SXSW Interactive, the digital innovation festival famous for launching breakthrough ideas and companies such as Twitter and Uber, put cancer front of center of the innovation conversation at this year’s conference.
A new-half day program called Connect to End Cancer at SXSW was one of more than 150 health-related sessions at this year’s SXSW Health and Medtech. It included Cambia CEO Mark Ganz on the event’s first panel discussion and ended with an emotional keynote address by Vice President Joe Biden, who lost is son, Beau, to cancer in 2015 now leads the Biden Cancer Initiative.
Mark’s panel on Healthcare Innovation and Transformation kicked off the Connect to End Cancer program with a discussion on how organizations as varied as hospitals, researchers, retail health clinics and investors can work together to improve the experiences of people and their families as they navigate through this terrible disease. The panelists agreed: institutional siloes and bureaucracy must be knocked down and the focus must be on patient goals and needs.
What was striking about this panel conversation, is how different it would have been even five years ago. Rather than focusing on the clinical aspects of cancer treatment and research, the discussion centered on humanity, personalization and focus on people and their families as they navigate through a serious illness like cancer. As Mark said, “It’s not just about fighting cancer, it’s about fighting for people and their families.”
Joining Mark on the panel were:
- Marcus Osborne, VP Health and Wellness Transformation, Walmart
- Eric Lefkofsky, Co-Founder of Groupon, Entrepreneur
- Dr. Ronald DePinho, President, MD Anderson
- Lisa Suennen, Managing Director, GE Ventures
- Moderator – Missy Krasner, Director for Healthcare and Life Sciences, Box.
Connect to End Cancer at SXSW concluded with Joe Biden’s keynote, his first public speech since leaving the administration in January.
The former vice president talked about the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force he led under President Obama and how his only regret in not running for president in 2016 was that he “would have loved to have been the president who presided over the end of cancer as we know it.” At the end, his voice growing louder, he passionately called for SXSW’s best minds and best thinkers to come together to develop solutions that will make cancer a preventable, treatable disease in the future.
The inaugural event was designed to provide education and exposure and encourage collaboration among entrepreneurs, innovators, industry executives, venture capitalists, celebrities, philanthropists and SXSW attendees to make cancer history. To learn more about the event, watch the video with Mark Ganz below.