Breast cancer start-up challenge launches at UMKC conference

A national competition to turn licensed breast cancer inventions into usable products is launching Friday in Kansas City.

The Breast Cancer Start-up Challenge will pair 100 teams from university entrepreneurship centers with 10 inventions produced through the National Cancer Institute or with grants from the Avon Foundation for Women.

As many as 30 of those teams could end up with a business startup and seed money, said Rosemarie Truman, founder of the Center for Advancing Innovation.

“A lot of the teams entering, they really need jobs,” Truman said. “They’re graduating and see this as an alternative path for a career.”

The challenge is scheduled to be announced at the 2013 Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers Conference being held at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

More than 240 representatives from university-based entrepreneurship centers at about 200 universities across the nation and overseas are participating in the conference. It will include sessions on women entrepreneurs, design and entrepreneurship education, and commercializing university innovation.

Truman came up with the idea of the Breast Cancer Start-up Challenge because of the thousands of licensed inventions that can’t find a way to market.

A 10-month effort culled that collection for the 10 inventions being presented to the teams in the challenge. These were considered to be the most commercially viable and important to public health.

Each team must have at least three university students. Those who meet the challenge’s standards by Nov. 29 will work to develop a business plan — including a five-minute pitch and one-minute “elevator speech” — by Feb. 14.

In a startup phase of the competition, which will run through June 27, three teams for each invention will incorporate and apply for the licenses and seed funding.

Truman said each startup has the potential to “win” because the licenses can support more than one product.

Funding will come from venture capital, economic development corporations, the Avon Foundation and private sources. Winning teams could receive from $100,000 to more than $1 million. Truman said the program was looking for additional funding sources.

Already, 16 teams have entered and 23 others are working on their letters of intent required to compete. UMKC plans to field a team in the competition.