GE announces $100m innovation challenge and $1bn R&D investment in cancer care

2 October 2011

GE has launched a new healthymagination initiative with healthcare and financial partners to accelerate cancer innovation and improve care for 10 million cancer patients by 2020. [1]

GE CEO and Chairman Jeff Immelt said that GE will invest US$1 billion over the next five years on R&D programs to expand its suite of advanced technologies and solutions for cancer detection and treatment, beginning with breast cancer.

“We envision a day when cancer is no longer a deadly disease,” said Jeff Immelt, CEO and Chairman, GE. “When you add our cutting edge cancer detection technologies to the innovative ideas of our new partners, it’s a powerful formula for tackling cancer and helping doctors and researchers improve care.”

Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO, Susan G. Komen for the Cure said, “Extraordinary things can happen when you apply imagination to solve big problems. This initiative brings new innovation, commitment and significant resources to the table, and we’re very excited about its potential to help us end suffering and death, on a global scale, from the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.”

Open innovation challenge

GE has announced a US$100 million global open innovation challenge that seeks to identify and bring to market ideas that advance breast cancer diagnostics [2]. The goal is to help healthcare professionals better understand tumours associated with triple negative cancer, a type of cancer that is less responsive to standard treatments and is typically more aggressive.  It also includes the molecular similarities between breast cancer and other solid tumours, improving early detection, allowing for more accurate diagnoses and ultimately helping doctors make the best possible treatment decisions based on each patient’s unique cancer.

The challenge was launched in collaboration with leading venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Venrock, Mohr Davidow and MPM Capital.

The effort will also feature a special focus on data, in partnership with O’Reilly Media, whose CEO & founder, Tim O’Reilly is a pre-eminent advocate for using data science to spur innovation.

Risa Stack, partner at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers and GE healthymagination Challenge judge said, "Based on our work in healthcare, we think that there is great opportunity to impact cancer care with new technology in the next 10 years. As we saw through the success of the ecomagination Challenge, innovation can be transformational and good ideas that drive change can come from anywhere. We look forward to once again partnering with GE on the healthymagination Challenge to help shape a new age in patient care."

Challenge entrants will be evaluated by a committee of representatives from GE and venture capital partner firms. A separate, independent judging panel that includes GE executives, venture capital partners and several leading healthcare luminaries — such as former US FDA Commissioner and National Cancer Institute Director, Dr Andrew Von Eschenbach; Professor of Surgery and Director of the University of Michigan Breast Care Center, Dr Lisa Newman; and cancer medicine specialist and Imperial College’s professor of cancer medicine, Dr Justin Stebbing — will select the recipients of the $100,000 innovation seed grants. Winners will be announced in the first quarter of 2012.

Andrew von Eschenbach, GE healthymagination Challenge judge and healthymagination advisory board member said, “Scientific discovery and advances in technology have induced a tipping point in our understanding of cancer. To design and deliver integrated solutions for individual patients, we can no longer work in silos. We must combine our assets for diagnosis and therapy working in concert with partners across the private sector, government, NGOs and academia to create the right treatment for the right patient to achieve the right outcome, eliminating suffering and death from cancer.”

GE is also investing in the development of a first-in-kind "super database", which will consolidate clinical, pathology, therapy and outcomes data in one place to enable analysis and further accelerate innovation. This super database will be available in collaboration with leading cancer research, NGO and government organizations, starting with relevant cancer data from GE’s Medical Quality Improvement Consortium; Clarient, a GE Healthcare Company; The Premier Health Organization; and the US Department of Health & Human Services.

New technologies to improve screening and diagnosis

GE will launch new innovations that improve screening and breast cancer diagnosis, and help doctors ensure patients receive the right therapy for their tumor type.

John Dineen, president and CEO, GE Healthcare said, “Cancer is a complex disease and because every patient’s cancer is different, oncologists need advanced tools to ‘fingerprint’ individual cancerous tumors. GE Healthcare continually breaks new ground in advanced diagnostic and molecular imaging equipment, partnering with hospitals and physicians to better manage patients throughout the cancer journey. Today and as we look to the future, we will continue to help doctors characterize cancer at the cellular level. This empowers them with the targeted information they need to prescribe the most accurate and effective therapy for their patient the first time.”

Mammography technology

GE has announced SenoCase, a breakthrough new ultra-portable mammography device concept that will take a traditional digital mammography system and miniaturize it into an affordable portable unit the size of a large suitcase. This concept has the potential to transform access to breast health screenings for millions of women around the world, bringing life-saving technology to women where they live.

GE also previewed the game-changing SenoBright, Contrast Enhanced Spectral Mammography (CESM), a breast screening technique that will enable more precise identification of breast cancer incidence for over one million women by 2020. SenoBright’s exclusive imaging technique, which combines digital mammography, low-and high-level X-rays and a common contrast agent, better identifies incidence of cancer, and helps clinicians better select patients requiring biopsy.

SenoBright will result in lower costs by reducing unneeded procedures and improving a doctor’s ability to appropriately treat patients. SenoBright is currently 510k clearance pending at the US FDA, and not available for sale in the United States. Outside the US, SenoBright has been installed in 17 care centers across Europe and Asia.

PET tracer

GE’s commitment to new oncology solutions extends through the full cancer care continuum. Among the advanced technologies that GE scientists are working on is a new positron emission tomography (PET) tracer. The goal of this tracer is to help doctors evaluate whether particular cancer treatments are working very early in the course of therapy, by measuring new blood vessel formation in tumors.

Collaboration to expand global access to care

GE today announced a three-year partnership with Susan. G Komen for the Cure to forge first-in-kind programs that bring the latest breast cancer technologies to more women in the United States and around the world. Initially, these programs will run in Wyoming, Saudi Arabia and China.


By taking an innovative approach to mobile mammography and applying a digital twist to appointment bookings, GE is partnering with a number of in-state organizations to help Wyoming address the challenges associated with being one of the most rural states in the U.S.

Saudi Arabia

GE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health established a mutual partnership aimed at increasing access to breast cancer screening. GE will develop and deploy two mobile screening units in Riyadh City with the goal of screening 10,000 women within the first 12 months with a plan to start in October 2011. It’s also reaching out to leading universities to launch an open innovation challenge for Saudi women in an effort to identify sustainable methods for improving breast cancer screening in the country.


GE and partners will launch a broad outreach program later this year in the Guangdong Province aimed at raising awareness of and compliance with breast cancer screening procedures. The program will develop a local model to improve education and breast screening in rural areas.

More information

To learn more about the healthymagination initiative, visit

The innovation Challenge is open immediately for entries at

Source: GE


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