CancerX Startup Accelerator launched with White House support

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Cancer Research Startups Innovation

The first-ever national cancer innovation accelerator initiative has been given public support from the White House.

CancerX is a public-private partnership announced by The White House as a national accelerator to boost innovation in the fight against cancer as part of the reignited Cancer Moonshot.

Co-hosted by Moffitt Cancer Center and Digital Medicine Society (DiMe), it cites its purpose as bringing together a number of stakeholders to 'unleash the power of innovation to fight cancer'.

Co-hosted by Moffitt Cancer Center and the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe) alongside the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, the program was launched at the Future of Cancer Care summit in Tampa, US, on November 9.

Leading cancer organizations

Through the program, promising startups will be given the opportunity to collaborate with leading cancer organizations, which aim to strengthen digital innovations in oncology.

Startup participants benefit from valuable mentorship, training, and direct access to key players in the healthcare industry, including providers, payers, and pharmaceutical companies. This collaborative environment enables startups to develop, test, and implement their cancer-focused innovation on a larger scale.

“We are excited to officially launch the CancerX Accelerator program, as we have identified several themes as part of CancerX that will enable and advance the goals of the Cancer Moonshot,” said Edmondo Robinson, Moffitt’s chief digital officer.

“The accelerator is focusing on a subset of these themes based on CancerX members’ input as well as unmet needs being faced by cancer patients today. We anticipate focusing on different themes for every cohort, covering all the main objectives of the Cancer Moonshot over time.”

CancerX champions

The accelerator will select its inaugural cohort of approximately 15 to 20 companies to start in March 2024. The program will last four months. Applications may be submitted throughout December. The selection process occurs in three stages, in partnership with MassChallenge HealthTech Accelerator.

In the first stage, companies will be evaluated for ‘fit’ with a focus on the five themes for the accelerator. These are clinical research, screening and diagnosis, treatment and management, clinical operations, and patient/caregiver/survivor experience.

During the second stage, CancerX members and champions will judge the applicants on several parameters, including business viability, desirability, and feasibility.

Finalists will be presented to the accelerator selection committee and accelerator champions. Selection committee members will be able to sponsor one or more companies. All finalist companies who receive sponsorship from at least one of the champions or selection committee members will be accepted into the final cohort.

Collective experience and lessons learned

“As the designated federal leads for CancerX, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health are excited to use their collective experience and lessons learned designing and executing other public-private partnership accelerators under the InnovationX model, to help shape the design and structure for this first of its kind program,” said Stephen Konya, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT Senior Advisor and Innovation Portfolio Lead.

“We see this effort as an opportunity for the entire federal government to engage in a strategic, meaningful way with a diverse, highly collaborative, motivated and welcoming cancer innovation ecosystem to tackle our shared goal of accelerating the efficient development and adoption of promising digital health tools in the field of oncology.”

In addition to the co-hosts, several champion members will offer benefits directly to selected startups, ranging from investments, pilot opportunities, professional services, as well as access to end-users and mentors.

Debiopharm innovation fund

The CancerX Startup Accelerator was also aided by Debiopharm’s innovation fund. The independent biopharmaceutical company based in Switzerland focuses on drug development, drug manufacturing, and digital health investment. It uses its corporate fund to invest and provides strategic guidance to startups.

“We are excited to champion this important initiative as a strategic venture partner and to offer a warrant for an investment to up to five startups that align with our investment thesis of accelerating the translation of cancer research into cancer care through disruptive digital innovation. The strength of this program is in the breadth of the oncology ecosystem coming together to meaningfully accelerate these companies, and we are excited to help them soar with an investment in their success,” said Nicolas Stalder, Debiopharm Innovation Fund.

The cumulative amount of these warrants will be up to $1 million total.

Additional champions include MassChallenge, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Reveal HealthTech, Oncology Ventures, AstraZeneca and UC Davis Health.

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