Johnson & Johnson has launched the Champions of Science Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0 calling on African innovators to submit ideas for innovative technologies, products and solutions that have the potential to create positive impact for African communities.
Challenge participants with the best solutions will receive up to US$50,000 in funding and mentorship from the global network of scientists, engineers and business managers within the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies to bring new solutions forward.
The challenge, the second continent-wide competition, focuses on identifying scalable and sustainable solutions to six major health and environmental problems for Africa’s population.
The Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0 is designed to address the critical unmet needs of the continent and local communities in Africa while providing support to Africa-based entrepreneurs in creating innovative health care products and services.
Among the selection criteria, entries must demonstrate the potential for scale from proof of concept stage to long-term sustainability. The deadline to submit applications is January 16, 2019
“The growing number of innovation hubs throughout Africa is sparking a new generation of entrepreneurs who are innovating and finding new solutions for issues facing their communities,” said Josh Ghaim, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. and member of the Johnson & Johnson Research & Development Management Committee, who launched the challenge at the Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum in Cape Town.
“Our goal with the second Africa Innovation Challenge is to expand our support for the region’s entrepreneurs by pushing the boundaries of creative solutions to meet several areas of urgent need. With six new solution categories, Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0 represents an extraordinary opportunity for the region’s growing community of innovators to showcase new ideas with the potential for broad societal impact,” added Ghaim.
“At Johnson & Johnson, we believe a great idea can come from anyone, anywhere, and we work with entrepreneurs around the world to relentlessly pursue innovations that advance and enhance the health of everyone, everywhere,” said Seema Kumar, Vice President, Innovation, Global Public Health and Science Policy Communication, Johnson & Johnson and member of the Johnson & Johnson Research & Development Management Committee, who simultaneously launched the challenge at the Women Leaders in Global Health Conference in London. “This is an exciting time to be part of Africa’s rapidly advancing innovation ecosystem, which recognizes that people and patients across the continent are waiting for urgent solutions. The Africa Innovation Challenge provides an important platform to support emerging entrepreneurs and help accelerate the development of unique, sustainable health care and environmental solutions.”
“The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies comprises of one of the world’s largest health care companies and is drawing on over 85 years of engagement in Africa in over 25 countries, and we are proud to support Africa’s rapidly advancing innovation ecosystem,” said Alma Scott, Vice President, Operations and Partnerships, Global Public Health, Johnson & Johnson. “We’ve learned over time that solving last-mile challenges through local empowerment offers the greatest potential impact in the fight against public health challenges, and that it can also help fuel the local economy and catalyze infrastructure investments.”
The challenge’s six new solution categories aim to address significant threats to Africa’s health care systems and environment:
- Botanical Solutions: 60 to 80% of households in Africa still rely on traditional medicine to care for themselves and loved ones. The challenge is looking for naturally-derived, plant-based solutions that tap into traditional knowledge and deliver consumer health and wellness benefits through topical application.
- Packaging Innovations: Managing packaging waste from the increasing consumption in Africa is a challenge for many communities. The competition is seeking sustainable innovations for packaging of single-dose units and other affordable product sizes that will reduce or eliminate waste, while protecting the product.
- Mental Health: Caring for someone with mental illness, especially the youth, can be very challenging for rural communities. As a result, 75 to 85% of persons living with mental illness in Africa may not have access to mental health care. Innovations that create awareness for mental illness as a public health problem and offer solutions for patients, caregivers, and their communities to address these issues will have key advantage.
- Health Worker Support: African frontline health workers experience high rates of stress and burnout due to the heavy burden of disease and marked health system challenges. The competition welcomes innovations that support the wellbeing and resilience of nurses, midwives and community health workers at the heart of delivering care.
- Digital Health Tools: The African continent has the world’s poorest health outcomes, with HIV, TB, Mental Health, Maternal Health and Ebola having especially large impact particularly on women. Priority are digital tools (including apps and other mobile/web/data enabled tech) for these important health care areas that can inform, educate, communicate and connect people to treatment, support and care through their reach and information and improve health outcomes especially for women.
- Essential Surgical Care: A significant portion of the burden of disease in Africa can be treated with surgery. However, many health facilities in certain areas do not have the capacity to deliver even basic surgical services. Innovations that promote access to timely, safe, and skilled surgical care will have the edge.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO