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Animal-free innovation becomes easier when you do it together with patients, doctors, researchers, financiers, health professionals and policy makers... That is precisely what happens during a helpathon. A helpathon is an innovation protocol: during two days an interdisciplinary team looks for animal-free ways to answer a research question. Look for more:

Do you share our ambition?

We want to accelerate animal-free innovation. We want to become less and less dependent on the use of animal models and we want to develop and apply research methods that are more relevant for human health and safety.

A Helpathon HELPS to organize COINCIDENCE
Our temporary innovation network "Innovative Health Research’ was commissioned by the Dutch Government to explore ways to accelerate animal-free innovations. For more information

The Helpathon is an essential cornerstone of the "innovation protocol" we propose to scientists, entrepreneurs, research funders, regulators, and policymakers. Encouraged by the initial results we continue to experiment with Helpathons and organize coincidence. There is no innovation without coincidence.

The more we know about a certain health aspect, the more opportunities we see for new, non-animal research methods to develop good medicines and therapies. Experience shows that animal-free innovation becomes easier, if you choose to do so together: with patients, doctors, health professionals, researchers, financiers, advisory committees and policy makers. And that is precisely what happens during a Helpathon.

"We have learned that perhaps less pre-clinical research is needed to complete our test of potential medicines in humans / patients. It is now clearer for us which steps need to be taken and that the use animals is not always necessary. Thanks to this TPI Helpathon we have gained new insights about existing in vitro / cell culture systems that we can to test our therapies. These models can give results that may be more relevant to humans than results obtained from laboratory animals."

We learned from our Helpathon experience that researchers are not always open to consider animal free methods even though they would prefer that. They have insufficient knowledge about the potential of new innovative models. They believe this limits their publication options. They lack the experience to enter into a dialogue with the regulator to plead for animal free research methods. They have insufficient motivation to develop, implement and optimize and to find the funds to finance the development of their new practice. The Helpathon can help them overcome these hurdles.

"We are going to set up new in-vitro models and existing in-vitro models for us further specific research. There are also financing options for that. We hope to be able to use this for this purpose and start working together with researchers we met during this TPI Helpathon."

Helpathon practice

At least 8 people and 24 hours
A helpathon should preferably take place for a minimum of 24 consecutive hours. Spending a night over it helps to process what you have thought up and what you have observed. A night's sleep also provides room for new insights or ideas. A helpathon takes place with at least eight people. That guarantees the dynamics.

The invitation
A helpathon starts with a good, clear and urgent question. It is important to formulate the right question in the right invitation in advance. To develop the framework within which the helpathon takes place. During a TPI helpathon, the research question is disconnected from the research method. A good research question is valuable in itself, just as a good research method is. Disconnecting these two issues creates more room for new research questions and research methods.

The opening phase
The opening phase lasts at least half a day and is based on Open Space Technology and therefore has no predetermined agenda. Everything that participants find really important in relation to the central question - the theme of the helpathon - is covered.

The make and try out phase
The phase starts with an "imagination in power" session, in which solutions are described as if they already exist. This phase is interrupted with a night's sleep. That is a natural way to filter ideas and reset information. The next day the ideas that last are tried out further.

Make communicable phase
The helpathon ends with a festive presentation of the results to those involved or interested people from the participants' network.

Join us!

Are you involved in health research? Would you also prefer to contribute to animal health free of animal testing? Are you curious about innovative research methods? And are you open to sharing knowledge? Then sign up for the next TPI Helpathon.

For more information contact our Helpaton team: or one of the Helpathon moderators:

Innovation network

Our network is part of the Dutch TPI program. Together with a wide range of partners from industry, policy, academics and NGOs the Dutch government started the Transition Programme for animal-free Innovations (TPI). This programme brings professionals and stakeholders from different sectors and fields together to discover and mainstream promising new ways of conceptualising and organising animal-free research. Further information