Frequently Asked Questions

AFRICA INNOVATION CHALLENGE

 

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR THE AFRICA INNOVATION CHALLENGE?

Any and all citizens or permanent residents of a country in Africa, aged 18 years or older, who may have an innovative solution and detailed project plan, are welcome to apply. You could be a student at a university or an engineer in the field. If you think you have a great idea, we want to hear from you. Early-stage startups or projects that have currently raised less than the equivalent of US $250,000 (for example: equity funding, public funding and/or grants) can also apply.


WHAT ARE THE CATEGORIES OF THE AFRICA INNOVATION CHALLENGE?

There are six different categories, and applicants may apply for up to three different categories in an application:

  • Botanical Solutions

    60-80% of households in Africa still rely on traditional medicine to care for themselves and loved ones1. We are seeking 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. We are 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, 75-85% of persons living with mental illness in Africa may not have access to mental health care2. We are seeking 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.

  • 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. We are seeking innovations that promote access to timely, safe, and skilled surgical 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.  We are seeking 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.

  • 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. We are seeking innovations that support the wellbeing and resilience of nurses, midwives and community health workers at the heart of delivering care.”

WHAT KIND OF SUBMISSION ARE YOU LOOKING FOR EXACTLY?

We are looking for an idea that has a clear project plan to progress towards commercialization. Commercialization is the process of introducing a new product or solution into commerce – making it available on the market. As you are submitting your application, you will be asked several questions about your proposal so that we can better understand the feasibility of your idea. If you have a business plan to share, that is great. If you'd like to, you could also upload additional documents that support your idea, but that's not mandatory. As additional help, please find the kind of ideas we are looking for according to the six categories:

  • Example idea for Botanical SolutionsA skin lotion that contains a plant extract that soothes burns and pains.
  • Example idea for Packaging InnovationsA sturdy, reusable product pod for which consumers can purchase a refill at the store when empty.
  • Example idea for Mental HealthA mobile phone-based application that tracks and reminds patients to take their prescribed medication at appropriate times.
  • Example idea for Essential Surgical Care:  A low-cost reusable tool for early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer.
  • Example idea for Digital Health Tools: A mobile phone-based app that provides patients with accurate health care information and access services.
  • Example idea for Health Worker SupportA mobile phone-based service that provides nurses with supportive and educational messages.


WHO & HOW WILL THE PROJECTS BE JUDGED?

Applications will be reviewed by two judging committees. The first judging committee will determine the Finalists and is made up of experts (engineers, scientists, and researchers). The second judging committee will determine the winner(s). It will be made up of leadership from Johnson & Johnson and/or its affiliates, who span multiple areas of expertise including science, technology, engineering, and marketing. Your application will be judged according to the following criteria:

  • Idea submission addresses at least one of the six challenge categories (Botanical Solutions; Packaging Innovations; Mental Health; Essential Surgical Care; Digital Health Tools; Health Worker Support)
  • Idea submission is innovative and creative
  • Idea submission is scalable
  • Idea submission outlines how the award would help the applicant(s) reach a critical milestone within the timeframe of a single year and provides a commercialization plan.


WHAT IS THE SELECTION PROCESS OF THE AFRICA INNOVATION CHALLENGE?

The selection will occur in 2 distinctive phases. Applicants will be informed of their progress during the phase their application is in.

  • Finalist Selection: The first judging committee will select the top 5-10 applications of the challenge category, based on the quality of their online application. Potential Finalists might be approached for more information.
  • Winner Selection: The second judging committee will select the provisional winner(s) of the challenge from the list of Finalists. The provisional winners will be interviewed and vetted for eligibility before they are announced as winners.


IF I WIN, HOW IS THE AWARD GIVEN TO ME?

If you are deemed a winner, the award money amount will be determined based on your winning submission and provided to you in periodic payments upon achievement of development milestones, not in a lump sum amount. All work toward developing and commercializing your product solution or service must be done in Africa.

 

IS THE INFORMATION IN MY APPLICATION TREATED AS CONFIDENTIAL?

We invite Applicants to apply by submitting ONLY NON-CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION. However, if your application is selected as one of the finalists, Johnson & Johnson may ask you to submit certain confidential information regarding your application in order to assist the second judging committee in making its final selection. Should you agree to submit such confidential information, such submission will be covered by a confidentiality agreement that you and Johnson & Johnson agree to and sign before you disclose your confidential information. All information you provide will be governed by our Privacy Policy.

 

WHEN WILL I KNOW IF I’M SELECTED?

Finalists will be determined no later than March 2019. The winners will be notified no later than early May 2019.


1 Paulo Peter Mhame, Kofi Busia and Ossy MJ Kasilo. Clinical practices of African traditional medicine. WHO: The African Health Monitor Special Issue 13, August 2010. Accessed: http://ahm.afro.who.int/issue13/index.html

2 World Health Organization. Discussion Paper: Mental health, poverty and development. ECOSOC Meeting Discussion Paper, July 2009. Accessed online: http://www.who.int/nmh/publications/discussion_paper_en.pdf?ua=1