Tampa General and Synapse Florida Seek Innovation Solutions to Reduce Cancer Mortality in Rural Communities | Tampa General Hospital

Tampa General and Synapse Florida Seek Innovation Solutions to Reduce Cancer Mortality in Rural Communities

Published: Nov 28, 2023


TGH Innovation Challenge incentivizes entrepreneurs, innovators and critical thinkers to tackle critical need for oncology care in rural communities.

Tampa, FL (Nov. 28, 2023) – Cancer care, whether for yourself or a loved one, can be one of the most difficult challenges in anyone’s life, especially for those with limited access to early detection, care and treatment. Tampa General Hospital (TGH) and its Cancer Institute partnered with Synapse Florida to issue a challenge and invite innovative solutions that can provide potentially lifesaving care and reduce cancer mortality in rural areas.

“While we are working to increase access to world-class care across Florida, we recognize there are some challenges we face that require system disruption,” said John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General. “Through TGH Innoventures and in partnership with Synapse, we’re working to incentivize innovation so that we can transform care delivery. With this challenge, we invite experts, entrepreneurs and critical thinkers to offer up solutions that have the potential to have a real, meaningful impact.”

The Innovation Challenge encourages individuals and organizations to propose innovative solutions that address the significant need for cancer care where it otherwise may not exist. This initiative enables Tampa General to crowdsource ideas from a broad cross section of the innovation ecosystem both locally in Florida, as well as nationally and globally.

There are 46 million Americans who live in rural areas and who collectively have a higher cancer death rate compared to urban residents. Additionally, rates for lung, colorectal, prostate and cervical cancers are higher in rural America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Access to cancer prevention, screening, treatment in rural areas contribute to higher cancer death rates. Rural residents also have greater risk factors, including smoking and obesity, according to the Census Bureau. Furthermore, residents in rural areas may not be able to afford the expense or time to travel to major health care systems, such as Tampa General.

TGH Innoventures supports various initiatives and programs that employ gamification strategies to drive innovation from its team members and beyond. Gamification is the process of adding competitive elements to a project to encourage participation.

“The Innovation Challenge is illustrative of the work we do at TGH Innoventures, assisting Tampa General’s stakeholders in solving big problems in health care by looking outside the four walls of the organization,” said Rachel Feinman, Tampa General’s vice president of Innovation and managing director of TGH Innoventures, Tampa General’s venture capital arm and innovation team. “By fostering partnerships and supporting projects, we can advance cancer care across Florida.”

The Innovation Challenge is intentionally broad with the goal of receiving a wide array of potential solutions, which may include anything from care navigation, improved treatments, early detection, novel care delivery or other enhancements. Tampa General is offering a prize valued at $50,000 to support a potential partnership or pilot project with the winning solution in collaboration with TGH Innoventures and the TGH Cancer Institute. This support may include IT resources, project management, subject matter expertise and other areas that would bring the effort to fruition.

“In addressing the unmet need of cancer care with the goal of reducing mortality in rural Florida, Tampa General aims to bring all aspects of world-class care closer to those communities,” said Dr. Eduardo Sotomayor, vice president and executive director, TGH Cancer Institute. “By establishing a joint effort, we can build trust, improve access, educate people and ultimately save lives.”

Individuals and businesses interested in being part of leveling the playing field in the fight against cancer can find out more at: TGH Innovation Challenge - Synapse Florida.

The application period began Nov. 15, 2023, and submissions must be received by Jan. 20, 2024. A virtual information session is scheduled for Dec. 6, 2023. Finalists will be announced on Feb. 2, 2024, and will be invited to present at Synapse Summit 2024. The winner will be announced on Feb. 28, 2024, on the main stage of the Synapse Summit, which takes place in Tampa, Florida. This is a national call for solutions; applicants need not be from, or located in, Florida to be eligible.

“Hosting an innovation challenge is a strategic move for any business seeking fresh, creative solutions,” said Lauren Prager, CEO of Synapse Florida. “Through these challenges, organizations like Tampa General are establishing a direct channel for new ideas by engaging with innovators beyond their immediate sphere. This approach is particularly effective as it draws from a diverse pool of contributors, including those from outside the health care industry, such as patients, caregivers and businesses from varied sectors. Large organizations can significantly benefit from this open exchange, as it not only drives innovation but also strengthens community ties, fostering a culture of collaboration and inspiration.”

Synapse Florida is a non-profit that connects the state’s diverse innovation ecosystem in driving economic growth and social impact. Its objective is supported by the company’s partnerships, volunteer programs and benefits. 

TGH Innoventures serves as Tampa General’s corporate venture capital arm and innovation team. It identifies, partners and invests in emerging health care companies that are redefining the care experience for clinicians and patients. The goal is to support entrepreneurs, financially and strategically, who want to solve problems and enhance patients’ lives.