Transferring Biomedical Research to Patients Faster: ForTra gGmbH Announces Positive Funding Track Record

• Closing the gap between basic research and clinical application
• More than 50 percent of all funded projects received follow-up funding
Translational Research

Bad Homburg v.d. Höhe, April 23, 2024 - ForTra gGmbH für Forschungstransfer der Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (ForTra gGmbH), a non-profit arm of Else Kröner Fresenius Foundation, today published the successful track record of its latest funding projects. Since 2017, the organization has been supporting basic biomedical research projects in their efforts to accelerate their transfer into clinical practice. From 2017 to the end of September 2023, 31 projects were funded, of which 16 were able to secure follow-on financing from public funds, venture capitalists or similar organizations. More than a third (11) of the completed projects have already entered clinical development. One of the first funded projects, which is developing a new strategy for cancer therapy, led to the founding of a start-up company in 2020 and has succeeded in bringing their drug candidate into the final phase of clinical development (Phase III).

Other successfully continued projects include, for example, the development of switchable antibodies for cancer immunotherapy with significantly fewer side effects, a gene therapy to remove integrated HI viruses from blood stem cells and an app to better prepare patients for major surgical procedures.

The projects that received further support from third parties had been funded by ForTra with €12.4 million. They were able to raise follow-up funding of €128 million. Just over €100 million came from public funding programs and €25.5 million from private funds, i.e. from venture capital firms, private equity, or partnerships with industrial companies. As a result, the initial support provided by ForTra enabled the raise of ten times the original funding amount.

"This is a very positive outcome of our funding initiative," said Prof. Dr. Martin Zörnig, Managing Director of ForTra. "The fact that so many projects reached the clinic and were able to secure follow-up funding shows the successful implementation of our goal to make new research results available to patients in a significantly shorter time frame. In Germany, there is unfortunately a large gap between successful basic medical and scientific research and its application in everyday clinical practice. We want to change this, thereby realizing an important goal of EKFS founder Else Kröner".

Prof. Zörnig added that ForTra has approximately 6.6 million euros at its disposal to spend in 2024. Funding will be provided to projects from research institutions that are ready for clinical testing and have already overcome initial development hurdles. "These projects often face specific problems and challenges, e.g. validating their medical approach or medical product, financing a key experiment, or obtaining specific support in project development and the transfer of technology and knowledge," explained Prof. Zörnig. "Around €2.5 to 3 million of our annual budget is reserved for the GMP production of clinical trial material. This is a statutory requirement for the approval of subsequent clinical trials and is particularly expensive."

Researchers working at academic research institutions (clinics, research institutes, etc.) or other non-profit scientific institutions are eligible to apply for non-profit funding from ForTra.

ForTra gGmbH für Forschungstransfer der Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (ForTra gGmbH)
ForTra gGmbH is a subsidiary of Else Kröner Fresenius Foundation (EKFS), a non-profit organization under German tax law. The purpose of the organization is the promotion of medical science and research as well as the promotion of public health by supporting the transfer of medical research results into clinical application for the benefit of patients and public health care.

Scientific contact person:
ForTra gGmbH
Prof. Dr. Martin Zörnig
Managing Director
Phone: +49 6172 8975-12

Else Kröner Fresenius Foundation (EKFS) - Advancing research. Helping people.
Else Kröner Fresenius Foundation is a non-profit foundation dedicated to the funding and advancement of medical research and the support of humanitarian projects. To date the foundation has funded around 2,600 projects. With an annual funding volume currently amounting to over 70 million euros it is the largest foundation in Germany that actively funds and supports medicine. You can find more information at:

Press contacts:
Else Kröner Fresenius Foundation
Bianka Jerke
Press and Public Relations
Phone: + 49 6172 8975-24

Dr. Ludger Wess / Ines-Regina Buth
Managing Partners
Phone: +49 40 88 16 59 64
Phone: +49 30 23 63 27 68

Portrait Prof. Dr. Martin Zörnig
Prof. Dr. Martin Zörnig
Managing Director ForTra gGmbH für Forschungstransfer der EKFS