Gift will establish oncology startup accelerator in Texas to expedite cancer research breakthroughs.
BrightEdge LLC, the American Cancer Society’s venture capital and impact investment arm, received its largest donation to date from Dallas-based Lyda Hill Philanthropies to establish the ACS BrightEdge Texas Accelerator, a two-year pilot innovation acceleration program hub. The $5.25 million gift will allow for the funding of translational research grants and early-stage equity investments in emerging oncology start-up companies. The news was announced Oct. 30, and CEO Dr. Karen Knudsen shared her thoughts via X (formerly Twitter.)
“We are excited to launch this first-of-its-kind program with Lyda Hill Philanthropies,” said Alice Pomponio, vice president of innovation and impact investing and managing director of BrightEdge. “This transformational gift establishes our first regional accelerator designed to bring innovative ideas to market faster. By leveraging vibrant cancer research funding across public and nonprofit sectors, we hope to deepen patient-centric impact and drive towards a future where discovery conquers cancer.”
The accelerator will address several key obstacles that hinder the advancement of impactful cancer breakthroughs: lack of early-stage capital, talent development and mentorship. This program will empower high-impact potential start-ups by providing milestone-driven, proof-of-concept grant funding that validates and de-risks technologies and pre-seed investments in early-stage companies. The program will also create a network of ACS-affiliated advisors and partners for deal-sourcing, due diligence and portfolio company support.
"We are committed to investing in organizations making game-changing and transformational advances in science,” Lyda Hill, entrepreneur and founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “This gift represents not only our dedication to eradicating cancer but also our belief in the potential for sustainable, impactful solutions. Through strategic investments, we aim to catalyze innovations that will not only save lives today but also shape a healthier, more equitable world for generations to come."
The first ACS BrightEdge Accelerator will be strategically located in Texas which is home to multiple top cancer research institutions and facilities, receives strong federal and state support, has an active investment and corporate community and a robust pool of technical and business talent. Additionally, ACS has granted $300 million to support Texas-based researchers. However, additional gap funding is needed to advance cancer-fighting technologies and bring these innovations to market. The accelerator program will fill this need and serve as a model for additional ACS accelerators in other areas, which will support cancer researchers from coast to coast in translating their discoveries into impactful solutions for patients.
This program is one way that BrightEdge, founded in 2019 by the nation’s leading cancer-fighting organization, works to catalyze market activity in areas of high impact and unmet needs while also creating a sustainable stream of alternative income for ACS. BrightEdge invests in for-profit, early-stage companies developing cancer-focused therapeutics, diagnostics, devices and technologies. In addition to these traditional venture capital activities, BrightEdge intentionally selects investments that help to further ACS’s mission-driven priorities: causes of cancer, healthy lifestyle and prevention, screening and diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and health equity.
*Photo above is used for illustrative purposes only.