It was a fantastic opportunity for Irish Tech News to make it to this years #Slush17.  There were all sorts of challenges and innovations running on whilst I was there but one that did particularly strike a chord with me was the Finnish Baby Box Challenge.  Find out more about this amazing innovation from Ben Wiegand from Janssen who spoke to us about it.


Tell us about Janssen and J&J collaboration and how it came about?

In celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the Finnish Baby Box, the Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation teams created the Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge to promote innovation in child health, childhood illness and disease detection and healthy parenting. We worked closely with Finnish partners including the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation – and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, so this has been a truly collaborative effort to inspire and nurture innovation related to childhood health.

Tell us more about your Mentorship programme and what makes your programme different?

The Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation QuickFire Challenges seek to empower and enable ground-breaking science and health solutions from among innovation communities around the world. Like many of the QuickFire Challenges, this Next-Gen Baby Box program provides mentorship to the individuals/organizations that are behind the winning ideas, in addition to financial support. We look to bring our unique global healthcare experience to innovators and entrepreneurs to enable the realization, growth and success of innovative ideas that promote health.

How long will it go on for and what type of supports will it include?

The three winning organizations, Prapela LLC (vibration technology that helps infants breathe, relax and sleep), (web-based and mobile app for pregnant women and parents to monitor pregnancy, diagnose various complaints and access home treatment guidelines) and iDE8 Ltd. (medical device for detecting the presence of elevated glucose and ketones for babies and toddlers), will receive support through 2020. In addition to funding, we will also provide mentorship to help guide the teams through their journey of growing their solutions.

The Baby Box of the Future was an excellent concept to update, what types of people applied and where from in the world?

We received 135 total applicants from around the world, all with innovative solutions to promote child health, detect childhood disease earlier and facilitate healthy parenting. More specifically, there were 75 from North America, 44 from Europe, nine from Asia, five from Australia and two from South America – truly representing the global interest in child health and further exemplifying the importance of QuickFire Challenges in nurturing innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit.

Was there any repeated themes that came up for the Baby Box?

Within the three focus areas of the challenge – promoting child health, detecting childhood illness and disease and facilitating healthy parenting – we saw several repeated themes such as bonding with infants, coping of new parents, infant sleep and breastfeeding using digital-based tools.

What made the winner(s) stand out?

Each of the seven finalists had outstanding ideas that have exciting potential, however, the three winning innovations underscored the five criteria: novelty/innovation, potential impact, feasibility/practicality, commercial potential and the overall pitch.

Will you have any other Challenges coming up in 2018?

There are a few ongoing QuickFire Challenges with closing deadlines in January, each focused on different areas such as early-stage innovation companies for use of the new JLABS at NYC space, digital beauty and the “Lab Coat of the Future.” Details for each can be found on the JLABS website (

– JLABS @ NYC – searching for the best idea, technology or solution in the areas of consumer healthcare, health technologies, medical devices and therapeutics for use of a bench, workstation and access to the JLABS @ NYC community for one year.

– Digital Beauty – looking for ideas on how to improve skincare in the areas of insights-generating tools, impact tracking devices and adherence solutions and digital technologies or devices.

– Lab Coat of the Future – looking for innovators and designers with the best ideas, technologies or solutions to re-imagine the Lab Coat of the Future in the areas of construct/shape/design, composition/materials and incorporation of new solutions (e.g. wearable technologies).

Would you like to add anything else?

We recognize the importance of sourcing innovation from around the world and working collaboratively with stakeholders and partners across the innovation ecosystem. It is through our involvement in programs like the Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge that we can identify new solutions and make the valuable connections necessary to inspire and ultimately accelerate our vision for a future world without disease. We see a unique opportunity to change the trajectory of health for future generations.

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