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Your guide to 2024 Cancer Mission call topics – key Q&As for proposal success

24th May 2024 at 10:47 am

The EU’s Cancer Mission aims to improve the lives of more than 3 million people by 2030 through prevention and cure, and to ensure better and longer lives for those affected by cancer including their families. To help combat cancer and reverse the frightening increase of people affected by the disease, 119 million euro have been allocated to six new topics for new research and innovation actions (RIAs) as well as innovation actions (IAs) and coordination and support actions (CSAs) in the new Horizon Europe Cancer Mission Work Programme 2024. All calls are currently open and will close on 18 September 2024.

At the end of April, the European Commission hosted a two-day EU Missions and cross-cutting activities info event. During a two-hour YouTube-streamed Cancer Mission session, viewers had the opportunity to ask burning questions in dedicated Q&A sessions.

No time to watch the full recording? Do not worry, we bring you the most relevant Q&As to support you in your proposal writing

We at accelopment attended the session and are happy to share with you some of the most relevant general and call topic-specific Q&As.

General questions

How is the Cancer Mission related to Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan?
Both initiatives were developed in parallel and came to live in the same year and are fully complementary. Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is a policy initiative of the European Commission that includes 42 legislative and non-legislative policy actions to help state members improve cancer control. Missions were developed under HORIZON and focus on research and development to improve cancer care. Both are integrated through joint actions and governments.
Is there no topic dedicated to early TRL levels 1-4?
Usually, TRL levels are not mentioned in the Cancer Mission, but they have to be mentioned when talking about upscaling. Although not specifically mentioned, there are opportunities for early TRL. For example, in the call topic of AYA (01-05), at least one of the three main areas that can be targeted is understanding, and this could be translational research and hence low TRL. As well, topic 01-01 is all about basic research translation, better understanding childhood cancer aspects or any poorly understood cancer subtype, so there are a lot of opportunities there to address early translation research.
What is the page limit for the applications?
The page limit is 70 pages for topic 01 and 45 pages for topics 02-06.
How long are project periods?
It is up to the applicants to decide and justify the project length. There is no limitation on project duration unless mentioned in the call topic.

Call topic-specific questions

Does this call expect the consortium to develop a UNCAN platform from scratch based on the to-be-published blueprint?
UNCAN.eu is a flagship action, there have been several preparatory actions already funded and on which applicants can build. The blueprint is only one of them, it was produced by the CSA project 4.UNCAN.eu. It is not mandatory to follow it, it is just a suggestion, but consortia applicants are free to propose their way forward. Remarkably, when the blueprint was prepared, the European Health Data Space (EHDS) Regulation was not in place. Applicants for this call topic should have a look at these regulations.
Where can we find more information on other UNCAN initiatives apart from the 4.UNCAN project?
There are several initiatives described in the Work Programme. It is recommended also to check the deliverables of the European Health Data Space preparatory pilot project (HealthData@EU Pilot) since they have use cases on cancer. Another relevant initiative not mentioned in the Work Programme is the EU-funded project HealthyCloud.  
Is the dialogue towards the national cancer nodes limited to digital platforms or can national infrastructures be included?
Health data infrastructures should be involved in the dialogue. There will be differences between countries, so we cannot foresee a fixed list of actors involved, however, there are already suggestions in the call topic.  
Could you detail what “written commitment” from regions means?
When a region is going to be targeted (3 regions expected per proposal), evidence of their participation should be provided. This can simply be a letter signed by the authority you will be working with and is clearly described in the call topic.
Do piloting partners (e.g. hospitals) suffice for regional commitment or is regional authority to apply tests to the general population needed?
Indeed, if hospitals or cancer centres are in charge of regional healthcare, this could suffice. Also, any other regional authority that is linked to these hospitals could be a sufficient commitment, but there should be some evidence of that (by, for example, a simple letter where this is explained and signed).
How should policymakers receive the test programmes for early detection of heritable cancers?
Projects will carefully report what they are going to deliver (for example: deliverables, reports, publications). That is how test programmes could be delivered to policymakers. The joint publication of white papers by cancer clusters is strongly encouraged.  
Is there a minimum number of charities that should be involved? And what is defined as “across Europe”?
The minimum should be 3 charities from 3 different countries (please check the Annex of the Work Programme). “Across Europe” tries to address the issue of inequalities and equity, so the participation of charities from all the main areas (north, east, central, west and south) of Europe is expected.
How detailed should the pragmatic calls be?
At the time of submission, it is not necessary to have them fully defined, but there should be some idea of what will be addressed. The more information you have, the more convincing you can be at the time of submission to the group of independent experts, and hence the higher your chances of success. It is about creating a common understanding among charities on what pragmatic calls they would like to jointly fund.
Is it necessary to support pragmatic clinical trials with a network of registered charities or can others participate as well?
This topic focuses on bringing together charities, but it is not about registering a network of charities. Any individual charity can participate as long as they exist, as long as they are registered in a European country.
Should the two calls be on both rare cancer and OS <50% or can it be one on rare cancer and one on OS <50%?
In this case, charities can decide to come together on a translational call and focus only on rare cancers, focus only on 5-year overall survival <50%, or decide to address both. It is up to the applicants.
What is the minimum expected budget commitment per call (total)?
There is no minimum expected budget, it is up to the consortia. The money should be sufficient to run multicentric clinical trials, which are expensive.  
What is the definition of “late”? Are we talking about 2 years? 5-10 years?
This topic applies to patients in treatment and after treatment. Some of the treatments take > 5 years to complete, and there is no precise definition, but it should be around 1-2 years after cancer treatment.
Can charities participate in topic 5 on late AYA cancer effects understanding?
Yes, charities can participate.
Is the AYA topic focus limited to poorly understood cancers?
This topic addresses late effects at large and does not focus on poorly understood cancers. There are a lot of late effects that need to be addressed and they are independent of whether the cancer is poorly understood or not.
Could you please clarify the targeted age group within the definition of AYA?
The age range is described in the call topic. The definition has been extended up to 39 years of age because of the late effects that become only evident after adolescence.
Will only one exclusive AYA be funded? What about the others? Interested in mixed population ages or non-AYA at all?
Applicants should focus on one of the three given options. It is not necessary to target only one AYA-specific population. A mixed population would be fine, if well justified. Topic descriptions are rather broad on purpose to allow applicants to come up with new ideas, and choices should be justified.
Is topic 3 (management of late effects in AYA cancer) relying on setting up research (gaining knowledge e.g. on physiological burden) or is it focusing on developing interventions)?
It’s about developing interventions.
Is it necessary to deploy the ECPDC information portal also for the virtual assistant to support the quality of life of cancer survivors?
When dealing with evidence-based information, it is important to translate it into lay terms. This can be done with a virtual assistant. Therefore, in this call topic, we ask applicants to come up with ideas and test how this assistant can give information to users in an understandable way.
Where and when can we get the blueprints for ECPDC?
The blueprint is still being finalised and will be published soon on the EC website.

Ready to embark on the proposal writing journey? We are too!

At accelopment, we understand that navigating the intricacies of Cancer Mission proposal writing can be challenging and we are ready to support you every step of the way. Thanks to our 100% success rate scoring 15/15 on our two submitted proposals, ThermoBreast and GLIOMATCH, we have key knowledge to address the Cancer Mission specifics and enable the success of clustering activities in your project. With our extensive track record of Horizon Europe Health projects, including COVend, GENEGUT, EDiHTA, MyPath and EU PAL-COPD, which add up to even more Horizon 2020 Health initiatives, such as AI-MindENVISIONEURO SHOCKEXIMIOUS and VANGUARD, we are fully equipped to solve all your questions and support you in this exciting journey. Reach out and let’s submit a successful proposal together!

Dr. Eva Avilla Royo
Research & Innovation Project Manager