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Project information

Pioneer Award

Our Pioneer Award funds innovative, higher risk ideas, from any discipline, that could revolutionise our understanding of cancer. It was created to encourage and support unique, out-of-the-box, high-risk but potentially high reward ideas, representing a potential paradigm-shift in cancer research.

Each Award covers two years' worth of research

Charity information: Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK logo
  • Need


    To beat cancer, we need to be bold and think outside of the box to find fresh ways of tackling the disease. This led to us launching our flagship programme for innovative research. The Pioneer Award funds short-term, cutting-edge projects that explore entirely new scientific approaches. They are a source of funding like no other, as nowhere else in the field of oncology can a visionary scientist go from the first seed of an innovative idea to being awarded funding in just four months.


    The Award scheme is high risk, high reward. We are aware that not all funded projects will succeed. What are hopeful for, however, is that for those which do succeed, they will transform and revolutionise our understanding of preventing cancer, diagnosing it earlier and/or treating cancer far more effectively.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To fund truly innovative, ground-breaking ideas which have the potential to lead to new discoveries


    » To achieve this, we welcome applications from individuals or teams, from any scientific background, with ideas from any discipline

    What success will look like

    Applications come from a range of areas. We assembled a high-calibre committee. They take a rigorous approach as to who they fund, ensuring that only the best science is funded.

  • Impact


    The Pioneer Awards was launched in November 2015. To date, 30 projects have been supported. Research takes time and so we are conscious that immediate impact may not be seen. By bringing in different scientists from different disciplines, however, we hope such collaborative effort speeds up research to reveal new angles and ways to beat cancer sooner.
    We ask all of our scientists to report to us continually throughout their research to ensure they are delivering what they set out to do.


    They key risk of which we are aware is the possibility that some of the Awards funded, do not meet their hypotheses.
    We try to mitigate this by funding the most promising of applicants thereby, ensuring that while some projects may fail, others will succeed. We ask the scientists to report to us throughout their research, enabling us to chart their progress. We also inform our supporters fully so that they understand risks, as well as brilliant successes, that will inevitably from the research.


    Throughout a scientist's two years' worth of funding, we ask them to report to CRUK on their progress. We then report on that progress to the donors through regular updates. We also encourage supporters to visit our labs, and often invite supporters to meet the scientists who they fund.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £200,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £200,000 A full Pioneer Award This is the amount it costs to fund a full Pioneer Award for two years.

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Funds from CRUK's supporters £100,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The Pioneer Award encourages applicants from across the country. To date, we have funded scientists at the universities of: Cambridge; Manchester; Birmingham and York to name a few.


    Cancer patients nationally as well as internationally. We have a global reach, with our scientists working in collaboration with other groups not just in the UK, but internationally too.
    We would like to think, therefore, that the positive outcomes and findings from the project will affect cancer patients across the world.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are best placed to drive forward such ambitious and forward thinking plans, having driven forward much of the progress in prevention, diagnosis and treatment over the course of the past century. From being instrumental in introducing screenings, to making significant contributions to half of the top 30 drugs worldwide, our research has helped double survival rates in just 40 years. We are at the forefront of cancer research and only fund the best science to achieve our goal of beating cancer

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Jill And Mick May

    Jill and Mick May are long-standing supporters of CRUK. They support, and are advocates for, the Pioneer Award