Johnson & Johnson have announced the three winners of the first Africa Innovation Challenge.

The Africa Innovation Challenge launched in November 2016 and received nearly 500 submissions from innovators and entrepreneurs from across the African continent.

The competition sought the best ideas for new, sustainable health solutions that will benefit African communities, with a focus on three critical health areas: promoting early child development and maternal health; empowering young women; and improving family well-being.

“Africa is one of the fastest growing regions of the world, and Johnson & Johnson is proud to support this growth through strong collaborations that encourage innovation and accelerate advancements in the continent’s health systems,” said Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson, Dr Paul Stoffels.

“We are seeing a surge of activity among entrepreneurs and health system leaders to develop important solutions that overcome longstanding health and societal challenges. By working together, we hope to bring meaningful solutions to patients and consumers more rapidly, to help cultivate the next generation of scientists, and to support Africa’s entrepreneurial base,” continued Dr Stoffels.

The three winning concepts embraced these themes as well as the goal of creating on-going, sustainable businesses.

Project Agateka, Burundi

Project Agateka is a sustainable solution to support girls who are unable to afford menstrual pads and underwear. Project Agateka will provide a direct health solution as well as the opportunity for women and girls to generate income in Burundi. With the inclusion of health information, the initiative also provides health education to support improved sexual and reproductive health.

Project Kernel Fresh, Liberia

Project Kernel Fresh sources natural palm kernels from smallholder women farmers, increasing their income. The entrepreneur cold presses the palm kernel oil to be used in organic cosmetics. The project will also create jobs for young women by training them to sell the products throughout Liberia.

Project Pedal Tap, Uganda

Project Pedal Tap seeks to prevent disease transmission and a reduction of water use by developing hands-free solutions for hand water taps in Uganda. The entrepreneurs will create manufacturing capabilities, using mostly recycled materials, which will lead to an on-going business.

“This was an extremely difficult competition to judge as there were many terrific ideas,” said CTO at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., Josh Ghaim, PhD.

“The three winning projects demonstrated a strong benefit to local communities and the ability to empower young women, and they also have the potential to deliver on-going economic support. We look forward to working with these entrepreneurs over the course of the next year to help them build sustainable operations,” concluded Ghaim.

Each of the three winning recipients will receive funding as well as mentorship from scientists, engineers, and operations members from the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Research & Development organisation and other areas of the company.

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