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The US National Cancer Institute’s massive portfolio contains roughly 1,800 inventions, but many of those new therapies and technologies aren’t improving the lives of patients with cancer. Ethics rules prevent NCI researchers from launching companies to develop new products, and existing biotech firms often aren’t willing to take risks on such early-stage research. In an effort to propel more of those inventions out of the lab and into the clinic, the NCI partnered with two nonprofits—the Avon Foundation for Women, the philanthropic arm of the New York–based beauty company, & the Center for Advancing Innovation, a public-private partnership aimed at advancing technology transfer—to launch a competition aimed at identifying entrepreneurs eager to develop these therapies and devices for women with breast cancer.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) hosted senior leaders and Federal innovators from across the federal government, including the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and United States Agency International Development (USAID) on Oct. 8 to celebrate five years of public-sector prize competitions and open innovation on Challenge.gov. In 2013, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in partnership with the non-profit Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI), and the Avon Foundation for Women launched a first-of-a-kind, international university-based competition through which 478 people were trained in the “business of science” and entrepreneurship. Through the creation of startup companies, the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge (BCSC) represented a new model to accelerate the transfer of federally funded inventions to the marketplace.
The Center for Advancing Innovation won the HHS Innovates Secretary’s Pick award for orchestrating the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge together with the National Cancer Institute and Avon Foundation.
The Breast Cancer Startup Challenge won the Federal Laboratory Consortium’s Technology Transfer Excellence award today. Thomas Stackhouse, Jenny Wong, Stephen Hewitt and Rosemarie Truman were at the event to receive the award. The challenge created a novel platform to advance breast cancer inventions by launching startups around 9 National Cancer Institute (NCI) inventions and 1 invention from Clemson University. The model can be used across Federal Labs to get more inventions commercialized. We’re currently running the Neuro Startup Challenge and hope to launch 1-2 more challenges in 2015, one with NASA.
Today, in celebration of National Entrepreneurship Month, the Administration is releasing a Top 10 list of President Obama’s most significant specific actions to promote American entrepreneurship, as well as announcing new efforts to build on these successes. The President’s unprecedented focus on the role of startups in the United States’ innovation economy is exemplified by his launch of Startup America in 2011, a White House initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the Nation.
The Breast Cancer Startup Challenge is recognized by the White House in “IMPACT REPORT: 100 Examples of President Obama’s Leadership in Science, Technology, and Innovation” under #36 of 100. On January 20, 2009, President Obama issued a simple and powerful pledge: to restore science to its rightful place. Coming into office, the President was committed to reinvigorating the American scientific enterprise through a strong commitment to basic and applied research, innovation, and education; to restoring integrity to science policy; and most importantly, to making decisions on the basis of evidence, rather than ideology.
The Nanotechnology Startup Challenge for Cancer employs a range of innovative strategies to bring cancer nanotechnology inventions to market. Nanotech Startup Challenge in Cancer launches to create new high-impact companies around promising nanotechnology cancer-related inventions. To support the United States as a nation of innovators, the Administration has introduced many tools to the Federal government’s innovation toolkit. As described in the Strategy for American Innovation, these tools are aimed at uncovering the best ideas, wherever they may lie & creating opportunities for those ideas to find their way to the marketplace.
This August a project will launch for matchmaking undiscovered intellectual property (IP) in oncology with talented management teams. The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) will start accepting applications for the initiative, known as the ‘Freedom from Cancer Startup Challenge’ (FCSC), designed to spur biotech startup creation around commercially viable cancer-related IP.
The Center for Advancing Innovation and its startup challenge model is featured in a GAO study to identify open innovation strategies to address complex and cross cutting challenges facing the federal government. The report identifies practices that help agencies effectively implement open innovation strategies, and how those strategies have affected agency performance. More on page 33 of the document.
“I’ve been in the field of philanthropy for almost 25 years. CAI’s model was one of the most innovative solutions for offering leverage to philanthropists I’ve ever heard of.”
“I judge thousands of pitches from entrepreneurs each year from GWU, DraperU, PitchForce, and UCSF. CAI produced startups who pitches were well done, prepared, and excellent.”
“CAI bringing together a powerful network of investors with significant capital means the world’s most game-changing organizations can flourish, building new business models.”