Disrupt the Bay is hosting its third annual conference Thursday (Nov. 4), bringing together leaders in healthcare and biotechnology with emerging industry startups – all to raise money and promote innovative research for pediatric cancer.
Stan Liberatore, Board Chairman of Disrupt the Bay, came up with the idea for the unique conference about four years ago after some of his closest friends tragically lost their children to cancer – specifically, to atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (ATRT) and neuroblastoma. Liberatore’s business partner, Mike DeLucia, also lost his baby brother to ATRT, a rare and fast-growing cancerous tumor.
“It was very obvious there was a sign there for me,” said Liberatore. “I didn’t really know what it was, but I did have a platform for a tech conference.”
Liberatore created a Security Summit around four years ago and worked closely with hospitals and others in the healthcare sector. He also began to realize the importance for business owners to be good stewards in the community, rather than just focusing on maximizing profits.
“That’s kind of when I said, ‘Hey, let’s have a tech conference and niche it in healthcare, and also just give all the money away,’” said Liberatore.
To put the money towards much-needed funding and research for pediatric cancer – specifically to ATRT and neuroblastoma – was an easy decision for Liberatore and DeLucia.
Liberatore met DeLucia during the first Security Summit, which focused on cybersecurity, infrastructure and engineering. The two “instantly clicked” and quickly became friends and business partners. The pair started to get to know more about each other’s backgrounds, and the following year, DeLucia told Liberatore about losing his baby brother to cancer.
“That’s when me and him started conjuring up this idea about Disrupt the Bay,” said Liberatore. “We’re going to disrupt healthcare while we disrupt the status quo for pediatric cancer treatment.”
Liberatore said the conference has transformed from strictly health technology to include biotechnology. The goal is to accelerate new research and fund the development of new pediatric cancer treatments that are less harmful to children.
“Over the years, they’ve always tried to treat them as adults, and it’s never really worked out,” said Liberatore.
Liberatore added that many kids die from organ failure or blood poisoning from cancer treatments rather than cancer itself. He relayed how tough it is to get new medicines or treatments to market, “especially when you’re dealing with big pharma and the FDA.”
“It takes private money and organizations like ours to move that needle,” he said.
Liberatore said his goal for this year’s DTB is to raise $100,000 for pediatric cancer research. He called the amount conservative and realistic and noted how the Human Society’s Tuxes and Tails fundraiser recently raised $777,000.
“If they can raise that for dogs and cats, I think us being able to raise $100,000 for kids is feasible,” he said.
Disrupt the Bay will be presented virtually from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. on the Vsummits platform. The event will include speakers from some of the top healthcare systems in the country, along with local chief executives and several healthcare technology startups from around the United States. Unlike a typical webcast, Vsummits created an augmented reality expo hall in a virtual building to allow people to network as they would at an in-person conference.
Attendees can create their own avatar and move around freely from table to table and sponsorship booth to sponsorship booth. People can then have intimate conversations about products and services that would otherwise not be possible on another platform.
The conference also features a startup competition between 10 emerging companies in the healthcare technology industry. Liberatore recruits venture capitalists from around the country to vote on the competition, and in addition to the exposure, the winner will receive a $10,000 innovation award.
Following the virtual conference, Fintech Entrepreneur Gary Cardone will host a VIP party at his estate in Tierra Verde. Liberatore said he envisions the party as a modern-day Gatsby event, with elected officials, executives and entrepreneurs coming together to have a good time for a good cause.
“We really just want to create synergy in healthcare to make it better,” said Liberatore. “We also try and help the next kid out there that might be suffering and might not have any solution – and their family.”
For more information on Disrupt the Bay, visit its website here.
For more information on the Save the Kids Foundation, visit its website here.