Oncode Institute: how design helps speed up cancer research

A collaboration between top level cancer researchers and Dutch digital agency Momkai aims to speed up cancer research. ‘It is very special to be part of such a noble initiative,’ says Martijn Tiemersma, senior strategist at Momkai

Earlier this month Her Majesty Queen Maxima launched Oncode Institute in Amsterdam. This independent institute, basically an online platform connecting some 600 top scientists in the Netherlands, is dedicated to understanding cancer and translating research into practice faster.

For the past two years, Amsterdam-based digital agency Momkai has been working on the identity, positioning and online platform of the institute. The Oncode Institute brings together top scientists in a unique knowledge community. Their common goal: helping more patients survive, improving the quality of life for those afflicted, and ultimately curing cancer.

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General director Ton Rijnders welcomes Her Majesty Queen Máxima – Photo by Bas Losekoot for Oncode Institute

120 million euros

The Dutch Cancer Society, government and several research funds guarantee the funding of 120 million euros in the next five years. This gives the selected scientists the opportunity to fundamental research and share the findings in the Oncode network.

Scientists do work together already, Momkai’s Martijn Tiemersma admits. ‘The difference is that the researchers don’t have to seek funding for the research they want to do. It means they’ll have room to really look at the essence of things, if necessary five years long. And they can work with anyone within the network. Also, the Oncode Institute has a huge valorisation team ready to help the scientists test their findings in practice. It means that the steps from research to patient will take less time.

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Decoding DNA

Momkai designed Oncode Institute from the ground up: from its name to the full identity, from the tagline to the founding principles book, from the digital platform to the royal launch event. ‘Cancer research nowadays is all about decoding DNA,’ Tiemersma says. ‘Both the name and logo refer to this. The dynamic logo represents the complexity of cancer. It shows the gaps in the codes that are used to visualize cancer and also the constantly changing nature of cancer.’

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Cultivating calm

The website follows the design philosophy Momkai also uses for De Correspondent, the platform for independent journalism the agency co-founded. It’s the philosophy of ‘cultivating calm’ as Momkai’s founder Harald Dunnink pharsed it. Just like it did for De Correspondent, Momkai created for Oncode Institute a rich platform that exudes calm.

Tiemersma: ‘What we’ve made so far is a good and solid website that presents the information in a nice and easy to read manner. We will probably add a closed part for the scientific exchange, but most important is that the platform and its design creates a sense of belonging and connection. The main goal of the virtual platform is to be supportive of the exchange.’