Striving for a cancer-free future

Venture Grants Scheme - Researchers


High risk, high reward cancer research

Cancer Council Victoria is relentless in our pursuit of breakthroughs. The Venture Grants Scheme is designed to support innovative researchers with courageous ideas who would not be able to attract conventional funding.

We are seeking the brightest cancer researchers who are willing to push the boundaries of conventional thinking to achieve major breakthroughs in cancer treatment and diagnosis.

Apply now


Research grants are encouraged from, but not limited to laboratory-based research. Innovative ideas are invited from the full spectrum of Victorian cancer research activity including psychosocial, palliative care, allied health, epidemiology, health economics, behavioural and clinical research.

Proposals must relate to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, supportive care or treatment of cancer.

Applicants must present a scientifically sound vision that if successful, would open the way for significant advances in cancer control.

Appropriately qualified researchers must conduct the research at a Victorian host institution (university, hospital, medical or scientific research institute). The first-named chief investigator must have an appointment at the host institute.

Applicants must be Australian citizens, or graduates from overseas with permanent Australian resident status.

Funding will not be granted to any researcher who is receiving or who is an applicant for funding from the tobacco industry or any of its agencies or subsidiaries.

Available funding

Four grants are available. Each grant will run for 1- 2 years with a maximum of $250,000 available per year, per grant.

Full funding is contingent on availability of funds. A pool of funding is currently available to allow the selected projects to commence. The remainder of the funds is yet to be raised by Cancer Council Victoria. Successful applicants will be asked to meet with prospective donors to assist in fundraising.

Key dates

Expressions of interest open:          Monday 15 July 2019

Expressions of interest close:          Friday 9 August 2019

Full applications open:                      Monday 9 September 2019

Full applications close:                      Friday 4 October 2019

Selection criteria

Up to four projects will be selected via a two-stage, competitive peer-review process.

The following criteria will be used to guide the Venture Grants Committee:

  1. Potential to change significantly our thinking about the causes, prevention, detection, treatment or management of cancers. We want big ideas about improving outcomes for cancer patients and/or benefits for the community at large.
  2. Demonstration of exceptional, novel or innovation in the approach and with sufficient risk as to make the application unlikely to be funded through conventional mechanisms.
  3. Demonstration of soundness of  hypothesis, rigour and appropriateness of experimental design.
  4. Appropriateness and clarity of the research milestones proposed to assess progress. The committee will need to assess if the project is well planned with clear research milestones articulated in the proposal. Each project will be monitored on the basis of expressed milestones and decisions to continue funding will depend upon meeting the milestones.

Host institution(s) support

The host institution guarantees that the infrastructure necessary to support the research will be available. The host institution also provides the resources for the administration of the grant.

Application process

Application guidelines are intentionally broad. You will have to articulate a case to be funded, and justify the budget requested. The amount required will depend on the proposal itself. There are no specific limits or guidelines, but amounts sought could be $100,000-$250,000 per year for 1-2 years. You will have to convince independent peers that the proposal could yield important new knowledge in your field.

The application process is conducted in two stages:

Stage 1

An expression of interest application can be found below. It includes a description of the proposal, what you see as the outcomes and how it might lead to a significant advance in cancer knowledge and supporting documentation such as Investigator CVs. This must be completed and submitted to Cancer Council Victoria by Friday August 9, 2019.

Expressions of interest applications will undergo assessment by the Venture Grants Scheme Committee.

Stage 2

Selected applicants will be invited to complete a full proposal (see below) with the assistance of a mentor from the Committee. The full proposal will include a more detailed budget and proposed milestones against which progress will be measured.

Up to four projects will be selected from the full proposals and a formal offer and funding agreement will be issued to the host institute.

Successful applicants will work with Cancer Council Victoria's fundraising team to meet with prospective donors to assist in fundraising.


Venture grants video

Projects of past recipients

Project one: Discovering new therapies to eradicate cancer stem cells

Associate Professor Mark Dawson


Associate Professor Mark Dawson, Dr Marnie Blewitt and Dr Chris Burns.

Project location

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

Project outline

"Only by peering into the mechanics of cancer initiation and progression will we uncover frailties that may lead to therapeutic progress." - Associate Professor Dawson

Download the first year project update

Project two: Identification of new therapeutic strategies for aggressive breast cancer

Professor Roger Daly


Professor Roger Daly, Professor Vinod Ganju, Cancer Council's Colebatch Fellow Associate Professor Sherene Loi, Associate Professor Kaylene Simpson, and Professor Christina Mitchell.

Project location

Monash University, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Victorian Centre for Functional Genomics.

Project outline

"We want to identify new personalised treatments by advancing molecular sub-classification of triple negative breast cancer - a world first." - Professor Daly

Download the first year project update

Project three: New treatments for multiple myeloma

Professor Ricky Johnstone


Professor Ricky Johnstone, Dr Jake Shortt, Dr Philip Thompson, and Professor Miles Prince.

Project location

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Project outline

"This entire project is blue sky, risky and highly ambitious. However, should we be successful in discovering biologically important targets, thousands of sufferers of multiple myeloma around the world will be the beneficiaries." - Professor Johnstone

Download the first year project update

Project four: Novel method to find genes that control cancer development

Professor Andreas Strasser


Professor Andreas Strasser, Dr Marco Herold, Professor, Jane Visvader and Professor, Geoffrey Lindeman.

Project location

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

Project outline

"We want to discover mechanisms that impose breaks on cancer development and expansion of malignant tumour cells in order to develop new therapies." - Professor Strasser

Download the first year project update

Support the Venture Grants Scheme

By supporting Venture Grants your generosity will:
  • Enable four world-class research teams to push the boundaries of cancer research
  • Change the way we think about the causes, prevention, detection, treatment and management of cancer
  • Support innovative projects with sufficient risk that are unlikely to be funded through conventional grant schemes.
As a supporter you:
  • Receive regular updates on the work and the impact of your support
  • Attend exclusive events, lab tours and receptions
  • Meet some of our world-leading scientists and their teams
  • Can link your donation to one specific project or your choice.

Contact Kristina Doucouliagos to discuss how you could ‘Be there at the Breakthrough' by supporting our Venture Grants Scheme.

Email or call +61 3 9514 6525.