Despite survival rates of cancer patients improving dramatically over recent decades, young people 16 – 25 are counted as having the lowest rate of survival. Alarmingly, less than 6% of all cancer research funding is applied to youth cancer research, where vital breakthroughs can stop our young people from being lost.

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Incredible breakthroughs have already been made with the application of Virtual Reality (VR) to cancer research from the immersive 3D mapping of tumours that open up collaboration for researchers, to innovating surgery techniques and even supporting patients with pain management. Imagine a world where this game changing technology is the lynchpin to finding the cure. 

In an Australian first, Sony Foundation Australia, the charity arm of Sony group of companies, and Australian cancer research charity, Tour de Cure have joined forces with an AU$500,000 funding grant for a brilliant idea combining the research and development of Virtual Reality Content to be used for the benefit of youth cancer patients.

The adoption of virtual reality (VR) technologies to provide innovative frameworks for research and collaboration is accelerating at rapid pace around the world. In an Australian first cooperative development, Sony Foundation will partner with Tour de Cure to make available grant funding to qualified research organisations to support innovative research in the application of VR technology drawn from industry in the area of cancer research, treatment or care.


Project Description:

Sony Foundation, the charity arm of the Sony Group in Australia, will take the lead in supporting innovative projects that use VR technology in cancer research, cancer treatment and the support of cancer patients and their families. In an Australian first, Sony Foundation and Tour de Cure, one of Australia’s leading cancer research fundraising organisations, will partner to award up to $500,000 to fund the research, and a further $20,000 funding for the VR content creators to be used for the benefit of youth cancer patients.


Virtual Reality has already made the impossible, possible. The immersive technology is in active use around the medical world on projects that make a difference, such as helping the blind see, managing chronic pain and enabling scientists to walk around inside cancer cells to investigate their projects at a much deeper level than ever before.

This truly unique research grant will require the close collaboration of traditional cancer research organisations with virtual reality content creators from the technology and interactive media industry to take the application of VR beyond pain management and distraction techniques and into a completely new realm.


The winning grant application will propose an innovative approach to applying Virtual Reality technology to deliver insightful research with a view to discover ground-breaking and translatable outcomes to assist young cancer patients.  Possible areas of research to include, but are not limited to:

  • assistance in the understanding and diagnosis of underlying cancer pathologies;
  • assistance in the treatment of cancer;
  • enhancement of treatment compliance;
  • assistance with pain management or rehabilitation;
  • enhancement in the provision of survivorship strategies;
  • education of young people with respect to cancer prevention strategies.

This program will operate in addition to the normal annual Tour de Cure grant application program.

Grant Process:

  • Formal Announcement of the Sony Foundation Virtual Reality Cancer Program took place on Saturday June 23 at the Tour de Cure’s annual fund raising Snow Ball, held in Sydney
  • Grant Applications will be open to prospective cancer research organisations starting Monday, July 2, 2018 and will remain open until Friday, September 28, 2018
  • A joint multidisciplinary Evaluation Committee comprised of the Tour de Cure Research, Support and Prevention Committee and representatives of Sony Foundation, Sony Interactive Entertainment (UK) (SIE), Sony Global (US) will evaluate all applications
  • Depending on the applications received total funding in the order of $500,000, and a further $20,000 funding for the VR content creators; this may comprise one or more projects
  • Announcement of successful applicants will be made in November, 2018

Application Timing:


Applications open: Monday, July 9, 2018

Closing Date: Close of Business, Friday, September 28, 2018

Announcement Date: Thursday, November 29, 2018




Applicants will need to:

  • Submit an application using the approved form by the set deadline
  • Provide an ABN showing Item 1 under the Deductible Gift Recipient Status
  • Specify the CSO (Common Scientific Organisation) identifier
  • Identify the type of cancer(s) being targeted as per the normal Tour de Cure categorisation process.
  • Specify the relevance to cancer, diagnosis or treatment as it relates to the youth population
  • Demonstrate ability to meet technical requirements of using VR technology and content with a protoype (rough/whitebox that demonstrates the key mechanics)
  • Provide an accompanying brief video (2-3 minutes) to explain the proposed project via YouTube or Vimeo link (this video may be recorded on a smart phone and comprise an explanation in layman’s terms of what the project involves and what you hope to achieve by virtue of the funding)
  • Commit to the reporting conditions attached to the Grant



Applications will be assessed based on the following criteria (and weighting) :

  • Project and Scientific Quality [1] – 35%
  • Project Significance and Innovation [2] – 35%
  • Likelihood of success[3]  – 30%


While relevant publication record of the applicant researcher will be considered, this will be just one of the criteria reviewed in assessing ‘Likelihood of success’[4].

Technical Collaboration Requirements:

This unique program will require the close collaboration of traditional cancer research organisations with technology partners from industry who will work with the researchers to provide relevant VR content and capability.

It is incumbent on the applicant to ensure that the final output from the project is designed to be used in conjunction with, but not limited to, Sony PS VR. This will require the VR developer engaged to have approved access to the Sony PS VR Dev Kit.

Applicants may already have technical expertise or partnerships you want to engage however, if not already, they will need to become Sony approved partners. They can do this by applying here and following the instructions.

It is not necessary that technical support come from applicants organisations. Sony Foundation and Tour de Cure can provide a means for cancer research organisations to identify qualified VR content creators with whom they may wish to collaborate should they not already have relationships.

For a full list of qualified VR Developers please contact Sony Foundation –

Key Technical contacts:

If you are a Cancer Researcher – please contact Sony Foundation – for a full list of qualified VR Developers.

If you are an approved Sony PS VR developer and wish to be added to the list, please contact

If you are not an approved Sony PS VR Developer, but wish to attain approval to access the dev kit, please visit and submit the application and alert


Cancer Research Organisation Collaboration:

It is open to two or more cancer research organisations to collaborate in this program. This may include international research organisations. Note however that funding can only be made to a lead research organisation which is an Australian body providing an ABN showing Item 1 under the Deductible gift Recipient Status.

All arrangements for collaboration with other research partners will be the responsibility of the lead organisation.

Application Process:

  • Grant Applications will be open to prospective cancer research organisations starting Monday, July 2, 2018 and will remain open until Thursday, September 27, 2018
  • A joint multidisciplinary Evaluation Committee comprised of the Tour de Cure Research, Support and Prevention Committee and representatives of Sony Foundation, Sony Interactive Entertainment (UK) (SIE), Sony Global (US) will evaluate all applications
  • Depending on the applications received total funding in the order of $500,000 will be available; this may comprise one or more projects
  • Application Form will be made available here as of July 2, 2018
  • Announcement of successful applicants will be made in November, 2018


Reporting Obligations:

We will looking for regular reports back from the successful applicants as the work progresses and as final outcomes are determined. Detailed will be specified in the Application.


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Sony Foundation and Tour de Cure see this as an innovative way to bring the combined capabilities of the Australian cancer research community and industry to bear on the diagnosis and treatment and support of youth facing cancer. We encourage you to consider your involvement in this program.


Thank you.




About Sony Foundation: Sony Foundation’s mission is to capitalise on the unique qualities of Sony and contribute to the advancement of the Australian community by assisting youth and fostering their talents. Through its fundraising and activities, Sony Foundation is affirming the global unifying brand message that drives Sony: believe that anything you can imagine, you can make real. The Sony companies contribute to the administrative costs of the Foundation, allowing the net proceeds of funds raised to be distributed in full to all of its youth-focused causes. Sony Foundation is not only about giving a donation, its role is to facilitate engaged philanthropy. It is about becoming the voice of our young people; the champion of the cause; the answer to the gap in the system. Since 1998, driven by the vision of helping young people, the Foundation has provided opportunities, support and assistance to thousands of young Australians. Sony Foundation partners with existing charities as well as initiating a number of unique campaigns, all of which aim to offer solutions to some of the problems young people in Australia face today. Sony Foundation Australia is a company limited by guarantee and registered under the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991, and is exempt from income and sales tax. All donations are fully tax deductible.

About Tour de Cure: Through magical, challenging and inspirational tours and events across Australia, Tour de Cure raises money to fund the boldest research, the most talented scientists and the groundbreaking projects that will have the biggest impact on cancer. Tour de Cure seeks to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of operations and the research funded, while focusing on its overall mission to cure cancer. With the efforts of thousands of volunteers within the ‘Tour De Cure family’ and the invaluable support of outstanding corporate partners, Tour de Cure has raised more than $40 million, funded 306 cancer projects and 24 significant cancer breakthroughs since starting in 2007. Tour de Cure has also helped to raise awareness about cancer prevention through programs delivered to more than 120,000 school children across Australia. Tour de Cure is a registered Australian Tier 1 Charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.



Evaluation Committee Members


Tour de Cure:


“We’re delighted to be working with Sony Foundation on this exciting program. This is an excellent example of how industry and the research community can collaborate to create new frameworks and funding for vital cancer research.” 

Paul Mirabelle, Chair, Research, Support and Prevention Committee, Tour de Cure


“It is important to see industry and medical research collaborating to fund new and innovative initiatives in medical research such as this.”

Chuck Bailey, PhD Senior Research Officer Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Centenary Institute


Sony Foundation:


“We identified a unique role that Sony Foundation could play in bringing together cancer researchers and the best in the VR tech industry globally.  We hope that we will uncover a brilliant idea to fund the application of VR to support youth cancer patients that hasn’t been seen before.  And, we are excited to foster new networks for collaboration between some of the leading VR developers around the world with cancer researchers to ignite future interest and investment in this type of game-changing research.”


Sophie Ryan, CEO Sony Foundation




    Project and Scientific Quality: Includes assessment of Application Quality (presentation of scientific background, objectives and content (research proposal/hypothesis)), Methodological Approach (relevance of the proposed methods to answer the hypotheses and scientific questions, including the breadth of the methodological approach and level of effort) and Project Feasibility (including the budget being realistic and sensible).

[2] Project Significance and Innovation:

    Includes assessment of Originality (does the research project contribute to significant theoretical and/or methodological advances and/or development of new scientific knowledge and practices in the field?), Insight Generation (including the potential for developing new insights, capabilities and/or treatments), Impact (including translatability), and Dissemination (commitment to communication and sharing of results).

[3] Likelihood of Success:

      Incudes Quality of Team (assessment of qualifications of lead researcher and project teams, technical partner(s), other collaborating research organisations). This will include assessment of the lead researcher’s expertise and experience within the field of research. This criteria will also review quality of the Organisation (the degree to which the research team is part of a research environment that has the competence and required resources needed to ensure the success of the project), Experience (the lead researcher’s relevant publication record and other evidence of relevant experience) and Collaboration (demonstration of interdisciplinary cooperation and international cooperation, when relevant). This will include specific assessment of the technical merit of the application given the focus on VR content. 


          Note that Tour de Cure is a signatory to the Declaration on Research Assessment. Signatories to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) are committed to assessing the quality and impact of scientific research through means other than journal impact factors. See

         for more information.