Though Meagher writes ‘worldwide’, the focus is on the US. ‘We are at a pivotal moment in the battle against cancer, bolstered by a new federal initiative – the Cancer Moonshot. Today’s challenges are different, more complex, grander but still as dire as ever. Technology and knowledge has advanced at a remarkable pace but our grip on the reigns continues to slip as the enormity of the cancer ecosystem continues to resist coordination. President Obama and Vice President Biden have put out the call to face these challenges with renewed fervor and collaboration.’
The cancer research ecosystem is incredibly specialized, which can result in research and data silos. Outstanding scientists spend their careers focused on a single signaling pathway adding to our knowledge and deepening the complexity. As discovery from these scientific efforts and many other pathways are transformed into therapy, the nurses, doctors, and patients are faced with an ever-evolving and multiplying set of tools.
New perspective needed for innovative thinking
Also, this specialization makes it harder for fresh perspectives to enter into the ecosystem as there are fewer jobs for newly trained scientists and the level of training and knowledge required to participate in cancer research and care grows. This is unfortunate, since a fresh perspective can often invigorate innovative thinking. Though the National Cancer Institute does what it can to prioritize funding for young scientists, more can be done. And it doesn’t have to come from the federal government: so, at Deloitte, an effort is underway where ‘bridges are built, opportunity reaches the motivated, and ingenuity is rewarded as change that could save many lives’.
Why this prize model? Deloitte believes it might activate the crowd and possibly unite the right stakeholders across this wide cancer ecosystem. To encourage more innovation in cancer research and care and to answer the Cancer Moonshot call to action, Deloitte is designing the XPRIZE in cancer. This process will seek the input of experts over the next several months and result in a challenge to the cancer ecosystem.
XprizeE, a non-profit innovation engine, is a global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. It utilizes a combination of gamification, crowd-sourcing, incentive prize theory and exponential technologies as a formula to make 10 times (vs. 10 percent) the impact in the grand challenge domains facing the world, Meagher states. Designing a challenge is a complex process, but Deloitte sees itself to be in a unique position: ‘We work with scientists, sponsors, patients, doctors, nurses, and advocates. We are privileged to serve the Federal, State, and local governments, non-profits, life sciences firms, health plans, cancer centers, health systems, high technology firms, and regulators and are asking them to help us identify areas ripe for challenge.’