Q and A

Questions and Answers

These Q&As are informative in nature; no rights can be derived from them. 

What is the KWF PR&I?

The ambition of KWF Kankerbestrijding (Dutch Cancer Society) is to translate the results of scientific research into applications for patients and the public faster and more frequently. Our goal is to maximise the impact of every euro invested to achieve our mission goals: less cancer, more cure and a better quality of life for (former) cancer patients. Our vision is defined in the KWF Programme Research & Implementation (PR&I). The KWF PR&I has been developed in collaboration with the research field, patients and other stakeholders in oncology.

With the KWF Programme Research & Implementation we provide flexibility with the best possible service in every research phase.

How is the funding framework constructed?

Research is a process. KWF distinguishes 3 tracks: the Exploration, Development and Implementation track. Each track consists of several research phases, 6 in total. KWF also supports infrastructure initiatives in each phase (phase 7). When submitting research projects within the Development track, the appropriate development plan and the possible follow-up steps have to be outlined. Each research phase has specific criteria and conditions with regard to funding phase, reviewing, monitoring and options for continuation. Check the Guidelines for more information.

Which funding types are available?

For the second call for project proposals in 2016, the following types of funding will be available:

  • Research Project
  • Young Investigator Grant
  • Unique High Risk Project
  • Research Consortium

These can be applied for within the Exploration and Development tracks.

At a later stage the number of funding types will be extended and there will also be the possibility to apply for funding for the Implementation track (currently under construction). For every step a new invention/development must go through, the researcher is free to ask for the funds (s)he needs. The funding is flexible: there is no maximum, there are continuing options when results are promising and discontinuing options in case the perspective changes.

For which type of research can I submit a project proposal?

You can submit a project proposal for each type of oncology research: from basic to clinical research and from molecular biology to epidemiology and psychosocial research. Please check the Guidelines .

When can I submit a project proposal?

In 2016 there are two calls for project proposals. The first call starts on January 8, 2016 and closes on April 4, 2016, at 15:00. The second call opens on June 27, 2016 and closes on October 3, 2016, at 15:00. In these calls project proposals may be submitted that fit in the Exploration or Development tracks. At a later stage, the number of funding types will be extended, with opportunities for Infrastructure and Implementation activities. These funding types are currently being developed.

Based on a research agenda you could identify specific themes and launch specific calls for particular tumor types or therapies. Why doesn't KWF do that anymore?

The oncology research field is so vast (more than a hundred tumor types, on many locations in the body) that it is impossible for KWF to predict in advance where new opportunities will arise and what issues must now be addressed. Developments take flight within a year. However, a good research agenda often takes more preparation time and thus has a high risk of being obsolete when it is used actively. For example, ten years ago hardly anyone could have imagined that immunotherapy would now take an enormous flight. If we had just launched thematic calls in that time frame (and immunotherapy would likely not have been a part of it), the results of immunotherapy would not have been as promising as they are now.

KWF does not have a preference beforehand for project proposals with a specific topic, such as rare tumors or pediatric oncology. However, KWF will, by establishing cooperation and partnerships we build with the research field, be able to identify gaps in the research field and to fill them. We are convinced that it is much more effective to intrinsically motivate researchers (through seminars, networking events, infrastructure support and other activities such as advocacy and knowledge sharing) to tackle a problem, than by forcing them to do so by launching a specific call for project proposals. This approach ensures that we always fund the best research projects with the highest quality, relevance and feasibility.

Why does KWF not work with preliminary calls for project proposals?

Because, in our view, the development of a proper pre-proposal, including all stakeholders, requires that the entire project has been elaborated on. That process takes almost as much time. Also, reviewing pre-proposals prior to full proposals results in an even longer time span from submission to final funding decision, due to the additional review cycle for pre-proposals.

No specific themes or priorities are associated with the PR&I; we will purely focus on quality, relevance and feasibility of a project proposal. A pre-proposal does not contain sufficient information to make a proper review on the basis of these aspects. Besides, it is always possible to contact KWF before submitting your project proposal, to discuss whether a project falls within the scope of the PR&I. The Project Leader is responsible for the decision to submit a project proposal or not.

Can I also contact KWF in case of specific questions?

Yes. Besides the bestedingen@KWF.nl mail address, you can also call the Scientific Review and Grants Administration: 0031 - 20 - 570 04 50. For questions that cannot be answered immediately, you will be connected with – or called back by – one of our programme coordinators.

How will the handling of ongoing projects granted for funding before January 8th, 2016 work? Should everything be resubmitted or will it remain as is?

For projects that have been approved before January 8, 2016, the conditions, procedures and documents that have been provided through the (annexes of) the "Toekenningsbesluit" ("Grant letter") apply.

The download archive (in Dutch) provides an overview of the most consulted documents. No new information has to be fed into the new KWF GMS. Researchers must, however, create their personal profile (personal and contact details) when they want to (co)submit a new project proposal.

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Q&A’s on registration and submitting

How does the submission of a project proposal work?

All information is available in the Guidelines. But in a nutshell, as follows: it begins with registration, login and completing your profile. If your profile is complete, you can create your project proposal by clicking 'create application'. You need to choose the type of funding (Research Project, Young Investigator Grant, Unique High Risk Project or Research Consortium) and to determine the research track and phase your project proposal fits in. If your project proposal is complete, you can submit the proposal.

What does the form for submitting a project proposal look like?

The form for submitting a project proposal is available on the KWF Grant Management System (KWF GMS) after you have registered. The instructions for submitting a project proposal can also be found in the Guidelines. Template forms for project proposals within the Exploration and Development tracks are available on the download page.

Does KWF assist in writing project proposals?

No, we will not assist you in writing your project proposal itself, because we do not want to interfere in the content and need to remain neutral in the review process. Of course we will be more than happy to help you in case of any problems with KWF GMS, the procedure and the proper way of submitting your project proposal.

I want to submit a project proposal, but I am uncertain whether my project falls within the Credentialing or in the Creation of modality phase. Do I have to choose a phase before I submit my project proposal?

Yes, it is necessary to choose. However, the KWF Grant Management System describes the various phases. Please check the Guidelines for research tracks and phases.

The design of the KWF PR&I is that all proposals are handled in a uniform procedure. Is this also true for project proposals that involve partnerships?

Yes that's right. The design of the KWF PR&I is one clear portal and the same procedure for all ideas, in order to maintain uniformity and handling of all project proposals. In this way, KWF will receive a complete overview of (the contents of) all projects. Thus, we can monitor projects from the outset and make the best choices based on scientific quality, relevance and feasibility. The new KWF PR&I can only be achieved if all projects are treated according to the same procedure.

What are the different process steps a project proposal has to go through?

• Registration
• Review phase
    a. Eligibility check
     - Completeness check
     - Scientific eligibility check
    b. External review phase 
    c. Board review phase
• Review by individual committee members
• Review Meeting 
    d. Prioritisation Meeting
• Decision (to grant funding or to reject the project proposal)
• Project effectuation (monitoring and evaluation)
• Conclusion

How do I fill in a work package and how many work packages am I allowed to create?

It is important to submit a good project proposal in which at least one work package is defined. A work package is designed to structure a body of research into schedule and results. In each work package, the following information should be included:

  • the contribution that this part of the work provides to the aim (at least one milestone) and the methods and techniques that are being used;
  • the start and end date (in months) in relation to the overall work plan, the objective(s), description of the work required and the work package leader who is responsible for the implementation of the work package.

I would like to submit a project proposal for a prospective observational study. In which track (the Exploration or the Development track) and in which phase do you think my proposal will fit best?

The research that will be carried out on the basis of the collected data, fits best in the Credentialing phase in the Exploration track.

Setting up a database can be staged as part of the project, but the focus of the project should be on the research being done with the data. If the focus of the activities is to set up the database, it is not possible to submit a proposal for this. KWF is still working on the Infrastructure funding type. See also the Q&A on infrastructure. It is important to identify why a new database is set up and why no affiliation is being sought with existing initiatives to store data.

When submitting a project proposal for a (clinical) trial, should the MEC (in Dutch: METC) statement be available? Or is it OK to have it available when the trial actually starts?

No, the MEC statement is not necessary yet when submitting a project proposal. At the start or during the research itself, prior to the start of the clinical trial, the MEC statement should be available. You can describe this as a milestone in your project proposal.

Can I submit a project proposal for research abroad?

At present KWF keeps its focus on Dutch research. KWF believes in international cooperation; research does not observe national boundaries. However, our focus is on research in which the bulk of the work is carried out in the Netherlands. The KWF PR&I offers possibilities to carry out parts of the work abroad, provided that it can be well argued that this is necessary for the realization of the work plan.

Can the person in charge of a work package be someone with a labor contract outside the Netherlands?

Yes, if the work package is carried out by a research group in a foreign institution. The bulk of the work for the research project should take place in the Netherlands and the Project Leader has to have a labor contract with a Dutch institute which is approved by KWF. In short, a project may boost foreign partners on a project proposal (however, they cannot act as a Project Leader). KWF does not fund development aid. And when the subject is Implementation, this is not possible yet; this funding type is still under construction.

Is there a fixed KWF contribution for the following items:

  • Data management and trial coordination (local / central data management / trial coordination; site monitoring)?

The costs of data management can be budgeted. Payments will not be made directly to the data center. This should be done by (the institute of) the Project Leader. See also the Q&A I want to use a data center; should it be KWF accredited?

  • Additional personnel cost (for example, for writing a clinical study protocol)?

Personnel costs should be based on the CAO-NU scales, in accordance with the ‘Financieel reglement’ ('Financial regulations') of KWF, which can be found on the download page.

  • Study groups?

Not within the currently available funding types and phases. The setting up of a study group can be submitted within the funding type Infrastructure (under construction). See also the Q&A on Infrastructure.

  • Other costs (a.o. statistical support, quality of life research, and the like)?

These costs can be budgeted. KWF does not use fixed amounts for these costs.

  • Travel expenses?

For scientific personnel (postdoc, PhD student, etc.) € 1,500 per full time unit per year can be claimed as a personal budget (for travel expenses including conference visits, dissertation and publication costs). This is a standard amount and cannot be increased.

Can I submit a project proposal for psychosocial research? And how do you guarantee that psychosocial research is eligible for funding?

Yes, you can. Within the total communication about cancer research there seems to be a lack of attention for psychosocial research, but psychosocial research is very important to KWF because it can contribute to one of its three mission goals: a better quality of life for (ex) patients. In which of the research phases a project proposal falls, does not matter: we fund research that is feasible, relevant and of good quality. Also, we make sure that psychosocial oncology expertise is represented in both committees of the KWF Board of Advisors.

In which of the research tracks should I submit my psychosocial project proposal?

All types of research, including psychosocial research and epidemiological studies, fit the Exploration track if the research focuses on:

  • obtaining basic insights into the development, progression and (psychological) effects of cancer, as well as basic principles of prevention and treatment of cancer and relevant technological developments;
  • discovery and verification of a starting point for a possible application, as well as factors that affect or are useful in the prevention, diagnosis or therapy, including observational studies and population studies (including cross-sectional studies, cohort studies and case-control studies).

A (psychosocial) research project fits the Development track from the moment the project focuses on the further development of a starting point, or factors that affect or are useful in the prevention, diagnosis or therapy and where the final application is concrete and tangible.

What does KWF mean with 'infrastructure’ and ‘infrastructural initiatives? What is its purpose? And can I submit a project for infrastructural support?

Examples of infrastructure are biobanks, support networks, databases and supporting tools for collaborations. These are national rollout initiatives; the proposed infrastructure is essential to carry out cancer research optimally.

The aim is to offer the possibility of supporting infrastructure initiatives based on identified needs that are broadly supported from the research field. On the basis of this need the optimum support for any form of infrastructure initiative is determined, in collaboration with an independent (international) committee. The starting points are: the support is temporary and consists of three phases, namely initiate, consolidate and release. Prior to funding, and during the funding phase, KWF investigates whether the initiative can be accommodated to (a) third party (parties).

It is not possible to submit a project proposal for infrastructural initiatives yet. KWF is still working on this type of funding.

Is it possible to submit a follow-up project proposal before all results of my current project are known?

Yes. If a project is successful, KWF provides for the possibility to continue the project in the subsequent stage. To submit a follow-up project proposal, it is not necessary to completely finalize the current project. For example, a project can be prematurely turned into a new project precisely to achieve acceleration from research results to (clinical) application.

Does time registration, working with time sheets, or time tracking, mean that I have to record all hours? Should every hour be justified, or will a rough explanation be sufficient?

In the ‘Financieel reglement’ ('Financial regulations') of KWF the following statement can be found: "For scientific project personnel a comprehensive time registration must be conducted, showing that the actual staffing is in full accordance with the proposed staffing.” How Project Leaders and institutes / universities organize this, is up to them and should be done in accordance with their accountant or auditor; they are responsible for a robust method.

KWF realizes that a comprehensive time registration is a heavier administrative burden than before, though as far as this subject is concerned the ‘Controleprotocol’ (Audit protocol) was already adjusted in December 2014, so this requirement has been effective for some time. The fact remains that 80 to 90% of our research funding goes into man-hours and salaries. Our donors (and our society as a whole) ask for guarantees: the assurance that the money has actually been spent consistently and wisely, and has been accounted for. In the spirit of responsible funding comprehensive time registration is the only guidance for an accountant or auditor; all other methods are not specific enough.

From which institutions can a project proposal be submitted? Is there a list available?

Not every type of organisation is eligible for every type of funding. The table in the Instructions & Guidelines shows which role an organisation can play when participating in KWF projects. Participating institutes in KWF projects need to register in GMS. The KWF executive board will decide about the participation of organisations that are not explicitly listed in the table. Only the institute of the project leader, the Lead Institute, will be checked for eligibility. In practice all institutes, with the exception of businesses, can be subjected to a check. KWF has the right to reject a proposal if (a) the institute of the project leader does not satisfy the requirements set for the check, or (b) the necessary documents are not provided on time.
Please check the appendix in the Guidelines (see download page) for further information.

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Q&A’s on funding types

Which types of funding are available?

In the first call for project proposals, the following funding types are available:

  • Research Proposal (RO)
  • Young Investigator Grant (YIG)
  • Unique High Risk Project (UHR)
  • Research Consortium (CON)

Additionally KWF is working on the Implementation and Infrastructure funding types (see also the Q&A on Infrastructure). The funding conditions and requirements depend on both the research phase and the type of funding.

What does KWF mean by Research Project?

A research project is a research proposal with a defined scope in terms of goal, expected results, duration, costs and research group(s). There is no limit to the requested budget and time. However, the requested budget should be supported by financial projections. If the project involves collaboration between multiple organisations, the added value of each of the separate organisations has to be substantiated.

NB: A Research Consortium proposal should be submitted if one of the following conditions is met:
• The proposal is performed by 4 or more organisations (service providers not included).
• One or more for-profit organisations (companies) are involved as participating organisation and/or co-funder.
• The proposal is part of an ongoing collaborative project performed by more than three organisations.
• The budget exceeds 1 million euros and at least 2 organisations are involved.

As a young talent, can I still submit a project proposal? Is there a special review procedure or allocated budget for young researchers?

KWF will continue to invest in the development of young researchers to ensure a steady influx of new research lines and excellent (clinical) researchers into the field of oncology research. Talented young researchers are offered the opportunity to submit their own project proposals, which are reviewed in a separate competition known as the “Young Investigator Grant” (YIG, for short) without having to compete with the established researchers. The Young Investigator Grant is a possibility for young researchers, doctor’s assistants, or medical specialists. The young researcher should be post doctoral and is supposed to set up his or her own line of research, preferably in another laboratory than where he or she did his or her doctoral work.

  • Available for research in the Exploration and Development tracks.
  • Details on the terms and conditions can be found by clicking Young Investigator Grants.

One of the funding types in the new KWF PR&I is the Young Investigator Grant. What do you consider ‘young’?

A person can submit a YIG up to five years after obtaining a PhD. The time spent for medical specialization after obtaining the PhD may be added to this period. The BIG number and year of specialization / PhD promotion automatically lead the Project Leader to the eligibility for a YIG in KWF GMS.

EXAMPLE: For the calculation of the deadline to qualify for a YIG, the Project Leader needs to add the time (s)he actually spent in training (for example, 5 years, 0.5 full time units = 2.5 years training) to the PhD degree date.

If a researcher is (just) not eligible for a Young Investigator Grant, can (s)he apply for an ‘ordinary’ Research Project?

Yes, that's possible. And researchers who are eligible for a YIG do not have to choose this type of funding. They can also submit a Research Project.

We miss the KWF Clinical Fellowships; will this be detrimental to clinical research? And will the current KWF Fellowships and Bas Mulder Awards still exist within the new KWF PR&I?

The best aspects of the KWF Fellowships and Bas Mulder Awards are combined into a new form of funding: the Young Investigator Grant. We continue to invest in young talent. Throughout the funding framework there will be funding possibilities for PhD programs and post-doc positions. The former full time unit standard of 0.8 is lowered to 0.5 so one can combine research with clinical work.

Can I submit a project proposal for a Young Investigator Grant for a project that is partially carried out abroad?

Yes, this is possible if you are able to substantiate that the time abroad is necessary to successfully do the research. In addition, at least half the research activities should be carried out in the Netherlands.

Are internships abroad still a possibility within the new KWF PR&I?

In the KWF PR&I the possibilities to do an internship abroad are extended. Internships abroad can be applied for within all project proposals.

The internship abroad takes place at one institution (a research group outside the project team). The internship abroad can be requested for scientific personnel (postdoc, PhD student, etc.), funded by KWF, to get knowledge and skills from abroad to the Netherlands if it is necessary or essential for the implementation of the project. The internship abroad is not intended as a mere personal training. During the term of the internship abroad the person involved remains employed by the Dutch institute. It is the responsibility of the Dutch institute to arrange the funding of the internship. The internship abroad should start in the first half of the project; the knowledge gained abroad should be implemented after completion of the internship and be implemented within the duration of the project in the Netherlands. After completion of the internship abroad, there still has to be enough time to implement the knowledge. The Internal Review Committee of the KWF Board of Advisors has to decide whether or not this is the case.

Which costs can be submitted for the internship abroad?

The KWF GMS includes a calculation tool with which the Project Leader can calculate the travel and residence expenses for the internship abroad. Calculations are based on monthly amounts and expenses (the smallest unit is half a month. The internship should last at least one month and may not exceed half of the duration of the project, with an absolute maximum of 24 months).

What does KWF mean by Unique High Risk Project? And what is the difference with a Research Project? Basic research is inherently high risk, because you never know whether something will work.

It is true that basic research by definition entails a high risk, but for a four-year research project, a solid foundation on the basis of the work is required. It has been found that it is often difficult to get funding for this preparatory work to new lines of research and ideas. This type of funding offers the possibility of performing short-term preparatory work on the basis of a good, but not entirely crystalized idea, to determine whether the idea offers any viable opportunities. This is aimed at non-existing lines of research with a mostly theoretical basis, but with high potential for breakthroughs in science or the fight against cancer. If the results of a Unique High Risk Project are positive, this is an excellent basis for submitting a Research Project Proposal.

  • Available for research in the Exploration and Development tracks.
  • Details on the terms and conditions can be found by clicking Unique High Risk Projects.

For a Unique High Risk Project, is it also possible to appoint just non-scientific or supporting personnel?

Yes, but only in the case of Unique High Risk Projects.

Does KWF work with reference amounts or with flexible budgets?

With both. KWF works with reference amounts for the Exploration and Development tracks. Within these tracks different types of funding are available (Research Project, Young Investigator Grant, Unique High Risk Project and Research Consortium). The flexibility lies in the fact that we no longer use maximum thresholds anymore. The words ‘reference amounts’ is truly referential: an investigator may deviate from them. (S)he can submit the amounts (s)he needs to carry out the research, provided that (s)he can substantiate why.

What does KWF mean by co-funding? Is there a minimum percentage?

Co-funders are public or private organisations that contribute cash or materials to the project and are not involved in the execution of the work plan. If the project involves co-funding, please specify the name of the institute/organisation/ company. A letter of commitment is obligatory and should be uploaded as an attachment to the Project Proposal and meet the requirements as outlined in the appendix in the Guidelines. Letters of commitment must be clearly recognizable by the file name.

There is no minimum percentage or amount of co-funding; the Internal Review Committee will assess whether the requested KWF contribution to the development is real or factual in relation to the co-financing.

Basically, anyone who makes a contribution (in kind or cash) for the implementation of a project and has an interest in the outcome of a project, can be a co-funder. A co-funding company cannot be a participant in the project proposal and cannot have a performing role in the Research Project funding type. If you want this to be the case, please submit a project proposal for the Consortia funding type. When a company is acting as co-funding party, a Consortium agreement between the parties concerned must be signed prior to the start of the project.

Start-ups are small companies originating from universities with the goal to make a profit eventually. Therefore, start-ups cannot be the main applicant. How can a start-up join as a partner in a project proposal?

There will not be a possibility for participation of private parties (i.e. companies) within the KWF PR&I, other than purely as a co-funding party or service provider. Both roles do not seem obvious to the average start-up. Within the Consortium funding type, private parties, including start-ups, can participate in projects as public-private partnerships. Companies can participate, but not act as Project Leader, as Project Leaders must have an employee relationship with a Dutch knowledge institution. Furthermore, companies can participate in consortia but not request KWF funding for their activities within the work package.

Start-ups are small companies originating from universities with the goal to make a profit eventually. Therefore, start-ups cannot be the main applicant. How can a start-up join as a partner in a project proposal?

There is no possibility for participation of private parties (i.e. companies) within the KWF PR&I, other than purely as a co-funding party or service provider. Both roles do not seem obvious to the average start-up. Within the Consortium funding type, private parties, including start-ups, can participate in projects as public-private partnerships. Companies can participate, but not act as Project Leader, as Project Leaders must have an employee relationship with a Dutch knowledge institution. Furthermore, companies can participate in research consortia but not request KWF funding for their activities within the work package.

I do not understand the difference between a research project proposal in which I introduce multiple parties, and Research Consortia.

A research project proposal contains up to three collaborating parties, all of them academic. Research Consortia is a funding type for collaborations with multiple parties and of a more complex nature, and when private parties are involved. The difference is made because KWF has to make different contractual and legal agreements. Precisely because of the involvement of private parties, the contracts are more complex.

Which suppliers are eligible to make a co-finance contribution; do you have qualifying criteria for them?

There are no requirements. Everyone can make a co-financing contribution, except for the tobacco industry.

How is the budget distributed among the Exploration and Development tracks; is it set in advance?

Depending on the amount of money KWF receives from donations, 40% will go to the Exploration track and 60% will go to the Development track. However, these are non-binding guidelines. If many good project proposals are submitted in the Exploration track and a limited number in the Development track, a part of the budget from the Development track can be used for the Exploration track. In short, these are reference amounts. In case of significant differences between the tracks in either numbers of fundable projects or the requested budgets, we may deviate from the reference amounts.
For the Young Investigator Grant proposals, a separate budget is reserved. These Project Leaders (young researchers) do not have to compete with renowned researchers. However, as always, KWF only grants project proposals which are relevant, feasible, and high in scientific quality.

Is there a prioritization or budget allocation based on the KWF mission goals?

No, there is no division on the basis of mission goals. KWF funds research that is feasible, relevant and of good quality and fits the mission goals of KWF. Project proposals that meet those criteria, will be funded (provided the amount of money KWF has received, is sufficient).

KWF releases the maximum amount for a project proposal; how do you prevent that a few large project proposals run off with the money?

In each call, KWF selects project proposals that make the greatest contribution to our mission goals for the available budget by weighing the costs and benefits of the project proposals. It is possible that this is achieved with a smaller number of large projects in call number one, while in call number two the best value is reached with a greater number of smaller projects.

Clinical trials cost millions of euros; how can KWF fund these projects?

KWF assumes that in these projects we will not be the only party committed to the project. The amount requested must be proportionate to the required budget. In addition, for each proposal KWF will weigh the costs against the benefits and assesses whether or not KWF is the one who should support and fund this study in this particular case. The conclusion could be that there is no other party (e.g. company or investor) who will fund this.

What is the relationship between Alpe d'HuZes and the new KWF PR&I?

The money raised for Alpe d'HuZes becomes available to the KWF PR&I and, like the other donations to KWF, will be given to the best project proposals. There will be no specific call or agenda.

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Q&A’s on reviewing

My project proposal will be evaluated twice: first to determine if it is 'eligible' and subsequently by the Internal Review Committee. Could you provide me with objective measures?

Please go to the Review page, in which the procedure is elaborated.

Why are various review reports necessary in order to decide whether or not to grant a project proposal?

The different review reports are needed to properly review the scientific quality, feasibility and relevance of the project proposal, including its development plan (if applicable). The three members of the Internal Review Committee assigned to a project proposal will receive all the external reviewer reports. KWF will also provide a summary of all facts related to the project proposal. On the basis of the external reviewer reports, and taking into account the input from various perspectives and their own scientific expertise, the three assigned Committee members will independently provide an objective review of the project proposal’s scientific quality, relevance and feasibility, together with their respective arguments. On the basis of the reviewers’ reports, the feedback, the three Committee members' reviews (incl. motivation/explanation), and the discussion at the Internal Review Committee meeting, the Internal Review Committee will then establish a final review. In the final review the project proposal must have at least sufficient values for quality, feasibility and relevance to qualify for funding.

Is it not true that scientific quality is essential in the review phase, and that relevance to the fight against cancer and feasibility can be characterized as preconditioned?

No. All three aspects are equally important. A project proposal will only be granted if it scores at least adequate on all three aspects. In other words, if one of these three aspects is addressed insufficiently, the project proposal will be rejected.

What is the scoring methodology used by KWF? And how does KWF ensure that each project undergoes a similar quality test?

The content of the review criteria is specified by the research phase and adapted to the frameworks and conditions associated with that respective phase. Scoring takes place on relevance, feasibility and quality by:

  • a "high" - "medium" - "low" - score for each aspect;
  • substantive arguments.

On the basis of the reviewers’ reports, the feedback, the three assigned committee members' reviews (incl. motivation/explanation), and the discussion at the board review meeting, the Internal Review Committee will then establish a final review. The following classification system is used:

A (very good project proposals; top 20%),

B (good project proposals, eligible for funding), or

C (project proposals not eligible for funding).

If a project proposal proves to be incomplete after the deadline, and is not yet complete after the 48-hour recovery procedure, or it does not meet the minimum scientific requirements, the proposal receives a D score: Insufficiently developed to review. In that case, the project is rejected and not sent to external reviewers.

Are there any exceptions to the rule that every project proposal has to meet the same quality criteria and has to go through the same process?

For all types of funding, the quality, relevance, and feasibility of the project proposal are discussed and reviewed in an Internal Review Committee meeting. In case of a project proposal for a Young Investigator Grant, an interview will be part of the procedure, where specific questions can be asked about certain aspects of the project proposal. For any type of funding, the Internal Review Committee can also decide that it is necessary to arrange for an interview.

What will be discussed in an interview?

During the interview for a Young Investigator Grant the Project Leader involved will have to prove whether (s)he is able to carry out the project independently, and whether (s)he has the potential and the ability to make a substantial contribution to the oncology research field in the future.

The specific questions during an interview will depend heavily on the contents of the project proposal itself. Based on the review reports and the interview, the Internal Review Committee wil make a final recommendation.

Will the reviews of the Internal Review Committee lead to an immediate payment?

No. The reviews from the Internal Review Committee meeting are brought together in a prioritizing meeting. This prioritizing meeting is attended by the (vice) chairs of the Internal Review Committees and KWF. The final advice is formulated on the basis of an overview of all project proposals and their respective weighting, with input from KWF. KWF will make the final decision.

Will patient judgment be applied to all project proposals?

KWF gives patients, united in the Patient Advisory Committee (PACO), a voice in reviewing all its funding and support, with the exception of project proposals in the Exploration track, since projects in this track revolve around basic and early translational research where there is currently no demonstrable relevance to patients.

What is the value of the PACO in reviewing scientific project proposals?

In the review process (formed) patients, united in the Patient Advisory Committee (PACO), play an important role. From 2016 they will have a voice in all KWF’s spending. The only exception is for project proposals in the Exploration track, since project proposals in that track revolve around basic scientific research where there may be no demonstrable relevance to patients. But (former) patients are experience experts who can give a good judgment on the relevance and feasibility of project proposals within the Development track from their own perspective. Think about questions like: Is there a connection between the objective of the project and the needs or desires of cancer patients? Does the desired result provide sufficient added value relative to the current situation? Is the burden of participating in this study acceptable, given its intended purpose? Is there enough attention to the ethical aspects, the implementation of the results or realization of the necessary follow-up? They look also at the involvement of patients in the design and implementation of the project on the basis of questions such as: Were patients (associations and/or representatives) involved in the planning and execution of the research? Does the Patient Information Form (PIF) contain all of the relevant information for potential participants to make an informed decision about participating in this study and is the PIF written in an understandable and readable fashion? And will there be feedback to the patient about the results of the research project?

Will project proposals submitted for the Unique High Risk Project type of funding be reviewed in a separate committee?

No. They will be reviewed in one of the two Internal Review Committees of the KWF Board of Advisors, depending on the track for which the project proposal was submitted.

Will a breadth of expertise (e.g. basic, translational, clinical, psychosocial, health care practice) be present in the Internal Review Committees? Does KWF have any experience with it? And how many members will each of the Committees contain?

In compiling the Internal Review Committees, a broad mix of expertise and experience was sought. The various disciplines are represented as well as possible. If necessary, specialized external experts in their specific field will also be consulted. In the past years, a lot of experience with these multidisciplinary Review Committees was gained, both nationally and internationally. Cancer Research UK (CRUK), for example, has reduced much of its reviews to one multidisciplinary committee. Because the two Committees have an understanding of project proposals, recognizing duplications is easier. The Committees consist of approximately 30 members. Members of the Internal Review Committees will be trained in process skills. In addition, specific external reviewer reports are part of the review phase. All in all, specific expertise required for each project is guaranteed.

Regarding psychosocial research, the expertise in this field will be represented in both of the two Internal Review Committees, since the new Exploration track is a broadening of the former basic research and will include psychosocial research (observational studies, i.e.). Psychosocial research may, depending on the design of the study, fall within the Exploration, Development, or Implementation track.

How will you compare project proposals with different budgets?

KWF funds research that is feasible, relevant and of good quality. The best project proposals will be funded, regardless of research phase or budget.

In order to obtain a good review, external experts can be very important. Does the new KWF PR&I have that option?

A minimum of 3 external (inter)national scientific reviewers will review the project proposal. In addition, the Patient Advisory Committee (PACO) will give its opinion on the project proposal, based on the Dutch summary and information on the relevance and feasibility from a patient's perspective. Should it be necessary, the project proposal will also be reviewed within the context of a specific discipline, such as business, statistics or health care.

How does KWF ensure that there is no conflict of interest between me as a researcher and the (internal or external) reviewers? Can I indicate that I do not want certain people to review my project proposal?

Yes, you can. In the project proposal you can make a suggestion for reviewers and you also have the option to indicate that you would like for certain people not to review your project proposal. Reviewers will be selected on the basis of a number of selection criteria, of which conflict of interest is one.

Will a long or good resume play a role in the review phase?

Reviewing is about relevance, quality and feasibility of a project proposal. In reviewing the feasibility, the reviewers will ascertain whether the right expertise is present in the project team and that the correct group is involved in the research. A long or good resume does not guarantee funding; what matters is the submission of a project proposal of good quality.

Will projects with a clear translational aspect get priority in the new KWF PR&I? In other words, will projects that stand closer to the patient have an advantage? And will there be less focus on small project proposals than major ones?

All project proposals will be evaluated according to the same criteria. The Exploration and Development tracks will each have their own guideline budgets. Additionally, no project proposals will get 'priority'; the aim is to pick the best project proposals, which will be reviewed on scientific quality, feasibility and relevance, and fund them. In short, each project proposal receives the same level of scrutiny and goes through the same process, whether it involves basic, translational or clinical research, and whether it is a small or a large project proposal. The KWF PR&I is designed to create one clear entry for all ideas, in order to ensure uniformity in submitting, reviewing and handling of project proposals.

How long does the evaluation process take?

The decision to grant or not grant funding for project proposals submitted in the first call for project proposals will be in December 2016. In 2017 the time span will last a maximum of 6 months. Projects that are granted have to start as soon as possible, but no later than 6 months after the ‘Toekenningsbesluit’ (‘Grant letter’) is received.

Will clinical scientists be disadvantaged by only one call in 2016?

KWF regrets that we have one call this year. We want to establish the new process carefully and make adjustments when necessary. KWF wants to achieve an optimum throughput as quickly as possible for multiple calls per year.

Specific to the clinical data management support projects: will reviewing by review reports be slowing down data management unnecessarily?

The reviewing process will be equal for all types of funding. The data management projects were previously reviewed without input from external reviewers. Given the expansion of opportunities to request for support in the clinical phase, the fact that one can submit a project proposal for a clinical trial, and the extension of the evaluation criteria, KWF believes that all project proposals should be reviewed in the same way, including input from external reviewers.

I want to use a data center; should it be KWF-accredited?

The mandatory accreditation of KWF for local and central data management has been removed. KWF wants to support each type of research in the same way. Based on responses from the oncology research field we have reached the conclusion that this is not possible when project proposals can only be submitted in conjunction with the current accredited data centers. KWF removed the mandatory accreditation for local and central data management for projects from 2016. KWF assumes that data management will be conducted in a high quality fashion, for quality research. The quality of the data management activities is included in the review phase.

More information on data management projects can be found in the Guidelines.

Is there an option to appeal within the new KWF PR&I?

It is possible to appeal after the decision to grant funding or reject the project proposal has been made.

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Q&A’s on research tracks and phases

Why do you offer different research tracks and phases?

Any research phase requires its own specific criteria and preconditions in terms of funding, review methodology, monitoring progress and possible continuation options. In order to classify, review, monitor and facilitate project proposals as optimally as possible, we have arranged several research phases, each with specific propositions and criteria (see illustration). These research phases are divided into three tracks: the Exploration, Development, and Implementation tracks. 

 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
There are 3 tracks and a total of 6 phases. The breakdown is as follows:

• Exploration track

- Basic research (1)

- Credentialing (2)

• Development track

- Creation of modality (3)

- Pre-clinical research (4)

- Clinical research (5)

• Implementation track

- Implementation (6)

Additionally KWF will support infrastructural initiatives in the field of oncology research for each research phase (7). KWF is still working on this funding type.

What does KWF mean by the described 6 phases?

Please go to the Funding in tracks page or check the Guidelines.

I want to submit a project proposal for the Credentialing research phase. Will KWF ask for a development plan?

No, for project proposals within the Exploration track (Basic research and Credentialing research phases) a development plan is not required. For project proposals within the Development track, a development plan is required. In the Creation of modality research phase, a development plan may be sketched out (without detail).

What is the purpose of the Development track? And what is the difference between a Development track and a development plan?

The objective of setting up the Development track is to consider project proposals on the basis of their development track (the KWF Development track, and the description of the process of development, development track, have the same name). With a development track, we mean all the steps that an invention or idea have to go through to eventually be applied in practice. We achieve this by asking researchers to write a development plan, see the Q&A What is a development plan and how do I write one? The researcher will be asked to describe all steps an invention should go through to be applied in practice, including potential risks and opportunities.

What is a development plan and how do I write one?

A project proposal within the Exploration track only includes the detailed work plan. For project proposals within the Development track, an additional development plan is required.

In a development plan, the Project Leader describes all steps an invention should go through to be applied in practice, thus becoming available to patients, care-givers and other end users. In the project proposal, the Project Leader should already have considered potential risks and opportunities, for instance in terms of regulatory aspects, toxicity, Intellectual Property (IP), (medical) need, implementation, and costs. On the basis of this detailed plan, KWF can optimally facilitate the Project Leader in reaching final implementation of the invention.

During the project KWF will continuously monitor and evaluate all these aspects. If successful, the next research phase will be started and funded. When a project is proceeding less smoothly, KWF will look for causes and issues, and try to resolve them.

What does KWF do with the data I describe in the development plan?

Based on the detailed development plan, KWF can make an assessment of the feasibility and risks of the development pathway and support the investigator to fast track the research through the next phase whenever possible. To make a realistic assessment of the opportunities and risks, KWF will – if necessary – involve specific expertise. Think of hospital pharmacists, regulatory experts, implementation experts, clinicians / caregivers, patients, and (where relevant) the pharmaceutical / biotechnology industry. The further the research progresses down the development route, the more KWF will become involved as a facilitator; monitoring will be intensified. Wherever possible, KWF will act as a liaison in the implementation of these tracks, for instance by attracting the relevant stakeholders, and by helping Project Leaders to take maximum advantage of opportunities that arise. For high potential projects KWF will also offer continuation funding, to guarantee the progress of developments.

Will the same rules for clinical research also apply to clinical diagnostic research?

No. Clinical diagnostic research concerns the validation of new technologies where the potential clinical value of a diagnosticum or prognosticum will prospectively be detected in a patient or population-related study. Such research means evaluation and monitoring using already validated techniques.

For which themes can project proposals be submitted?

A Project Leader can submit any subject as long as it is related to the oncology research field and fits the mission goals of KWF. KWF does not communicate a research agenda or thematic calls. See also the Q&A on research agenda and thematic calls.

Are all types of funding available for the various research phases?

Yes. Project proposals can be submitted for the Research Project, Young Investigator Grant, Unique High Risk Project or Research Consortium funding types. We are working on the Infrastructure and Implementation funding types.

Is a project proposal on research into a rare type of cancer less likely to be granted than a project proposal on research of a common type of cancer, such as breast cancer?

No. Project proposals are judged on quality, feasibility and relevance. Good projects which meet those criteria (provided there is sufficient budget) will be funded. Relevance is not just about the number of people who have the disease. An invention or development can also be very relevant for a small group with a specific tumor type.

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Q&A’s on operating

What will KWF change in its way of operating?

KWF's ambition is to fast track the results of scientific research more often and faster to applications for patients and the general public. To do this, KWF works together with researchers and (commercial) parties, facilitates the oncology research field and identifies trends and developments. For the KWF programme coordinators – formerly known as research coordinators – this means optimal process management and includes the following main tasks: portfolio management including monitoring, relationship management and knowledge expertise. The aim is to stimulate and facilitate cooperation and dialogue between researchers and investigators and (commercial) parties.

What does the role of KWF and its programme coordinators mean for me as a researcher?

KWF programme coordinators are responsible for facilitating a specific theme or combination of themes. They actively monitor to identify bottlenecks and opportunities as soon as possible and, where possible, address them. They have a good overview of the field: they know what is happening, know the major players within their specific theme, the names of the researchers and research groups and companies and their respective expertise. As a result, they are able to act as a knowledge broker and they can encourage collaboration between different parties.

Researchers are well able to solve their own problems, but analysis has shown that there are bottlenecks and opportunities where KWF can play a role. This can be financially, by bringing parties together, or otherwise. KWF also has a very good overview of the oncology field in the Netherlands and therefore we can make special connections. KWF sees added value in facilitating the research field and is therefore better informed of the results and their impact on our mission goals itself. In addition, the general public wants to know what happens with the money they donate to KWF.

Which research themes do you have?

KWF has defined 10 research themes; each theme is managed by at least one programme coordinator. These are, respectively:

  1. Basic research
  2. Biomarkers
  3. Imaging
  4. Agents
  5. Immune response modifiers
  6. Interventive devices
  7. Lifestyle and exposure
  8. Quality of life/Quality of care
  9. Infrastructure
  10. Valorization

How will KWF monitor the funded research projects?

During the project, the programme coordinator will be in contact with the Project Leader to discuss progress on a regular basis where possible and necessary, to ensure progress. The idea is that the programme coordinators are going to give shape to a partnership with the researchers. For projects lasting for more than one year, a meeting with the programme coordinator and the project team will be organized at least once a year.

How does KWF see the role of the programme coordinator in case of a project within the Exploration track? To what extent can (s)he guide and accompany? And how can (s)he monitor if the direction of a project keeps changing all the time?

For projects within the Exploration track, fewer milestones will be agreed upon than for projects in the Development track. There will also be fewer contact moments than in the Development track, but there will be at least one contact moment per annum. It is expressly not intended that a new report has to be delivered with every new heading. The Project Leader has the freedom to make changes in the proposal as long as it stays within the framework of the research question. Major changes should be deliberated, just as before. Interaction with the programme coordinator is primarily intended to eliminate any bottlenecks and seize specific opportunities.

What does KWF mean by 'facilitate’?

In the context of the KWF PR&I facilitation means: provide facilities or make resources available (information, knowledge, network contacts with other researchers and (commercial) parties) to translate research results into the clinic faster and more often. The focus is on facilitating the research chain in the direction of practice; from laboratory to patient. It involves encouraging partnerships and dialogue with and between researchers and researchers and other (including private) parties. And to seize opportunities and tackle bottlenecks.

How often should I as a researcher share my research results with KWF?

There is no general answer because this is highly dependent on the track and the individual project proposal. Until now, there was a mid-project evaluation moment and a final report at the end of a project. Basic research will remain that way, because in basic research it is not easy to predict where a deployed route will lead. In basic research, there will be few milestones and reports will have the character of a progress report.

For projects within the Development track, there will be more evaluations. Occasionally KWF looks if a so-called milestone has been reached. KWF thinks that for a project lasting for four years, about 4 milestones should be defined and be reached, whereby at any time before the milestone would be achieved, there should be contact between KWF and the researcher to discuss whether the milestone is in sight and if there are bottlenecks to resolve. An example of this is the inclusion of patients. The law of Lasagna states that medical researchers are too optimistic in estimating the number of patients they can include in their research. As a result, projects fail or the statistical power is ultimately insufficient. KWF aims to resolve these and other issues where possible. It is all about thinking along with the researchers, with a shared interest to make research faster and more successful, with the ultimate objective to bring findings or inventions more quickly to practice and to the clinic.

Should I as a researcher share the results of my research with the general public?

Yes. Any time a researcher accepts money from KWF, (s)he has the obligation to participate in interviews, for example for a short movie, press release or article on the website. This is also stated in the funding conditions of KWF. It has always been that way and will remain the case in the new KWF PR&I.

How will the payments of the milestones be achieved?

The payment will be a lump sum on the basis of the project budget. Milestones can be regarded as a go / no go; payments will continue until there is a no go. So it's not necessarily the case that payment will stop on a go / no go moment, and resumes when a go is reached. In case of a no go, there will always be coordination with the members of the Internal Review Committee. KWF will certainly never decide this singlehandedly.

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Do you have a question? You can submit it through bestedingen@kwf.nl with the following subject line: Question PR&I: ‘your subject'. Or call the Scientific Review and Grants Administration: 0031 - 20 - 570 04 50.