ttopstart co-developed the EU4Health proposal, provided support for grant agreement preparation and now advises EAU in project coordination and facilitates capacity building
The consortium of 25 institutions from 12 countries, coordinated by the European Association of Urology (EAU), embarked on yet another ambitious undertaking funded by the EU on April 1, 2023. PRAISE-U is an initiative for prostate cancer screening in the EU, among else aiming to raise awareness regarding prostate cancer, as well as the benefits of early prostate cancer detection. This ambitious three-year collaboration has been granted an amount of €9,85 million to design a nationally tailored cost-effective early detection algorithm for prostate cancer screening in the EU to reduce morbidity and mortality caused by prostate cancer, while avoiding overdiagnosis and overtreatment. The screening will be piloted in 5 EU regions, across 4 EU Member States.
About the PRAISE-U project
The project is led by the EAU, and specifically its Policy Office, represented by Prof. Hein Van Poppel (chair of the EAU Policy Office) and Sarah Collen (EAU Policy Manager). Prof. Hein Van Poppel and Sarah Collen are the driving force behind the EAU’s activities in Brussels. To achieve PRAISE-U’s goals, a multi-disciplinary consortium centered around Europe’s leading clinicians and researchers in prostate cancer has been established.
We started with the academic leadership team of ttopstart working on the proposal for the EU4Health programme. We had already an idea of the key partners and the strategic approach we wanted to take, but it was invaluable to consult with ttopstart team to ensure we were correctly aligned to the requirements of the call and to the eligibility criteria. – Sarah Collen, EAU Policy Manager
The consortium includes experts in prostate cancer and decision making, and a network of hospitals, medical societies, patient advocates and national authorities. ttopstart has supported the consortium throughout the entire lifecycle of the project – the proposal writing, grant agreement preparation phase, and is currently also advising on project coordination and facilitating EAU’s capacity building.
Now is the time: turning the tide on late diagnosis and rising mortality rates in prostate cancer
Cancer prevention and early detection offer the best chance of beating cancer and saving lives. The 2003 Council Recommendation on Cancer Screening in the Union5 endorsed population-based cancer screening for the early detection of breast, cervical and colorectal cancer.
The EU already provides guidance on screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. We are asking for prostate cancer to be added to the list. Multiple studies provide robust evidence confirming that early detection of prostate cancer saves lives and improves quality of life, and prostate cancer has been overlooked by the EU far too long. – Prof. Hein van Poppel, chair of the EAU Policy Office
In 2021, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan announced that the EU Cancer Screening Recommendations are being updated and after an 18-month scientific review process, the European Commission proposed that EU governments introduce population based early detection programmes for lung. prostate and gastric cancer. This would mean that EU member states will start to examine the possibility and feasibility of introducing prostate cancer screening in their own country, and that the EU will guide the process by developing common guidelines and quality assurance indicators.
On December 9, 2022, the EU Council gave green light for EU-wide guidance and collaboration on early detection of prostate cancer. This is a significant milestone for European urology. Getting prostate cancer on the political agenda has been one of the current priorities of the EAU Policy Office. Thanks to the perseverance of the team, the EC will assist EU member states to turn the tide on late diagnoses, and rising mortality rates. This will also limit the costs and harms of opportunistic screening (i.e., the opposite of organized screening).
Aligning prostate cancer screening approaches in EU Member States
The PRAISE-U project is a direct response to a call published by HADEA under the EU4Health programme. In direct partnership with a network of consortium members, PRAISE-U works to encourage early detection and diagnosis of prostate cancer in EU Member States.
The diagnostic pathway for prostate cancer has improved tremendously over the past decades. PRAISE-U marks a new era in early detection of prostate cancer. Through this project, we want to provide clear guidelines and quality assurance tools that can be used by pilot sites to demonstrate that risk-based approaches are effective, feasible, acceptable and cost effective. In our consortium, we have a strong partnership with the right mix of international academic experts, healthcare professionals, social scientists, economists, patients and health system pilot sites to make this a success. – Prof. Hein van Poppel, chair of the EAU Policy Office
The PRAISE-U project is broken down into six work packages (WPs). The four core WPs are designed to gather knowledge, develop protocols for screening programs, pilot test the developed protocols, and evaluate the results.
ttopstart lifecycle thinking
ttopstart has supported EAU and the consortium throughout the entire lifecycle of the project; From collaborating on writing the winning proposal, through managing the admin-heavy grant agreement preparation phase, all the way to providing advice in project coordination and compliance-related matters. The lifecycle approach offers great advantages on both sides. For the client, they feel they have a reliable and trustworthy partner for the entire journey ahead.
Team members were on hand to support us through every stage of the proposal writing process and to advise us on important issues such as budget discussions with potential partners.” – Sarah Collen, EAU Policy Manager
For ttopstart, this approach is well aligned with our strategy of bringing ideas to the points of impact. We are inspired by being the partner for our client through the thick and thin – building strong relationships, learning together, and witnessing patients’ lives being improved.
Academic and Programme Leadership team-up
PRAISE-U is a case in point for how the different ttopstart teams can collaborate and complement one another. The Academic Leadership team helps individuals and institutions to strategize and achieve long-term academic success. Among else, this is through the consultants’ expertise in building the winning projects and crafting winning proposals. With an impressive track record for several different grant schemes and armed with the FFWD methodology, the team supports clients in acquiring funds for their academic projects.
The ttopstart team’s support freed up our clinical experts – allowing them to focus on the important and most crucial scientific decisions that needed to be made. They ensured that the contributions from all WP leads fitted into a global and consistent proposal that gave a coherent and clear description of what we want to achieve and how we plan to get there. They also gathered together all the budgets received from partners and their organizational information and put them into the correct format for the grant. This was enormously helpful.” – Sarah Collen, EAU Policy Manager
For the Programme Leadership team, the focus is on the impact and on supporting with the project implementation, coordination, and the sustainability of the results. With unique skills, the team has the expertise to facilitate the productivity of projects, ensuring the projects are well managed and the administrative burden is taken off the client. The two teams tag-teamed throughout the lifecycle of PRAISE-U – Academic Leadership team kick-started the process by supporting on writing the winning proposal, with the Programme Leadership team taking over the race to aid with the admin-heavy grant agreement preparation:
Once we had the good news of the score in the evaluation and the success of the proposal, Ttopstart Programme Leadership were able to help us with the administrative elements of bringing all the consortium together to sign the grant agreement. This was really challenging in some moments as we have a number of partners who have no experience of EU funds, so it involved a lot of follow up. – Sarah Collen, EAU Policy Manager
Now the Programme Leadership team also provides support during the project’s duration:
Now the grant is implemented, we have Programme Leadership on board to act as a helpdesk for project coordination and also to perform capacity building of project partners and our own in-house Project Manager. This has been really helpful in terms of supporting the development of the project management plan for the grant, and in particular giving advice on financial management issues. We have a grant that is co-funded and only 80% is reimbursed by the Commission, which provides some challenges for the partners. – Sarah Collen, EAU Policy Manager
These collaborations are truly enriching, tying the teams together and allowing us to learn from one another.
We have collaborated with Academic Leadership for the proposal and the Programme Leadership for the grant agreement prep and project coordination. Simona Caputova was even on hand during her holiday to help get us through the final hurdles with the grant agreement which definitely went above and beyond the call of duty! They assist us with EU project management and the specificities of the EU funding and tender portal, which would have been extremely challenging for us without their support. – Sarah Collen, EAU Policy Manager
Ongoing partnership between EAU and ttopstart
ttopstart is delighted to have supported yet another project under the leadership of EAU. It’s truly inspiring to work side-by-side with the association, and to witness all the important initiatives coming to life. It is exciting to see how these are interlinked, create synergies, and build on one another. Such a lifecycle approach has already been applied for two other projects of EAU – IMI PIONEER and IMI OPTIMA. All of these research programmes contribute significantly to EAU’s Data Haven within the Evidence Hub, boosting the RWD research in the EU. The EAU Evidence Hub is designed for the collection, harmonisation and exploitation of data in a secure, federated and central manner. The PRAISE-U consortium now has the potential to build on top of these, providing an additional layer of real-world data and analyses, enriching the Data Haven further. The EAU’s Data Haven is already geared to prospectively collect PCa data on treatment, PROMS, PREMS and quality of life will ensure that long term outcomes of patients screened during PRAISE-U are captured beyond the grant period.
EAU’s vision is to improve patient outcomes, through fostering highest standards of urological care throughout Europe. While it is still a long path for these projects’ results to improve the outcomes for patients, ttopstart is delighted to be the partner that EAU can walk this path with.
ttopstart has supported us to produce excellent quality proposals – allowing us to focus on the science. Their deliverables and outputs have been extremely high quality, and we have built up trust with their team members who have delivered consistently for us. – Sarah Collen, EAU Policy Manager