The Astellas Way Blog

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and the Power of Ideas to Make a Positive Impact for Cancer Patients and Caregivers

By Mark Reisenauer

Jun 27, 2019

It Starts with an Idea, Big or Small

On May 20, we announced the call for entries for our annual Astellas Oncology C3 (Changing Cancer Care) Prize. Now in its fourth year, the C3 Prize focuses on core challenges facing people impacted by cancer. The C3 Prize is not just for tech applicants or complex solutions. We’re open to any idea that may have impact, even and especially if it’s simple – such as educational tools or programs, technology and beyond.

  • In 2018, an innovator and caregiver came to us with an idea that could address cultural and social stigma of breast cancer through compelling storytelling and entertainment.

  • In 2017, an entrepreneur and cancer survivor presented a video game concept that could help pediatric cancer patients and their parents solve issues related to medication adherence and better understand complex cancer treatment procedures.

Both ideas, nurtured and funded, quickly moved from concept to reality to help improve patient outcomes and the caregiver navigation experience. Our innovators have been able to help those experiencing cancer in ways we never would’ve imagined on our own.

While these ideas were almost fully developed when they were brought to us, we know that innovation comes in all shapes and sizes and to support great ideas in their earliest stages, we need to do more. That’s why this year, in addition to awarding fully developed ideas that are feasible to implement in the near-term, we will be selecting an emerging idea with high potential impact for patients and caregivers that needs additional cultivation before implementing.

Innovation Occurs at Intersections of the Patient Journey

I recently had the opportunity to attend SXSW for the first time. Joining cancer activist, entrepreneur, and first winner of “The Apprentice” Bill Rancic, and CEO of Techonomy Josh Kampel, I participated in a panel where we discussed innovation, entrepreneurship and the power of ideas to make a positive impact for cancer patients and caregivers.

During the panel, I elaborated on my experience as a former caregiver for my father and the challenges I faced. Despite my extensive knowledge of the healthcare industry, I found that I faced difficulties when it came to finding suitable transportation, attending appointments and interpreting test results for my father. And as Bill shared during the panel, “The most important role of a caregiver is helping the patient make decisions based on knowledge rather than making decisions based on emotion.”

That’s why it is critical that we focus on improving the cancer care experience for not only the patient but also the caregiver, by providing resources that go beyond medicine. This year, we’re looking for submissions in three categories:

  • Cancer Care Journey: Ideas to help improve the patient experience, ease decision-making, and navigate everyday care.
  • Cancer Health Disparities: Ideas to reduce the unequal burden of cancer care, with a focus on tools and resources that reach underserved populations in the U.S. and abroad.

  • Cancer Survivorship: Ideas to address survivorship challenge and concerns.

It’s so important that we focus on finding cancer treatments, while at the same time holistically improving the lives of those battling cancer. This type of innovation requires collaboration from stakeholders across the spectrum, from health systems to physicians to dispatchers and anyone else who the patient meets along their cancer journey.

The Astellas C3 Prize is a Movement, Not a Moment

When we created the C3 Prize, we wanted to inspire ideas beyond medicine that could improve cancer care for patients and their loved ones, and ignite a movement that could help people impacted by cancer.

But we couldn’t have predicted just how successful it might be. Nurturing these ideas has resulted in incredible impact over the years. That’s why in our fourth year, we have increased total funds and resources to $200,000 to help winners develop and advance their idea.

The C3 Prize is sparked by Astellas and sustained by the cancer community. We’re committed to ensuring that the C3 Prize remains a movement, not a moment. We look forward to seeing the ideas that could inspire the next big transformation of cancer care. For more information about the challenge, or to enter an idea, visit