The Tilburg University Fund Foundation is committed to small and large research projects addressing societal issues. We provide financial support to fund research into improvements in the resilience, care, and wellbeing of individuals and society, the responsible use of data, and smart solutions in the digital age.

Sustainable Development Goals

A number of these projects contribute substantially to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals(new window) (SDGs). The specific SDGs are listed for each project.

Donations and grants

We have been able to contribute to the funding for the following projects thanks to one-off, regular, and large donations to the University Fund. For each project, we indicate how much was donated to the project, or when the grant was provided through donations from the phone campaign. We also state how much grant has been paid out.

Donations received

Grants awarded

Named fund

Zero Hunger Lab



An end to hunger in the world – one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Tilburg University is contributing to this objective through the Zero Hunger Lab. The Lab’s researchers use data science in pursuit of global food security: Bytes for Bites. They do this by helping aid and development organizations, businesses, governments, and knowledge institutions working for a world without hunger to make smart use of mathematics and algorithms. The donations have made it possible to provide data science training for East African agronomists in South Sudan and Somalia. This training is provided as part of the NUFFIC Horn of Africa Food System Resilience project: Making Horticulture Work for Healthier Diets and Income Generation in Protracted Crises. In this project, the Zero Hunger Lab is working with Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation to strengthen communities in the Horn of Africa and prevent famines. A tailor-made video course was produced for the participants enabling them to better interpret and analyze data.

Digitization of Liberian Society

Annual fund


Digitization is having a far-reaching impact on the way in which people in Sub-Saharan Africa organize their work, social relations, and leisure time. And yet very little research has been carried out on this fast-growing region. That is a shame, because the impact of digitization is huge. Moreover, this impact is often at odds with local traditions. Euriahs Togar, a Tilburg University alumnus, is studying the implications of digitization for the citizens of Liberia. With the grant from the University Fund, Euriahs is able to fund his research and travel so that he can carry out his work under the guidance of his supervisors, Dr. Mariek Vanden Abeele and Professor Marjolijn Antheunis.

Do flex work contracts lead to financial instability?

Annual fund


Flex work contracts, such as zero-hours contracts, have become much more common in the Netherlands over the last ten years. By 2019, 1.9 million people were employed on what could be considered flex work contracts. What is the relationship between growing flexibility in working hours and individual decisions about spending and saving? Does it lead to financial instability? And what effect does flex work have on households? With the aid of a large data set from Statistics Netherlands (CBS), Dr. Burak Uras is working with other researchers to map out the effects of such contracts. The researchers hope to be able to make important policy recommendations based on this study. Part of the empirical study uses three exogenous events: the 2007/2008 financial crisis, the eurozone debt crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the researchers focused on how flex workers deal with debts and assets. Initial results show among other things that flex workers save relatively more than permanent employees. 

Data science for humanitarian resources



Professor Conny Rijken is conducting the first research funded entirely by donors. The “Data science for humanitarian innovation” study provides a better understanding of victimmigration, the traumas experienced by refugees during their journeys. This study makes it possible to take greater account of victimmigration in refugee policy.

Better treatment outcomes for young cancer patients with app

Annual fund


Adolescents and young adults experience cancer during an important stage of development in their lives: completing a degree program, finding their first job, buying a house, starting a family. The treatment and long-term effects of cancer can disrupt the achievement of these milestones. This project focuses on relieving symptoms of the disease and improving quality of life for these adolescents and young adults. Studies have shown that online symptom monitoring can have an immensely positive effect on quality of life. Among other things, it can reduce the severity of the symptoms, shorten their duration and cut hospitalizations. This project is creating a symptom monitoring app to be made available to every cancer patient who wants to use it. Some delays were encountered in the building of the app in 2021. This is due to a shortage of IT staff in the firm building the app and the fact that the app will be built in a new system. Another cause of delay is the fact that a number of academic centers also wish to participate in the research.

Frightened of needles? Now there’s an app for that

Annual fund


Vaccination against COVID-19 got under way in the Netherlands in 2021. Many people have also had a booster. The vaccination came as a relief to many, but an estimated 35% of the population suffers from needle phobia. Dr. Elisabeth Huis in ‘t Veld drew on her research to develop a game app using thermal imaging of the face to predict whether someone will faint. The idea is that people will download the game and play it in the waiting room just before the injection to relieve their stress. During the game the algorithm checks for any signs of anxiety or faintness. The application uses the selfie camera to monitor changes in a person’s face, such as turning pale. Playing this game before being vaccinated makes people calmer during the injection. The app is the basis for the AINAR start-up that is also receiving support from Sanquin and Iqonic, the “entrepreneurs hub” at Tilburg University. In 2021, this research came second in the voting for the Klokhuis Science Prize. This prize is awarded for scientific research that is relevant and interesting to primary school children. The winning study, by Utrecht researchers Dr. Marion Sommers-Spijkerman and Dr. Anita Beelen, focused on how to cope if one of your parents has ALS.

Virtual poetry experience in the classroom

Annual fund


What will teaching and learning look like in the future? How should we use digital technologies, such as virtual reality, to improve education? This project provides some answers to these questions. High school students and reading – still a challenge for many. Perhaps technology can help to change that. For example, virtual reality enables a reader to become part of a story or poem. Smartphone apps can make a story interactive by inviting the reader to take decisions about the narrative. This study gives us an understanding of the extent to which using digital literature in high school language and literature classes captures students’ attention better and positively influences their reading skills. A research assistant was hired with a grant from the University Fund. She has now developed a series of lessons and will be conducting the research at a number of high schools in the Tilburg area.

Social start-ups



Entrepreneurship is an important theme of Tilburg University. Under the IQONIC label, Tilburg University represents and supports all aspects of entrepreneurship. This project helps our students, alumni, academics, and staff to further develop their entrepreneurial mindset so that they can make a difference in society.

The Tilburg University Fund Foundation aims to help these socially responsible entrepreneurs to launch their idea or business successfully. These are start-ups that deserve to be successful in our community because they have an impact on society. Funding was provided in 2021 for a project run by students developing a prototype help chatbot.

Refugee scientist resumes career

Annual Fund


A scientist who is eager to resume his career after he suddenly had to flee his homeland. His precarious situation means that he wishes to remain anonymous, but he is happy to share the story of his success in getting a job at the university. He has been employed by Tilburg University since May. Thanks to Tilburg University and the Tilburg University Fund Foundation he is now working at Tranzo on his first publication in the Netherlands.

The public importance of religion


I'm going to investigate why many spiritual people are prone to conspiracy theories. Who are they? And what is the basis of their beliefs? 

Dr. Suzanne Klein Schaarsberg



In 2021 the Tilburg University Fund Foundation received a large donation of €100,000 from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. This donation is intended for research into how spirituality becomes an expression of anti-institutional politics. Suzanne Klein Schaarsberg will begin the research in September 2022. She will investigate why many spiritual people are prone to conspiracy theories. It will be a combination of sociological and theological research. Who are these people? And what is the basis of their beliefs? Is it, for example, a fusion with Christianity, colonialism or Eastern philosophies?