Maryland Startups Announced as Winners of the Freedom from Cancer Startup Challenge

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The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) has named Maryland startups as winners of the Freedom from Cancer Startup Challenge (FCSC)

The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) has named Maryland startups as winners of the Freedom from Cancer Startup Challenge (FCSC). The FCSC was generously supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, with a goal of advancing 100+ breakthrough inventions to better prevent, diagnose, treat, and cure cancers. Maryland winners will advance more than 20 of the breakthrough inventions featured in the FCSC. Since opening for entry in August 2017, the FCSC supported 111 startups and 800+ participants. Twenty-five percent of startups that participated in the FCSC are based in Maryland.

CAI and a panel of potential investors and industry experts, including senior executives from MedImmune/AstraZeneca, selected technologies for the FCSC from 55 leading research institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, the United States Army, the University System of Maryland, and more than fifty other American universities and hospitals.

Rosemarie Truman, CAI’s Founder and CEO, said, “The Freedom from Cancer Startup Challenge, CAI’s most audacious initiative, has united our nation’s brain trust against a common enemy -- cancer -- by galvanizing the entrepreneurial community, pharmaceutical industry, and academia. The FCSC would not have been possible without support from the Maryland life sciences community and, in particular, MedImmune, which has been CAI’s closest industry partner.”

A multi-disciplinary world-class judging panel selected the winning startups, based on their 10-page business plans, financial models, 20-minute “live pitches”, and engagement in CAI’s White House-recognized, award-winning accelerator program. Winning startups have incorporated companies and are negotiating exclusive licenses for their chosen inventions. FCSC startups will raise seed funding from participating investors, recruited into the challenge by CAI. Startups recognized with the Innovation Excellence Award will receive a cash award.

Participants in the challenge received award-winning entrepreneurial training; networked with world-class entrepreneurial leaders; received a cash award; garnered noteworthy recognition and benefited from CAI’s partners and collaborators, including, but not limited to: McCarter & English, LLP; McKinsey & Company; Johnson & Johnson’s JLABS; and the Founder Institute.
Winning startups in Maryland, their chosen inventions, and their target indications are listed on the website below:

Jarrod Borkat, former Senior Director of Partnering & Strategy at MedImmune and Vice Chairman of BioHealth Innovation, said, “MedImmune has partnered with the Center for Advancing Innovation for three years to boost the biohealth sector in the BioHealth Capital Region. With guidance from CAI, Maryland-based spinouts of the Freedom from Cancer Startup Challenge are poised to create outsized economic returns and hundreds of knowledge-based jobs for the State of the Maryland, while meaningfully impacting the lives of millions of people around the world.”

For more information on the challenge, please visit

The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) is a global public-private partnership, non-profit focused on creating a virtuous circle of innovation and driving growth breakthroughs through novel, creative paradigms and models. CAI's mission is to accelerate and increase the volume of research commercialization in support of high growth business to ignite entrepreneurship, bolster the global economy, and maximize the commercial and knowledge-based potential of promising inventions. CAI’s award-winning challenge-based accelerator, rigorous evidence-based due diligence, and capital-efficient lean management models serve to hyper-accelerate “gazelle” high-performing startups for outsized investor returns. For additional information about CAI, please visit

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Rosemarie Truman

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