Animal-free innovations

We want to contribute to the high quality and great relevance of innovative (bio)medical research. We therefore encourage the development, acceptance and implementation of animal-free innovations. In doing so, we strive to achieve better results for humans and, ultimately, better treatments and drugs.

What are animal-free innovations?

Animal-free innovations are research methods in (bio)medical research that are based, or focused, on people and therefore animal-free. One such example is organoids: three-dimensional mini organs that consist of various types of cells that jointly have similar properties to the human organ from which they have been isolated, for example the intestines or skin. Consequently, they are valuable and representative models for research. With these human measurement models, we can conduct better and more personalised research into the development and treatment of diseases.

Why are animal-free innovations important?

In previous centuries, animal experiments have made a major contribution to understanding the functioning of our body, how diseases arise and how these can be treated. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that many new treatments that are effective in experimental animal models work less well or even not at all in people. As a result, serious efforts are being made to find new methods and models that yield results that can be better translated to people, such as animal-free models. In many cases, these models provide more relevant research results for people and will reduce the number of experimental animals used. In addition, we consider it ethically right to use as few animals as possible for scientific research.

How do we encourage animal-free innovations?

ZonMw encourages animal-free innovations by funding research into the development of animal-free models and by bringing parties into contact with each other. We also encourage the acceptance and implementation of animal-free or human measurement models in research practice and are active in the debate concerning animal experiments and animal-free research. In addition, we also focus on the more effective use of results from animal experiments by increasing the findability and reusability of these.

Our initiatives and funding possibilities

With the ZonMw programme More Knowledge with Fewer Animals we encourage the development, findability, (re)usability, acceptance and implementation of animal-free innovations. We realise this programme on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

The MKMD Initiative Create2Solve focuses on developing and applying animal-free innovations through close collaboration between public and private parties.

With the modules Realising systematic literature reviews of animal studies and Publishing negative/neutral results from animal experiments, we encourage more impact of and transparency in animal research.

We realise the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) programme Animal-Free Models: acceptance and implementation, which focuses on the acceptance and implementation of existing animal-free innovations.

Collaborating and connecting

ZonMw is one of the partners of the national initiative Transition Programme for Innovation without the use of animals (TPI). The ambition of TPI is to ensure that the Netherlands becomes a frontrunner in the international transition to innovation without the use of animals.  

The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality directs the TPI trajectory in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, and the Ministry of Defence. With our programmes and initiatives, we contribute to the objectives of TPI.

We also work together with the following organisations and initiatives:

Exploring and setting the agenda

We strive to connect people and organisations who can work together on relevant societal and scientific issues in the area of research, medical care and health. We map the fields where the quality of scientific research can be advanced without the use of animal experiments.