At the just concluded Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, Johnson & Johnson announced the Champions of Science Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0, the second edition of a continent-wide competition calling on Africans to submit ideas for innovative technologies, products and solutions that have the potential to create a positive impact in African communities.
The competition focuses on identifying scalable and sustainable solutions to six major health and environmental issues in Africa including mental health, digital health, support for health workers, botanical solutions, packaging, and essential surgical care. It is designed to address the critical unmet needs of the continent and her local communities while providing support to entrepreneurs in creating these innovative solutions.
According to Josh Ghaim, Chief Technology Officer, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., the growing number of innovation hubs across the continent is sparking a new generation of entrepreneurs who are innovating and finding new solutions to issues facing their communities.
“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,” said Ghaim.
Seema Kumar, Vice President, Innovation, Global Public Health and Science Policy Communication, Johnson & Johnson stated that the company believes that great idea can come from anyone, anywhere, and therefore works with entrepreneurs around the world to relentlessly create innovations that advance and enhance the health of people globally.
“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,” Kumar said.
As part of the selection criteria, participants must be African-based, and submissions may be by one or more individuals, teams or companies; subject to certain eligibility requirements set out in the terms and conditions for the challenge. Entries must be innovative and creative and must address at least one of the six challenge categories. Entries must demonstrate the potential for scale from proof of concept to long-term sustainability and must outline how the prize would help reach a critical milestone within a year, plus a full commercialization plan.
The challenge will award participants with the best solutions 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 the new solutions forward.
“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.”