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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Roger Strukhoff

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LIVESTRONG Foundation Launches Global Social Innovation Competition Designed to Improve the Lives of People Affected by Cancer

Today, the LIVESTRONG Foundation is launching a unique global competition to generate innovations advancing its mission of improving the daily quality of life for people affected by cancer now. Beginning on World Cancer Day, “The Big C competition” aims to initiate an international movement in entrepreneurship by collaborating with social innovators to create financially-sustainable enterprises that will make the world a better place – not only for the 32.5 million people living with cancer globally, but also for the family, friends and caregivers of those facing the disease. The Big C competition will be produced in partnership with Verb; an Austin-based company that runs social entrepreneurship competitions focused on the planet’s most pressing problems. One of the first and biggest global challenges open to all forms of innovations — programs, services, technology, products — the Big C addresses critical issues that people facing cancer are experiencing today as identified in LIVESTRONG's research.

“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 LIVESTRONG Foundation President and CEO Doug Ulman. “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 daily struggles accompanying their treatment and survivorship has traditionally been an 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.

Moreover, in a century filled with modern innovations and solutions for health-related issues, it is notable that out of the approximately 1,980 therapy-specific health care apps for patients and consumers, just 77 (about four percent) are geared toward cancer, the leading cause of death worldwide, according to an October 2013 IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics Report. This is just one example of how helping cancer patients and survivors deal with their daily struggles is an underserved market.

The Foundation seeks to fill that gap by opening The Big C competition to anyone with an audacious product, service or other innovation. The only requirement is that it helps those facing cancer today – people like Sarah, who thought that becoming a mom would not be possible after her cancer diagnosis, or Leon who needed more information, guidance and support to beat the disease on his terms.

To enter, participants can submit innovations to the following competition tracks:

  • Rebuilding Financial Health – A Cancer Diagnosis Shouldn’t Equal Financial Catastrophe
  • Regaining Emotional Well-Being – Finding a Sense of Security After Cancer
  • Caring for Caregivers – Families, Friends and Caregivers Are Fighting Cancer Too
  • Improving Access to Quality Care – Helping Cancer Patients Get the Care They Need
  • Filling the Knowledge Gap – Empowering Patients’ Informed Decisions Through Education
  • Open – Any innovation outside of the prescribed tracks that helps people affected by cancer

“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 Echoing Green Foundation President, Cheryl L. Dorsey. “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.”

Teams and individuals who enter will compete for funding, expert mentoring and international exposure to a community of potential customers and investors. Sixty 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 begins. Of the top 150 entries, 20 will move on to the venture accelerator phase from July 14-Sept. 15, where contestants will be paired with cancer survivors and business mentors to turn their ideas into action. On Sept. 29, five finalists will be announced. Oct. 16-18, 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.

About the LIVESTRONG Foundation

The LIVESTRONG Foundation fights to improve the lives of people affected by cancer now. Created in 1997, the Foundation is known for providing free cancer support services and advocating for policies that improve access to care and quality of life. Known for its powerful brand – LIVESTRONG – the Foundation has become a symbol of hope and inspiration around the world. Since its inception, the Foundation has served 2.5 million people affected by the disease and raised more than $500 million to support cancer survivors. One of America's top non-profit organizations, the Foundation has been recognized by industry leaders including Charity Navigator, the National Health Council and the Better Business Bureau for its excellent governance, high standards and transparency. For more information, visit LIVESTRONG.org.

About Verb

Verb is a social enterprise that produces massive social entrepreneurship competitions in partnership with global companies, foundations and governments. Verb competitions mobilize thousands of teams around the world to solve the planet's most pressing social and environmental problems. Founded in 2013 by Austin entrepreneurs Suzi Sosa and Tom Meredith, Verb combines proprietary technology, expertise and social networks to produce a competition experience unlike any other. For more information, visit goverb.com.

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