.  This plan consists of six areas of focus that together encompass the entire patient journey (around which we organize our work):

  • Prevention through life style and environmental factors 
  • Early detection 
  • Minimally invasive techniques 
  • Cancer drugs
  • Psychosocial care 
  • Palliative care 

Within these strategic key areas, researchers, policy makers, lobbyists and fundraisers work together to reach our goals.   

2022: Targeted funding 

Most research projects that were funded in our open calls, already align well with the key areas in our Ambition 2030. However, we also noticed that there are certain areas where our current funding will not be sufficient to reach our goals. To improve funding for these themes, we will generate targeted, long-term funding. 

In 2022, we conducted a survey, workshops and individual interviews with researchers to map the first areas.  

Results survey, workshops & interviews 

In a survey, we asked 1300 researchers about our funding model, how to improve it, and the research themes KWF can most positively impact. 

  • 327 researchers completed the survey
  • Respondents represent the various research areas of KWF’s current research portfolio 
  • Many researchers indicate that they most often use our open calls to apply for funding
  • Thematic calls, direct funding, and support for consortia were also pointed out as important funding instruments

Key issues confirmed by respondents in our engagement process: 

  • The role of explorative, basic research 
  • The need to maintain focus on rare and difficult to treat tumours 
  • The mandate to implement research findings into practice 

In addition to recommendations about  research themes and funding approach, we received invaluable feedback on other issues that are important to researchers when applying for funding. For example, improvements could be made to the user-friendliness of our Grant Management System and the way we assess and monitor research proposals. We are already working on improvements. 

Funding in tracks

Thanks to the input we received, we have been able to formulate a number of initial research tracks: themes that we want to invest in more intensively and on a longer-term basis in the coming years. We are making these investments because the current way of funding may not lead to the desired acceleration of implementation into clinical practice.  

A variety of themes have been identified, not all of which have been clearly defined yet. In the next few years we will take the time to finetune these themes, in collaboration with researchers in the field. Depending on the theme and on what is needed to achieve the goals of that theme, we will use instruments such as (structural) thematic calls, collaboratively designed funding, and direct network funding. 

Basic research  

Basic research has always been (and will continue to be!) an integral part of our funding strategy, in open calls as well as in targeted funding of tracks and funding of Oncode Institute. Basic research forms the foundation of new and better treatments.


Work in progress 

This transition means a new way of working for KWF. This is a process that will take time. Some tracks have already been developed, others will start in the coming years, shifting the proportion of open calls relative to track funding. We are making these changes in collaboration with researchers in the field.  

You can stay up-to-date by signing up for our quarterly newsletter (Dutch), by checking our research page, or by asking our science liaisons.