A new tool for academic researchers that want to excel: The ttopstart Funding Model Canvas

Academia suffers from immense pressure these days: society wants to see value from tax money, researchers are forced to collaborate across sectors and research funds are more and more oversubscribed. The ttopstart Funding Model Canvas is designed to help scientists excel in this dynamic and highly competitive playing field, and get their research funded.

The ttopstart Funding Model Canvas

In line with the business model canvas, a widely-used tool by entrepreneurs, the ttopstart Funding Model Canvas revolves around a central proposition: the unique focus of the researcher. As in business, this proposition should be unique and visionary to stand out amongst the competition.

ttopstart funding model canvas categories

Any researcher should be optimally equipped to realise this research vision (left side of the funding canvas). This is where a researcher’s assets and network come into play and key strategic decisions need to be made:

  • What kind of people do I need?
  • What infrastructure should I invest in?
  • And what partners do I need to reach my goals?

On the other end of the ttopstart Funding Model Canvas (right side) you will find the necessities to leverage your research output into value for society, economy, the clinic and/or the rest of the scientific community (your output). There’s a remarkable distinction in how well highly successful research groups align their valorisation and communication strategies with their research focus and funding needs.

Key to all these activities are your ‘currencies’: high-impact papers and patents on the one hand and research funding on the other hand. Although obvious elements, the funding canvas helps to align these with all previous aspects that constitute a winning research strategy.

How to use the ttopstart Funding Model Canvas?

The ttopstart Funding Model Canvas is a key element of our PRO-ACTIV programme in which we train and coach individual researchers as well as research groups. It is an excellent tool for benchmarking and (creative) strategy development. Just draw the canvas on a whiteboard and start organising your thoughts and priorities using post-its!

Origin of the ttopstart Funding Model Canvas

ttopstart has supported hundreds of grant applications and has closely examined the performance of numerous research groups. This gave us key insights on how some groups outperform many others. Surprisingly, we identified strong parallels between top-performing scientists and entrepreneurs. Indeed, scientific success strongly relates to how adeptly researchers navigate complex stakeholder networks while pioneering unimaginable innovations – a process that closely resembles the challenges entrepreneurs face. These insights led to the development of the ttopstart Funding Model Canvas and several other key tools that can help to professionalise science.

Stay tuned for some sample case demonstrations on the ttopstart Funding Model Canvas by subscribing to the ttopstart Academy newsletter!

The ttopstart Funding Model Canvas is a derivative of The Business Model Canvas, by Business Model Foundry AG (strategyzer.com), and it is licensed under the Creative Common Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit: creativecommons.org


ttopstart can support your funding strategy, and help you and your research group set up a multi-year funding strategy. Contact us to find what we can do for you.