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Program Overview

The Asian Fund for Cancer Research (AFCR) is proud to present the Bridging Research from Academia to Cancer Entrepreneurship (BRACE) Award Venture Competition. The program is designed to advance and catalyze the commercialization of innovative cancer research discoveries. AFCR is committed to bridging the gap in funding for promising start-ups through the “Valley of Death”, especially those spun-out of top universities and medical centers in Asia. The initiative provides a combination of investment capital, prize money, exposure-generating opportunities and enhanced access to AFCR’s network of cancer industry professionals and researchers in the region and around the world.

Asia is a unique region with extremely high burden of cancer, as it is the most populous in the world and home to both advanced and developing economies. Since its founding in 2005, AFCR has been focused on funding basic cancer research in major cancer institutes, medical centers and universities in Asia. Our organization also coordinates and facilitates international collaborative platform programs. AFCR’s Scientific Advisory Board carefully evaluates and selects only top cancer institutions and programs:

  • National University of Singapore
  • National Cancer Centre Singapore
  • University of Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Tianjin Medical University Cancer Hospital
  • Beijing Tiantan Hospital
  • Consortium for Globalization of Chinese Medicine
  • GBM AGILE | Global Coalition for Adaptive Research
  • Tissue Bank Consortium in Asia

Despite impressive advances in basic research, new cancer therapies and diagnostics available to patients are still desperately needed. To accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into effective and affordable cancer technologies, AFCR is expanding our support beyond basic cancer research, and now we are also offering long-term support, critically needed funding and other assistance for risk-taking, early-stage companies engaged in translational research.

Program Details

BRACE Award Venture Competitions consist of half-day to whole-day sets of presentations by early-stage Asian cancer technology companies or teams planning on forming such ventures—represented especially by presidents and CEOs with scientific backgrounds or chief science, medical or technology officers. They are coordinated with major universities, cancer centers, hospitals, technology commercialization offices, industry organizations or science parks.

At each BRACE Award Venture Competition, finalists are guaranteed to be selected—and awarded prizes equivalent to HK$10,000, respectively. Assessments are made with emphasis on both the company—including cancer problem it aims to addresses, proposed solution, business model, leadership and intellectual property—and its technology—including underlying science, feasibility, novelty and cancer patient impact, as well as consideration to any unique cost mitigation features for Asian patients.

These BRACE Award Venture Competitions are conducted throughout Asia, and candidates are selected and semi-finalists are judged by some of the most respected minds in the cancer research, investment and business fields. Semi-finalists, finalists and winners are announced through AFCR’s various communication channels, as well as in conjunction with host and affiliated institutions. 

Each BRACE Award Venture Competition’s finalist that already is or is soon to become structured as or within a business will be further evaluated. Subject to due diligence and negotiation, the one deemed to have the strongest potential for return and cancer patient impact will receive up to the equivalent of HK$2,000,000 in investment funding from AFCR, which will also facilitate dialogue between these top start-up companies and other early-stage funding providers.

Program Impact

In the life science ecosystem, most start-ups will fail to advance their technologies to the late clinical stage, and very few profit-seeking investors—including banks, venture capitalists or private equity firms—invest in high-risk-bearing early-stage companies, especially those directly spun-out of cancer research laboratories. The Asian Fund for Cancer Research, however, is committed to fund such efforts.

BRACE Award Venture Competitions provide a platform for early-stage oncology companies to receive investment and other intangible resources from AFCR, obtain critical research data and pre-clinical results, and attract larger, follow-on investors. Such resources will give these start-ups a much better chance to escape the “Valley of Death” and deliver technologies most likely and able to benefit patients.

The BRACE Award program is AFCR’s inaugural translational research initiative, which expands our organization’s efforts into an important space. It sustains and grows AFCR’s commitment to promoting science, encouraging entrepreneurship and, eventually, finding cancer cures that save patients’ lives in Asia—and worldwide.