Funding for research on new antiviral agents: Protection against future pandemics

With up to 500,000 euros, the Volkswagen Foundation is now supporting research projects at German universities that are dedicated to developing antiviral agents against new and little-researched viruses.

Illustration Menschen im Labor bei der Forschung zu antiviralen Wirkstoffen
The funding initiative 'Viral Zoonoses – Innovative Approaches to Drug Development' bridges the gap between high-risk basic research and practical application. (Design: Freepik

The new funding initiative "Viral Zoonoses – Innovative Approaches to Drug Development" builds a bridge between high-risk basic research and practical application. Close contact between the research groups and translational European companies will help to speed up the development of efficient therapeutics and ultimately a drug – so we will be better prepared for future pandemics.

Scientists worldwide are frantically searching for therapeutics and vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Further, previously unknown viruses could be transferred from animals to humans at any time and cause infectious diseases – zoonoses. With its new funding initiative "Viral Zoonoses – Innovative Approaches to Drug Development", the Volkswagen Foundation wants to make a proactive contribution to tackling this future risk.

"The coronavirus pandemic focuses attention on the virological research landscape in Germany," said Dr. Georg Schütte, Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation. "The lesson to be learned is that basic research and industry could work together in an even more interdisciplinary, agile and risk-taking way and be able react quickly to future pandemics. With this initiative, we target projects that pursue unusual, innovative approaches in attempts to develop new drugs".

The research proposals must already offer a recognizable potential for successful application and have already aroused suitable corporate interest. Research ideas from medical, synthetic and biochemistry, pharmacology, virology and virus immunology, veterinary medicine, molecular and structural biology or related fields are conceivable.

The deadline for submitting proposals is December 10, 2020.

Further information on the Volkswagen Foundation’s funding initiative "Viral Zoonoses - Innovative Approaches in Drug Development" can be found at