fbpx Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge - Challenge | JLABS
Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge
Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge

Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge

Challenge ended

Up to $350,000 USD*


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Prapela’s Stochastic Vibro-tactile Stimulation (SVS) technology produces a gentle, random vibration which promotes rhythmic breathing, helping infants relax and sleep. The stimulation is delivered from a sleeping pad in its baby box. Developed at Harvard’s Wyss Institute and the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Prapela is commercializing the technology for medical and consumer applications.

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CallMidwife.com is a web-based and mobile app for pregnant women and parents that uses evidence-based algorithms created by medical experts to enable parents to monitor their pregnancy, diagnose various complaints and access home treatment guidelines. In addition, CallMidwife.com offers 24/7 midwife consultation services via video, phone and live chat, and can provide emotional support or advice on how to cope with issues that may occur with a newborn baby.

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iDE8: The product is a low cost, single-use medical device which is used with any nappy/diaper system for the early detection of elevated glucose and ketones in a baby/toddler. It is a life-enabling product, easy to use and pain-free for the child. It is designed by parents for parents and guardians, and it allows informed decision making and early warning detection for the early onset of T1D and complications like DKA.

The Challenge

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If you have a good idea for a product, service or technology to help parents keep their babies (and themselves) healthy, Janssen Research & Development (Janssen) and Johnson & Johnson Innovation are awarding up to $350,000 in funding and mentorship opportunities to help make that idea a reality. From apps and sensors to devices, therapeutics and everything in between, there is no idea that is too big or too early.

Rewards and benefits

Up to $350,000 USD*
  • *in funding for multiple winners
  • Travel Stipend to Slush 2017
  • Mentoring & Coaching
  • Option to form a contractual collaboration to develop the science/technology with the goal of piloting in Finland over the next 1-2 years and potential to commercialize in 2020.

QuickFire Challenge innovation focus areas

Promoting Child Health

Breastfeeding: “Ease and Extend” -  Ease a better start and extend for a longer time

The decision to breastfeed is a personal choice, but breastfeeding is associated with improved health outcomes for both the child and mother.  Breastfed babies have a lower risk in childhood of asthma, obesity, ear infections, eczema, lower respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and type 2 diabetes.  Breastfeeding also helps the mother’s health and healing after childbirth and leads to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and certain types of breast and ovarian cancer in the mother.  The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby's life, followed by continuation of breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until the infants is at least 12 months (AAP) or 24 months (WHO) of age, with continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.  Many women however never start breastfeeding, and a significant number of women who do start breastfeeding report early, undesired weaning of their infants from breastmilk.  In the United States, only about 50% and 30% of infants are breastfed at 6 months and 12 months of age, respectively. In 25 WHO EU countries reporting between 1998-2013, only a median of 28% of infants were being breastfed at 12 months of age (range 1-78%). Positive breastfeeding support from physicians, nurses, and other health professionals has been shown to increase the initiation and duration of breastfeeding. This Challenge aims to address barriers to initiation and continuation of breastfeeding, with the aim of increasing the number of infants breastfed until at least 12 months of age.   

Sleep: “Go to sleep quickly and sleep longer”    

Baby sleep is a challenge for parents.  Approximately a third of parents report that their child’s sleep is problematic.  As babies grow and develop, their sleep need decreases, and as a result, daily sleep patterns change.  The two biggest challenges parents identify are getting their baby to fall asleep faster or more easily at bedtime and avoiding nighttime awakenings (i.e. helping their baby to stay asleep or fall back to sleep quickly).  Although smart baby monitors that track a baby’s sleep and apps to facilitate sleep have been developed, efficacy around babies, infants, and toddlers getting to sleep quickly and sleeping longer have not been well demonstrated.  This Challenge aims to provide parents with tools that improve the sleep health of their baby in a meaningful, impactful way.

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Detecting Childhood Illness and Disease

Home-based detection of high blood sugar associated with onset of type 1 diabetes in infants and toddlers

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a disease in which the body fails to produce the hormone insulin, which is required to metabolize glucose (sugar) as an energy source, due to the autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.  Individuals with T1D are relegated to a lifetime of checking blood sugar levels and administering a precise dose of insulin multiple times during the day to stay alive.  The majority of T1D occurs in childhood.  Initial symptoms include increased volume and frequency of urination, extreme thirst, bedwetting, and weight loss.  If undiagnosed and untreated, T1D can quickly progress to life-threatening metabolic imbalance called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).  Unfortunately, DKA, which occurs commonly in young children, can progress quickly or is often not detected until late in its course and can result in long-term health complications and even death of the affected child. The early stages of T1D are associated with increased sugar levels in the body, blood, and urine. DKA is associated with additional metabolic abnormalities, such as increased levels of ketones in the body, body fluids, and breath. This Challenge aims to develop home-based detection approaches that detect early stages of T1D in infants and toddlers to allow earlier diagnosis of T1D and avoid life-threatening DKA, as well as its associated health complications and death.

Home-based detection and assessment of severity and progression of respiratory disease in infants and toddlers

In young infants, respiratory disease- pneumonia, croup, bronchiolitis, asthma, whooping cough, etc. – occurs not infrequently and clinically can progress quickly, sometimes resulting in hospitalization. Detection of respiratory disease and contact with the health care system at an earlier time point is associated with both earlier interventions and better outcomes.  This Challenge aims to identify and develop biosensors, mobile applications, and other approaches for home-based detection of respiratory illness, and, delineation of the type of respiratory illness. Additionally, the Challenge aims to assess the severity and risk of progression of respiratory illness to aid in earlier detection, and especially illness with a poor prognosis.

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Facilitating Parenting

Emotional and physical well-being and coping of new parents

Becoming a parent is one of the most significant changes in a person’s life and involves learning many new skills while simultaneously handling new emotions, sleep deprivation, physical changes, and new responsibilities.  The WHO estimates that between 10-15% of new mothers experience clinical postpartum depression, while greater than 70% of new mothers experience a form of subclinical depression known as the “baby blues.”  Further, the WHO describes depression as a “leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.”  Much research has suggested that parents who struggle with anxiety or depression are less likely to engage in the kinds of interactions with their infants that promote healthy development, such as using infant-directed talk or making eye-contact.  Solutions that help to alleviate some of the stresses of early parenting will not only benefit most new parents, but also their infants by improving early infant-parent interactions.  This Challenge aims to provide solutions that help parents cope with the emotional and/or physical challenges of life with a young baby, as well as solutions that improve interactions or make parenting easier (e.g., ease of baby care, daily routines, or services that support new parents).

Bonding with newborns and infants

Interacting with their parents is one of the most effective way of influencing infants’ cognitive, social, and behavioral growth, and the quality of the bond between infant and parent predicts both child development and parental well-being.  However, parents often struggle with physical and time restraints when trying to engage with their infants (returning to work, needing to accomplish functional goals, distractions from other stressors) that can both decrease and degrade the interactions with their infants.  Further, many parents are unaware of what kinds of interactions or toys are developmentally appropriate for infants of different age (e.g. the age when infants first see colors) or how to help their children reach the next milestones. Research has shown that infants who are exposed to less than optimal interactions show a variety of developmental difficulties and delays.  In extreme cases, babies who are not exposed to bonding interactions have shown reduced brain volume, lower IQs, lack of language acquisition, and increased risk of health complications, as well as delay in physical development.  Great disparities exist in how babies are exposed to enriching interactions such as infant-directed talk, number of words spoken to the child, positive expressions, teaching new skills, etc.  Tools are needed that inspire more and better quality interactions between parents and their babies or that educate parents on appropriate approaches depending on developmental stage. This Challenge aims to develop tools, technologies, or services that enhance bonding and engagement, including methods of educating parents, behavioral routines, and devices that impact parent-infant bonding.

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Applications Open
Submission Deadline
Judging Process Begins
Winners Announced at Slush

In The News

  • Press Release - Press Release – Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Announce Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge Finalists - Click here
  • Article - 3 Entrepreneurs, 3 Big Ideas: Inventions That Can Help Give Babies a Healthier Start in Life - Click here
  • Blog - Winners of the Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge will be announced at Slush by VTT
  • Blog - Intervening Early to Improve the Trajectory of Health by Ben Wiegand - Click here
  • Blog - Slush is looking for a renewed maternity package by Harri Männistö - Click here
  • Blog - Tulevaisuuden äitiyspakkausta etsimässä – kansainvälinen haastekilpailu on käynnistynyt by Ville Koiste - Click here
  • Blog - Kari Kataja: Äitiyspakkauksia ja yhteiskehittämistä by Kari Kataja - Click here
  • Blog - Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge: Creating the “Baby Box of the Future” to Promote Child Health from the Start by Ben Wiegand - Click here
  • Press Release - Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Launch Next-Gen Baby Box QuickFire Challenge in Collaboration with Sitra, Tekes and VTT - Click here

Frequently Asked Questions

What is being awarded and over what period of time?

We are looking for both early-stage and later-stage ideas. The award process will be divided into 3 Phases across several years:

  • Phase 1: Following submissions, select finalists may receive up to $250,000 in funding including a travel stipend and be provided structured mentorship.  Finalists will pitch their ideas at Slush, Europe’s leading start-up and technology event, in Helsinki, Finland.
  • Phase 2: Winner(s) may be offered a contractual partnership to develop their science/technology with the goal of piloting in Finland over the next 1-2 years.
  • Phase 3: Winner(s) with the most impact through the pilot studies may receive up to $100,000 to support commercialization with a goal of proof of concept by 2020.
What kind of questions will be in the application?

All applicants must answer the following questions:

  • What is your idea or innovation and why is it unique?
  • Will it work?
  • What are the next steps or issues that need to be addressed and what are possible challenges you may face in delivering on your idea or innovation? 
  • What talent and resources have you identified or secured to address your idea or innovation?
Am I eligible to apply?

For further information on eligibility for this QuickFire Challenge, please refer to the Terms & Conditions presented in the application form.

Do applicants have to reside in Finland in order to apply?

No, this is a global challenge. However, if selected as a winner, the finalist pitching and the piloting will take place in Finland.

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. The maximum length for a video is 2 minutes.

Who can I ask about specific questions on the application?

Please contact [email protected] with any questions.

Why this challenge matters to us

Janssen is working toward a vision of a world without disease enabled, in part, by disease interception, an approach that aims to address the root causes of disease, intervening earlier than today’s clinically accepted point of diagnosis and seeking solutions that stop, reverse or inhibit progression to disease. Science indicates that some of these root causes may be initiated during the perinatal period, a period prior to and after a child’s birth.

Through this collaborative initiative, Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, an independent public fund which under the supervision of the Finnish Parliament promotes the welfare of Finnish society, Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, a publicly-funded expert organization financing research, development and innovation in Finland, and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the leading research and technology company in the Nordic countries, together with Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation, are focused on creating a better ecosystem for improving the health of children.

Application process

Solutions will be evaluated by a panel of reviewers and judges in two categories:

  • Ideation solutions = Very early ideas
  • Breakthrough solutions = Developed products and technologies

Solutions will be evaluated by a panel of reviewers and judges on their ability to meet the following criteria:

  • Novelty
  • Potential Impact
  • Feasibility/Practicality
  • Perceived Commercialization Potential

About the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies 

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 Twitter.com/JanssenGlobal.


About Johnson & Johnson Innovation 


Johnson & Johnson Innovation 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 - JLINX, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC and our Business Development teams to create customized deals and novel 4 collaborations that speed development of innovations to solve unmet needs in patients. For more information, visit www.jnjinnovation.com or follow @JNJInnovation.


About Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS


Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS (JLABS) is a global network of open innovation ecosystems, enabling and empowering innovators 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 is open to entrepreneurs across a broad healthcare spectrum including pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and digital health sectors.

JLABS currently has nine locations in innovation hot spots across North America and produces entrepreneurial programs and campaigns to seek out the best science, like the QuickFire Challenges around the globe. The JLABS flagship opened in 2012 in San Diego at Janssen's West Coast Research Center, and since then, has established two locations in San Francisco - one through a collaboration with the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) and a second standalone facility in South San Francisco.  JLABS is also located in Boston through a collaboration with LabCentral, in Lowell, Massachusetts through a collaboration with UMass, in Houston through a collaboration with the Texas Medical Center (TMC), in Toronto through a collaboration with the Ontario Government and the University of Toronto and a new JLABS @ NYC (in collaboration with the New York Genome Center -opening in 2018).  For more information about JLABS, please visit www.jlabs.jnjinnovation.com.


Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra


Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund is an independent public fund which under the supervision of the Finnish Parliament promotes the welfare of Finnish society. Since its establishments, Sitra’s duty has been to promote stable and balanced development in Finland, the qualitative and quantitative growth of its economy and its international competitiveness and co-operation. Our operations are governed by a vision of a successful and skilled Finland.


About Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation


Tekes is the most important publicly funded expert organisation for financing research, development and innovation in Finland. We boost wide-ranging innovation activities in research communities, industry and service sectors. Tekes promotes a broad-based view on innovation: besides funding technological breakthroughs, Tekes emphasises the significance of service-related, design, business, and social innovations. Research, development and innovation funding is targeted to projects that create in the long-term the greatest benefits for the economy and society. For more information, please visit www.tekes.fi/en.


About VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd


VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is the leading research and technology company in the Nordic countries. We use our research and knowledge to provide expert services for our domestic and international customers and partners, and for both private and public sectors. Our main fields are knowledge intensive products and services, smart industry and energy systems and solutions for natural resources and environment. We develop new smart technologies, profitable solutions and innovative services. We cooperate with our customers to produce technology for business and build success and well-being for the benefit of society. We use 4,000,000 hours of brainpower a year to develop new technological solutions. For more information, please visit www.vttresearch.com.