GE Healthcare reported plans to spend $1 billion over the next five years to expand its advanced cancer diagnostic and molecular imaging capabilities as well as its technologies for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals and for cancer research. The firm also announced a $100 million open innovation challenge along with four venture capitalist firms.
The $1 billion is part of the $6 billion GE said it would spend under its healthymagination campaign, which started in May 2009, according to Bloomberg News. The contest will use both direct investments and grant access to the company’s sales force and R&D resources, also awarding $100,000 to universities for research, Bloomberg News adds.
Over the past few years GE Healthcare has been expanding its oncology pipeline and portfolio by spending on acquisitions. Most recently, on August 16, it took over PAA Laboratories, which has offerings for cell biology research and for the discovery and manufacture of biopharmaceuticals. Also this year, in April, GE picked up cellular imaging firm Applied Precision.
In October 2010, the company made an offer to acquire Clarient for about $580 million. The deal forms the backbone of GE’s biomarker and diagnostic focus. Previous company purchases include Amersham (2004), Biacore (2006), Wave Biotech (2007), and MicroCal (2008).
GE Healthcare says that it plans to bolster its current initiatives armed with its $20 million annual cancer R&D budget. Programs span biomarker development, molecular pathology, imaging technologies, biologic production, and IT solutions for healthcare. GE Healthcare expects to introduce new tracers to the FASTlab* multitracer platform, a PET chemistry system on which the company is also developing PET proprietary agents.
The open innovation challenge will run for six months. GE will contribute half the $100 million fund, with the other investors—Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Venrock Associates, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and MPM Capital LP—chipping in the rest.
The goal is to help healthcare professionals better understand tumors associated with triple negative cancer, a type of cancer that is less responsive to standard treatments and is typically more aggressive; to elucidate molecular similarities between breast cancer and other solid tumors; to improve early detection; and to help doctors make the best possible treatment decisions based on each patient’s unique cancer.
Challenge entrants will be evaluated by a committee of representatives from GE and venture capital partner firms. A separate, independent judging panel will include GE executives, venture capital partners, and several leading healthcare luminaries such as former FDA commissioner and NCI director Andrew Von Eschenbach, M.D.
GE adds that it is investing in the development of a first-in-kind “super database,” which will consolidate clinical, pathology, therapy, and outcomes data in one place to enable analysis and further accelerate innovation.
This super database will be available in collaboration with leading cancer research, NGO, and government organizations. It will start with relevant cancer data from GE’s Medical Quality Improvement Consortium; Clarient, a GE Healthcare company; The Premier healthcare alliance; and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.