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Invisible Shield QuickFire Challenge Awardee, Taza Aya, Recognized at BARDA Industry Day

October 27, 2020 -
9 months ago
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October 27, 2020 —  Johnson & Johnson Innovation, together with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), announced today that Taza Aya has been selected as the awardee in the Invisible Shield QuickFire Challenge.  Taza Aya specializes in non-thermal plasmas used to sterilize or deodorize ventilation air across a range of industries and applications. The Challenge invited innovators to submit ideas for potential solutions that repel and protect against airborne viruses while integrating seamlessly into everyday life.

“Following up to last year’s Reimagining Respiratory Protection QuickFire Challenge, which awarded support to improve outdated face mask technologies, we envisioned the need for future of pathogen protection to go beyond traditional respiratory devices, and integrate seamlessly into our daily lives, becoming an “invisible shield” against disease,” explains Melinda Richter, Global Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS. “We believe Taza Aya demonstrates ingenuity and exceptional vision in their aim to deliver respiratory protection to individuals, families, and communities around the world.”

Herek Clack, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Taza Aya’s CEO and co-founder, described his company’s concept as protection that aims to have “no restrictions to breathing or facial access.”

“We’re looking to potentially move beyond what everyone knows as the current standards for personal respiratory protections: the N95 masks, cloth masks and neck gaiters we’ve come to rely on in 2020,” Clack said. “These all rely on the conventional method of particle filtration via a largely impermeable medium. We’re looking at an entirely different paradigm here.”

Taza Aya will receive $200,000 in funding from BARDA, access to the Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS ecosystem, and technical assistance in in developing their ideas from BARDA for one year, aimed to support health security products and technologies in biotechnology, life science research, and medical innovations as they navigate research, development, and regulatory pathways.

The QuickFire Challenges are managed by Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JLABS, with the goal to address today’s greatest health care challenges.


The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, invests in the innovation, advanced research and development, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures – vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products needed to combat health security threats. To date, 55 BARDA-supported products have achieved FDA approval, licensure or clearance. For more on BARDA’s portfolio for COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and treatments and about partnering with BARDA, visit medicalcountermeasures.gov.

About the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson

At the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, we are working to create a world without disease. Transforming lives by finding new and better ways to prevent, intercept, treat and cure disease inspires us. We bring together the best minds and pursue the most promising science. We are Janssen. We collaborate with the world for the health of everyone in it. Learn more at www.janssen.com. Follow us at @JanssenGlobal.

About Johnson & Johnson Innovation

Johnson & Johnson Innovation, LLC focuses on accelerating all stages of innovation worldwide and forming collaborations between entrepreneurs and Johnson & Johnson’s global healthcare businesses. Johnson & Johnson Innovation provides scientists, entrepreneurs and emerging companies with one-stop access to science and technology experts who can facilitate collaborations across the pharmaceutical, medical device and consumer companies of Johnson & Johnson. Under the Johnson & Johnson Innovation umbrella of businesses, we connect with innovators through our regional Innovation Centers; Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JLABS; Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc.; and our business development teams to create customized deals and novel collaborations that speed development of innovations to solve unmet needs in patients. JLABS provides the laboratories, expertise, education, tools and resources needed to help life science startups thrive, all with no strings attached. A Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center for Device Innovation at the Texas Medical Center (CDI @ TMC) has been established to accelerate the development of medical devices. For more information about Johnson & Johnson Innovation, please visit: www.jnjinnovation.com.

About Johnson & Johnson Innovation — JLABS

Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS (JLABS) is a global network of open innovation ecosystems, enabling and empowering innovators across a broad healthcare spectrum including pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and health tech sectors to create and accelerate the delivery of life-saving, life-enhancing health and wellness solutions to patients around the world. JLABS achieves this by providing the optimal environment for emerging companies to catalyze growth and optimize their research and development by opening them to vital industry connections, delivering entrepreneurial programs and providing a capital-efficient, flexible platform where they can transform the scientific discoveries of today into the breakthrough healthcare solutions of tomorrow. At JLABS, we value great ideas and are passionate about removing obstacles to success to help innovators unleash the potential of their early scientific discoveries. JLABS is a no-strings-attached model, which means entrepreneurs are free to develop their science while holding on to their intellectual property. JLABS also produces campaigns to seek out the best science called QuickFire Challenges. For more information, visit www.jlabs.jnjinnovation.com or follow @JLABS.

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