The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc the world over, having a potentially devastating impact on the health of the most vulnerable, including those living with tuberculosis (TB).
TB, the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killed 1.5 million people in 2018 – over 4,000 people a day in a pre-COVID world. Of the estimated 10 million TB cases that year, about 500,000 developed drug-resistant (DR-) TB, which does not respond to the most powerful TB medicines. DR-TB requires additional diagnostic processes and lengthy treatments. Prior to the pandemic, only an estimated 1 in 5 DR-TB patients successfully navigated their care.
COVID-19 presents new challenges and concerns, as patients and survivors with respiratory impairment and/or lung damage may be more vulnerable to serious complications from COVID-19. Beyond individual vulnerability, the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously disrupted and weakened already-fragile systems of delivering care to DR-TB patients.
There is a clear need for community engagement and innovation with the aim to solve for the continuity of DR-TB services during the pandemic and after, since health systems will take time to return to efficiency.
To that end, Johnson & Johnson’s Global Public Health team, together with Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS, is seeking innovative proposals for creative, easy-to-implement ideas – that can start having impact immediately. Submissions should address continuity of DR-TB care for patients in high-burden countries (e.g., India, Indonesia, Philippines, South Africa, Ukraine). Specifically, we are looking for ideas that address one or more of the following areas:
- Remote consultations and follow-up
- Home-based and/or digital patient support for sustaining TB treatment adherence & completion
- Access to care for adverse events without leaving the home
- Connections to support mental health, nutrition, address social isolation, and peer-to-peer support as well as social benefits
Up to five innovators with the best ideas, technologies, or potential solutions could be awarded grant funding from a total of $250,000*. Awardees will also have the opportunity to engage with experts at the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies to help support bringing their ideas to life.
* Up to $50,000 in grant funding each for up to five awardees
 WHO World TB report 2019 https://www.who.int/tb/publications/global_report/en/
Why this challenge matters
There is an urgent need for community engagement, innovation and digital potential solutions to reconnect a world in isolation. In additional to an unprecedented R&D effort to develop new tests, treatments and vaccines, the COVID-19 pandemic is inspiring a range of interesting remote/online care delivery models.  Applying this creativity and innovation for DR-TB patients during the ongoing crisis could potentially help save countless lives. With the knowledge of community-based organizations, advocates and entrepreneurs, we could help work to solve for how we empower DR-TB patients in the fight of their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What we’re looking for
The goal of this challenge is to discover potential solutions that could support people diagnosed with and undergoing treatment for DR-TB in settings heavily impacted by Covid-19 and lockdowns. Submitted ideas should include the following considerations:
- Feasibility and practicality
- Patient-centered approach with maximum impact
- Rapid implementation to begin reaching patients quickly
Area of focus
- Community Health Approaches
- Health Technologies and supporting devices
- Patient Care Solutions
- Feasibility and practicality
- Patient-centered approach
- Rapid implementation to begin reaching patients quickly
- Potential long-term impact to TB patients
Applications will be evaluated by a group of subject-matter experts, including:
- Guy Marks, President, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
- Madhukar Pai, Director, McGill Global Health Programs & McGill International TB Centre
- Saurabh Rane, TB Survivor and Advocate, Survivors Against TB (India)
- Lindiwe Mvusi, Director, TB Control & Management, National Department of Health, South Africa
Additional judges will be announced shortly.
- Up to five innovators with the best ideas, technologies, or potential solutions will be awarded grant funding from a total of up to $250,000.
- Engagement with experts at the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies
What if I’m having trouble accessing the portal/website?
Make sure your browser is up to date and accepting cookies. You can contact customer service at [email protected] if you are having technical difficulties as well.
Can I submit supporting documents (for example a video) as part of my application?
You will have the opportunity and are encouraged to upload supporting materials such as slide decks, research papers, and videos as part of your application. You may submit a video along with your typed responses. Maximum length is 2 minutes.
Is it ok if some of the information I submit is confidential or proprietary to a third party?
Do not submit confidential information or information proprietary to a third party. Only non-confidential information should be submitted and anything you submit will be treated as non-confidential.
What happens with IP (Intellectual Property)?
As this is a no strings attached arrangement, JLABS does not acquire any IP. Any IP creation and/or protection remains the sole responsibility of the inventors.
Is a patent required to apply?
No, a patent is not required to apply. However, you should not submit any information that you wish to keep confidential or that may negatively impact upon the future patentability of your invention.
What kind of science / technology is appropriate for the Challenges?
We encourage all to apply. Find out more about what areas we desire to explore here: https://www.jnjinnovation.com/partnering
Who is eligible to apply?
Each Challenge has its own terms & conditions that can be found prior to filling out the application, which you need to accept prior to applying.
What are the specific criteria for application?
Potential solutions will be evaluated by a panel of reviewers and judges on their ability to meet the following criteria:
- Strategic Fit to Target Use Cases
- Geography impacted by technology/potential solution
- Potential impact on targeted TB patient population
- Feasibility and practicality of the potential solution
- Manufacturing and scalability potential
- Quality and potential of team and collaborators
- Plans for use of the QFC award to advance potential solution
Who can I contact if I have questions about the Challenge or the application process?
Please contact [email protected] with any questions.
Where do I apply? And do I have to complete the application in one sitting?
Go to https://jnj-quickfire.smapply.io to learn more. From there you will be directed to set up an account.
You can setup an account at https://jnj-quickfire.smapply.io. You are able to save your work and log back in to finish at a later time if needed.
About Johnson & Johnson’s Global Public Health
Charting a bold new, self-sustainable approach, Johnson & Johnson has established the first fully-dedicated organization within a healthcare company focused on combining innovative R&D, novel access programs & approaches, in-country operations, advocacy and the power of multi-sectoral partnerships to ensure that treatments and technologies are available, affordable and accessible for the world's most under-served populations. Harnessing the extensive resources and expertise from across Johnson & Johnson, its Global Public Health team is placing an unparalleled focus on accelerating the pace of innovation needed – from discovery to delivery – to make TB and HIV history, eliminate intestinal worms, address mental health and wrestle other public health challenges. Learn more at www.jnj.com/global-public-health and follow us @JNJGlobalHealth.
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.