Johnson & Johnson beauty challenge crowdsources new skincare tech

Calling all digital entrepreneurs: Johnson & Johnson is looking for creative tech skincare solutions in its Digital Beauty QuickFire Challenge. The contest runs through Jan. 19, with entries expected to address skin health management, skincare personalization and even technology that could improve skin health in the face of harder-to-treat issues such as acne and eczema.

The winner—or winners—will get up to $50,000, plus one year of residency at Johnson & Johnson Innovation incubator JLABS with space and access to expertise inside the pharma and consumer healthcare giant.

“We’re looking for novel, future forward, digital beauty solutions and we’re looking to tackle really tough consumer skincare problems,” Naomi Furgiuele, J&J vice president of global face and sun R&D, said. “We’re hoping to find solutions that are meaningful, engaging, that pull technologies from other industries and solutions that are fun. It’s only going to work to fill a need for the consumer if they’re engaged in it and if they’re compliant and they use it regularly. That’s why the element of engaging and fun is important, because that will help drive compliance.”

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This is far from J&J’s first dive into entrepreneurial partnerships. Over the past five years of JLABS, which exists as a J&J-funded incubator lab for partners with ideas across a wide range of development areas, the company has worked with more than 300 outside businesses.

Furgiuele pointed to one skincare partnership as an example of the kind of idea that might come through the challenge. The Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask, as well as the Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment, were originally developed by outside entrepreneur Jay Tapper when J&J bought his company and partnered to tweak and improve the mask.

J&J will get the word about the challenge out on social media, including partnering with beauty influencers to reach entrepreneurs.

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“We’re really hoping to spark an idea or the interest of an entrepreneur both in the space as well as those innovating elsewhere who might be sparked to see how it may apply to the beauty industry,” Furgiuele said.

Johnson & Johnson consumer skincare product brands include Neutrogena, Clean & Clear and Aveeno, and the company's pharma division, Janssen, boasts skin treatments, too. Psoriasis blockbuster Stelara has faced competition in the last couple of years from some next-gen agents, but the company recently entered the game with its own new-age treatment, Tremfya.