There are more than 150,000 inventions that are “sitting on the shelf – because of lack of funding, they’re not de-risked enough, or because they’re not ‘discoverable’ by oustiders,” said Rosemarie Truman, founder and CEO of the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI).
The Freedom From Cancer Startup Challenge (FCSC), introduced today at BIO, is CAI’s latest plan to advance and commercialize some of the most promising cancer breakthroughs born out of federal labs, hospitals and universities. Unlike traditional accelerator models, in which startup teams pitch judges and investors on their ideas, CAI is pitching them on 100 inventions for the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer. CAI will start sourcing multi-disciplinary teams for the challenge on August 1, in the hopes of spinning out 100 companies and creating 100,000 jobs dedicated to commercializing medicines that will, perhaps, free the world from cancer.
CAI is galvanizing the BIO community to participate in FCSC in several capacities, whether that’s coaching and mentoring teams, recruiting teams, providing subject matter expertise and even participating in the challenge themselves.
“Even getting a fraction of the most promising inventions out makes an impact on the GDP through knowledge-based jobs. Most important, though, is the social impact – saving and improving lives,” said Truman.
Truman added CAI’s challenge model has also helped create innovation hubs “in areas that didn’t have an entrepreneurial ecosystem at all.” She cited the example of the VABeachBio Innovation Challenge, an effort to strengthen the City of Virginia Beach’s biotechnology industry, while creating jobs and accelerating treatments for diseases that impact the City’s large concentration of veterans.
CAI continues to scale its challenges to other disease areas, and to spin out more companies. “We’ve created startups out of thin air,” Truman said, concluding “there’s always a way to get your invention out.”