Project Summary

The first-of-its-kind, an international, university student-based startup competition, the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge was launched by the National Cancer Institute in partnership with the Avon Foundation and the Center for Advancing Innovation. The primary goals of this challenge were to accelerate the process of bringing emerging breast cancer technologies to market and stimulate the creation of start-up businesses around the inventions.

Eleven new startups are launched and expect to receive technology licenses in the winter of 2014. Following the success of the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge, the Neuro Startup Challenge was launched in August 2014 with the hope of quickly producing startups and licensing brain related inventions. The Neuro Startup Challenge is centered around 16 inventions from multiple NIH Institutes.

Project Team

Team Members
Karen Maurey, NIH
Thomas Stackhouse, NIH
Rosemarie Truman, Center for Advancing Innovation
Marc Hulbert, Avon Foundation for Women
Rose Freel, NIH
Richard Rodriguez, NIH
Jennifer Wong, NIH
Eric Hale, NIH
John Hewes, NIH
Joanna Bergmann, NIH
Michele Newton, NIH
Li Gwatkin, NIH
Jonathan Lui, Center for Advancing Innovation
Youhong Wang, Center for Advancing Innovation
Carolyn Ricci, Avon Foundation for Women

Project Details


The Breast Cancer Startup Challenge hopes to speed breast cancer-related inventions to market. The first-of-its-kind challenge was conceived in the spring of 2013 with the primary goals of accelerating the process of bringing emerging breast cancer technologies to market and stimulating the creation of start-up businesses around the inventions. New startups will launch in the summer of 2014.

The Breast Cancer Startup Challenge was created out of a unique public/private partnership between NCI, the non-profit Center for Advancing Innovation, and the Avon Foundation for Women. It centers around ten inventions selected for their potential to improve the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and their commercial viability. The Challenge is an innovative model to move NIH discoveries to market where they can benefit public health. The ten new startups will launch in the summer of 2014.

Multi-disciplinary teams of university students, seasoned entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and business executives, competed in the Challenge’s rigorous Business Plan competition. The ten finalists are currently incorporating their businesses, negotiating a license and securing funding. This challenge also created new synergistic partnerships and is translatable across many sectors of the federal government.

Additional Information


HHS Innovates is one of the ways we are building an innovative culture at the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Innovates is a contest that recognizes and rewards action taken on good ideas. To date, HHS employees have submitted nominations of innovations for nearly 500 exciting new staff-driven innovative projects, and our employees have cast over 60,000 votes to select 42 finalists over seven rounds. This project is one of the finalists of HHS Innovates. Learn more about HHS Innovates.