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Connecting the dots

The innovative power of Cancer NGO’s. Why Cancer NGO’s play a vital role in user driven innovation.


The Norwegian Cancer Society on technology and innovation


The world is growing old. Ageing is already having a major economic impact and challenges the health care system in many ways. This places new demands on the role of NGOs. More health workers and more funding alone are not enough. We need to think smarter and be on the lookout for better solutions, turning great ideas into great innovation for the benefit of tomorrow’s cancer patients.

Most cancer organisations work within the areas of research and
patient support. However, with an ageing population and fewer resources, new ideas and new solutions are required. Cancer organisations need to play a more active role in making research-based knowledge available and useful for the benefit of patients.

  • With whom do we need to collaborate?
  • What new technology can we help implement?
  • How can we contribute to making health services more efficient?
  • How can we bridge research and patient needs?
  • How can we identify key stakeholders and ensure that crucial dots are connected?
  • Can NGOs have a role in implementing research in cancer care?


We have profound insight into the needs of cancer patients and their dependents, and we are familiar with the healthcare providers and stakeholders involved. Based on our insight we initiate collaboration between users, research communities and the authorities, as well as the business sector and innovation environments.

By connecting key stakeholders, we aim to:

  • Initiate innovation
  • Implement new technology and solutions
  • Integrate new solutions with existing healthcare structures


We advocate for technology. Not for technology in itself, but for how it can help to increase survival rates and improve quality of care. Fear of technology is ubiquitous, but through advocacy, we help to convert sceptics into followers.

We take part. New solutions must all face the day when different approaches and perspectives meet.

Read more about some of our collaborative projects:

  • How we are exploring whether VR technology can be a vital tool in improving cancer care
  • How the AV1 robot ensures greater participation and less isolation
  • Our contribution to the BigMed consortium

We lead the way. Throughout its history, the Norwegian Cancer Society has always been a major financer of cancer research. But how do we ensure that research results are turned into actual medical benefits for patients?

  • The Norwegian Cancer Society Seed Fund

We tell stories of progress. We aim to increase general knowledge of cancer – what it is and how diagnostics and treatment are constantly improving. Next year, the Norwegian Cancer Society will open the world’s first cancer experience centre in Oslo.

  • The Norwegian Cancer Society Popular Cancer Science Centre

The AV1 – reducing isolation for children with long-term illnesses

Sometimes, with illness comes isolation.

The AV1 makes it possible for children with long-term illnesses to participate at school and interact with friends. Research shows that children with long-term illnesses suffer from delayed effects as a result of being isolated when ill.

No Isolation has developed the AV1 robot in collaboration with the University of Oslo, the Hospital School at Trondheim University Hospital and Sunnaas Hospital.

Although the AV1 is already on the market, its area of use is currently being refined. Together with No Isolation, we will explore how the AV1 can be used in children’s pedagogical and social development. We will also seek to identify the needs of the hospital school and child’s local school when using the robot as a supplement in teaching.


  • We open doors. We ensure access to the hospital school, the clinic and key health professionals.
  • We ensure user participation. What uses does the AV1 have for both children and teachers?
  • We build bridges between technology and health.
  • We remove barriers – both cultural and financial.
  • We find solutions, making the AV1 available for all children who find it useful.

Exploring VR in cancer care

Cancer treatment can be harsh, especially for kids. Bone marrow transplantation entails isolation for up to six weeks. Due to risk of infection, patients are not
permitted to leave their room, and must remain isolated from school for six months following treatment.

Today, VR technology is widespread. Although the technology has been developed for computer gaming and action, we aim to explore its potential role in cancer care. Can VR technology provide children in isolation with a break, as well as help them to overcome the challenges of cancer treatment? What will it take to convince hospitals to try out VR technology? What are the barriers, both practical and cultural? The project aims to gather insights from patients, clinicians and technologists alike.


  • We open doors. We ensure access to the clinic and key players such as health professionals, psychologists and music therapists.
  • We ensure user participation. What content do our target groups
  • favour, and equally important – what content might have a better therapeutic effect?
  • We build bridges between technology and health. We ensure
  • content adapted to patients’ needs.
  • We remove barriers. How can we establish routines for proper
  • sterilisation? How can we ensure proper network connections?
  • We test and evaluate. In what way can VR improve patients’ quality
  • of life?

From research to innovation – the Norwegian Cancer Society Seed Funds

Seed funds are necessary in order to turn research results into innovation, ensuring that the extensive research efforts that have been undertaken actually benefit patients. For decades, the Norwegian Cancer Society has been one of the greatest funders of cancer research in Norway. However, we have often experienced that there is a gap between research and clinical practice. We want to help bridge this gap, which is often caused by insufficient funding mechanisms. In this work we combine a variety of strategies – we work at a political level, advocating for financial incentives and other structural means.

We use our experience as a user organisation to highlight barriers to innovation and implementation, and present possible solutions. We have also established our own seed funding grant. Our overall goal is to accelerate the development of new oncology therapies and diagnostics that will benefit cancer patients. This is also a political statement, encouraging private investors and the government to raise the funds necessary to move oncology research from bench to bedside.

Ensuring that more effective cancer research results are utilised in practice requires organisations that are able to take the results and use them. In closely following the research environments, we have observed that there is significant potential for commercialisation. This is exactly what we aim to achieve – the conversion of research results into commercial successes that benefit patients.

The Norwegian Cancer Society’s Seed Fund amounts to 9.5 million US dollars, and is intended to provide help to companies in a start-up phase. An annual 1.9 million US dollars will be invested in companies developing drugs and medical technology within cancer healthcare over a five-year period.


  • We lead the way, maintaining our own seed fund as a major
  • commitment.
  • We advocate for the authorities to allocate more funding to seed funds.

Big Data increases survival rates

No single doctor can extract the essence from 160,000 scientific papers on cancer, but IBM’s Dr. Watson and other similar big data solutions can. Combining data from a multitude of sources to an extent that has never been possible until now, big data computer software will revolutionise diagnostics and treatment.


Thanks to world-leading cancer research, biobanks and nationwide health registers, as well as a population that is digitally up-to-date, Norway is in a unique position to take a lead role in the development of medical technology and new business in the healthcare sector.

The Norwegian Cancer Society is proudly participating in the BigMed project at the Intervention Centre at Oslo University Hospital. The BigMed consortium includes patient organisations as well as academic and industrial partners, and aims to develop personalised, cost-effective healthcare through the innovative use of big data and cognitive computing.


  • We represent the patient. We have extensive knowledge of the needs of patients and their next of kin.
  • We advocate for technology being implemented faster and more
  • extensively.
  • We obtain knowledge of the possibilities and limitations of
  • technological innovations.

The Norwegian Cancer Society’s Science Centre

The Science Centre will highlight the role that scientific research and technological developments have played, and continue to play, in our ever-increasing knowledge of the mysteries of the human body and the development and treatment of cancer.

Through a number of interactive installations, visitors – both young and old alike – can explore:

  • How and why cancer develops
  • How cancer may be prevented
  • How research and development result in better diagnostics and treatment
  • The human experience of cancer

The Science Centre will give the public a unique opportunity to learn about the complexities of cancer and cancer treatment. Interaction and participation will play a key role in the learning process when the centre opens in 2017.


  • We innovate. Our popular science centre on cancer will be the first of its kind.
  • We collaborate. Researchers, scientists, technologists, clinicians and several other stakeholders will contribute in order to make the centre a great experience.
  • We create meeting points. The centre will provide a space for
  • exhibitions, seminars, events and debates.