The Quest Award

Solutions to End Cervical Cancer

- Startup Challenge -

days left for submissions





The Challenge

We are looking for bold new solutions in the fight to end Cervical Cancer in the United States.

Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women worldwide, affecting over 500,000 women and resulting in approximately 275,000 deaths every year.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 95 percent of cervical cancers could be prevented or effectively cured if caught early through regular, standard Pap tests and human papillomavirus (HPV) screening.

In the United States most women have access to cervical cancer screening, yet ~4,000 women die every year from cervical cancer in the US and it is estimated that ~30% of US women do not receive regular pap screenings according to CDC.

Genentech started The Quest Award to solicite bold new solutions from start-up and healthcare communities in an effort to identify viable and impactful digital solutions options in the fight against cervical cancer.

The Startup Challenge launched in January 2016 during Cervical Cancer Awareness month. More than 3,000 entrepreneurs were invited to participate and submit their solutions in five categories: Awareness, Education, Screening Technologies, Reducing Stigma and Other. The judging team selected five finalists who were invited to a live event to pitch their idea.

The finalist event brought together leaders from the provider, payer, patient, therapeutics, tech, and funding arenas to celebrate the shared commitment to fight Cervical Cancer and giving women a better chance to avoid this deadly disease. The event took place in San Francisco in April 2016. The top five teams presented their solutions in person to a live panel of judges, who awarded the Genentech-sponsored unconditional cash prize of $50k to support the further development of the winning idea.


1st Place


AND continued mentorship by Genentech for one year post-award with quarterly check-ins


Cervical Cancer Statistics for Non-screeners:
Based on a patient survey with women of the age 21-65 who were not screened in the past 5 years, 56% of non-screeners had health insurance and a primary care physician. The “Under-engaged population” are unscreened largely due to lack of awareness reasons. See more information in the 2015 Cervical Cancer Patient Survey.

Other useful links:



How can we make women aware of the need to be screened per guidelines?


How can we educate women about this disease and available resources?

screening technology

How can we make the screening process easier and more effective?

reducing stigma

How can we reduce stigma and cultural barriers?



Meet these volunteer judges at the finalist event

Janet Widmann

Board Member and Operating Advisor, Rock Health

  • Founder of Blue Shield’s Women Lead to Excellence (WL2X) program
  • Led unprecedented organic membership and revenue growth at Blue Shield
  • Named one of the Bay Area’s Most Influential Women in Business 2013, 2014, 2015 by the SF Business Times

Karen Carlson

Executive Director, Foundation for Women's Cancer

  • Executive Director of FWC since it was founded by the Society of Gynecologic Oncology in 1991
  • FWC Lead Partner in the National Cervical Cancer Public Education Campaign since 2003
  • Leader in cervical cancer public education regarding prevention, screening and treatment of cervical cancer and pre-cancers

Anne DeGheest

Founder, HealthTech Capital and MedStars

  • Invests and mentors Seed to Series A stage ventures
  • Business Architect with over $6 Billion disruptive new market categories
  • Expert in Lifescience and HealthTech Markets

Megan J. Huchko

MD, MPH, Associate Professor, UCSF School of Medicine

  • Cervical cancer prevention in low-resource settings
  • Cost-effectiveness analysis
  • Implementation and Dissemination Science

Krishnansu S. Tewari

MD, FACOG, FACS, Professor & Director of Research, Division Gyn Oncology, UC Irvine

  • Principal Investigator/Study Chair Gynecologic Oncology Group protocol 240
  • Principal Investigator of NIH R21 Grant
  • Prominent robotic surgeon for women with early stage cervical cancer

Deborah Arrindell

Vice President, Health Policy American Sexual Health Association

  • Advocates for appropriate policies in women health
  • Convenes experts from federal agencies, academia, and national organizations to address cervical cancer prevention
  • Works with survivors to ensure a voice in education and policy

Winnie H. Wan

Chairman and CEO, OncoHealth Corp

  • Industry veteran in launching and building life science companies
  • Of the 6 startups built, 4 have successfully commercialized products in the market
  • Knowledgeable of cervical cancer testing field, including patient needs, technology and products

Pascal Finette

Managing Director, Singularity University

  • Built startups, acquired companies (M&A) and built a VC fund
  • Held leadership positions at eBay, Mozilla and
  • Preaches the power of exponential technologies to address humanity’s challenges globally

Katya Hancock

Strategic Partnerships Director, StartUp Health

  • Builds a global Network of industry stakeholders through strategic partnerships
  • Expands StartUp Health's footprint across the United States and internationally
  • Previously built two tech startups from early-stage to acquisition by Fortune 500 companies

Jennifer Carter

VP, Portfolio Development at McKesson Ventures

  • A strategic venture firm whose mission is to inform long-term growth strategy for McKesson’s ecosystem
  • Seeking digital health and health care IT companies aimed at improving the navigability, affordability and sustainability of health care
  • Focused on consumerism, pharma value chain and data value chain across the health care continuum

Don Ross

Founder/Managing Director, HealthTech Capital

  • Invests primarily in Seed and Series A stage ventures
  • Board director of cervical cancer diagnostics company
  • Expert in digital health and diagnostics

Richard T. Penson, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Clinical Director Medical Gyneologic Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Member, Professional Advisory Board, The Wellness Community
  • Principal Investigator (PI) of nine active local, and Co-PI of two international studies
  • Recipient of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center’s The One Hundred for 2010

Thomas Herzog, MD

Clinical Director, University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute, Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

  • Editor-in-chief of Gynecologic Oncology Research and Practice
  • Principal Investigator at Washington University ILEX Oncology: Phase II Trial of Aminopterin in Patients with Persistent or Recurrent Endometrial Carcinoma
  • Chair: PRMC and DSMB committees UC Cancer Institute 2014-

Karen Lee

Innovation & Strategic Partnerships Leader, Humana

  • Innovator and thought leader in healthcare technology
  • Seeking strategic partnerships with promising startups and established companies to improve health and wellbeing
  • Broad experience and involvement in payer, provider, academic, startup and investment communities

Ronald D. Alvarez, MD

Professor, Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

  • International Committee, Wellbeing of Women, Grant reviewer
  • Member FDA Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee - 2014
  • Dept. of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OCRP) Pilot Grant Reviewer



Over 10 million women living in U.S. have limited access to a colposcopist, yet represent 72% of abnormal Pap results. This leads to loss to follow up and high rates of cancer. MobileODT's Enhanced Visual Assessment (EVA) System closes this gap by enabling primary care providers to perform colposcopy and consult with expert gynecologists. EVA is an internet-connected mobile colposcope with real time decision support, making remote training of primary care providers possible, integrating longitudinal quality control and quality improvement.


Antiva’s goal is to end cervical cancer before it starts. We aim to develop the first FDA-approved drug to treat pre-cancerous cervical lesions (CIN) caused by HPV. With four weekly doses of a topical cream self-administered intravaginally, we want to make clearing CIN as easy as curing a yeast infection. Our dual-acting drug is designed to rapidly clear all stages of CIN and be effective against all strains of HPV.

Eve Medical

HerSwab™ is a beautiful, functional self-sampling device for cervical cancer screening. It enables women to conveniently collect their own high quality DNA samples to test for HPV. HerSwab™’s unique design is simple to use and “automatically” collects a targeted sample from close to the cervix. This saves time, provides privacy and minimizes invasiveness for patients. Self-sampling has been shown to reduce barriers to screening, and to be a cost-effective way to increase participation amongst underscreened women.


We have developed a low-cost ultraportable Point of Care Tampon (POCkeT) colposcope and have demonstrated the ability of our system to capture cervical images that are comparable to images captured with a $20,000 digital colposcope. The device is attached and powered by a smartphone and has the following features: image visualization, capture, storage and transmission. Our system addresses the shortcoming of a primary screening exam by combining the merits of both a primary and secondary screen in one device.


UDoTest comprises of a young and innovative team who care about cancer and access to easy, accurate screening. UDoTest’s start-to-finish service educates and carefully guides a lady through the self-testing service, which includes ordering, shipping, education, doctors recommendations, counselling and assistance with treatment. Based in South Africa, we have experience in both the underpriviledged and the under-engaged markets. And we know that women lack the time to screen and the education on HPV. UDoTest effectively, comfortably and conveniently solves that.