One undisputed accomplishment during Lance Armstrong’s career is that he won a battle against cancer. On World Cancer Day, February 4th, Livestrong Foundation, the organization he established but at which he no longer holds a leadership role, launched a social innovation competition to support cancer patients and survivors like himself.
The Big C competition is described as one for social innovators to create financially-sustainable enterprises that will help the 32.5 million people living with cancer today, as well as their family, friends, and caregivers. It is being produced in partnership with Verb, an Austin-based company running social entrepreneurship competitions.
“For too long, a diagnosis of ‘the big C’ and facing cancer has been a socially taboo topic even though this disease touches everyone. By naming this competition, ‘The Big C’, we’re taking cancer head on, encouraging a global dialogue and bringing cancer to the forefront of innovation. We want to empower individuals and teams to build solutions for those affected by the disease today,” said Doug Ulman, Livestrong Foundation president and CEO.
“With this competition, we hope to unite a global community around a common cause and change the way the world lives with cancer.”
Helping cancer patients and survivors deal with the daily struggles that accompany their treatment and survivorship has traditionally been a largely underserved market. A 2010 Livestrong Foundation survey found that nearly all cancer survivors experience continued physical, emotional and practical concerns long after treatment ends. Yet many reported they did not receive help for these needs. Only half of those who experienced emotional concerns received help and just 20 percent of those with practical concerns received assistance.
According to an October 2013 IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics report, out of 1,980 therapy-specific health care apps for patients and consumers, only 77 apps (four percent) are geared toward cancer, a leading cause of death worldwide.
Livestrong Foundation is seeking to fill that gap by opening The Big C competition to anyone with an audacious product, service, or other innovation that helps those facing cancer today.
To enter, participants can submit innovations to the following competition tracks:
Teams and individuals who enter will compete for funding, expert mentoring and international exposure to a community of potential customers and investors. Sixty total ventures will receive a total of $140,000 in seed funding, based on their innovation’s utility, ingenuity, and benefits to cancer patients and survivors. The grand prize winner will receive $25,000.
Entries are accepted until May 15, when judging will begin. Of the top 150 entries, 20 will move on to the venture accelerator phase from July 14 to September 15, where contestants will be paired with cancer survivors and business mentors to turn their ideas into action. On September 29, five finalists will be announced. From October 16 to 18, the finalists will travel to Austin, Texas to present their innovations during the Team Livestrong Challenge Austin, where the grand prize winner will be selected.
“Livestrong’s social innovation competition strikes at our core beliefs: the nonprofit organization that unleashes next generation talent to solve the world’s biggest problems,” said Cheryl L. Dorsey, Echoing Green Foundation president.
“By creating the space for dialogue and new ideas, and providing critical supports to these entrepreneurs, this competition will fast-track progress and allow some of the world’s most credible solutions to reach those affected by cancer today.”
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