Meet the winners of the Champions of Science
Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0

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1:30 The Africa Innovation Challenge explained in 90 seconds

The Champions of Science
Africa Innovation Challenge

Throughout Africa, we are looking to drive entrepreneurship and help advance promising health care solutions. Chosen applicants will receive funding up to US $50,000 and technical mentoring from some of the brightest minds at Johnson & Johnson to help bring their idea to life and create meaningful change in their community or country.

Read our Launch Press Release

Read our Winners Announcement Press Release

A total amount of US $300,000 will be awarded to the winning teams

  • mentorship

Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0 health care categories

Botanical Solutions

60-80% of households in Africa still rely on traditional medicine to care for themselves and loved ones. 1 1 Paulo Peter Mhame, Kofi Busia and Ossy MJ Kasilo. Clinical practices of African traditional medicine. WHO: The African Health Monitor Special Issue 13, August 2010. Accessed online: We are seeking naturally-derived, plant-based solutions that tap into traditional knowledge and deliver consumer health and wellness benefits through topical application.

Example Ideas
An example idea for the Botanical Solutions category might include a skin lotion that contains a plant extract that soothes burns and pains.

Mental Health

Caring for someone with mental illness, especially the youth, can be very challenging for rural communities. As a result, 75-85% of persons living with mental illness in Africa may not have access to mental health care. 2 2 World Health Organization. Discussion Paper: Mental health, poverty and development. ECOSOC Meeting Discussion Paper, July 2009. Accessed online: We are seeking innovations that create awareness for mental illness as a public health problem and offer solutions for patients, caregivers, and their communities to address these issues.

Example Ideas
An example idea for the Mental Health category might include a mobile phone-based application that tracks and reminds patients to take their prescribed medication at appropriate times.

Packaging Innovations

Managing packaging waste from the increasing consumption in Africa is a challenge for many communities. We are seeking sustainable innovations for packaging of single-dose units and other affordable product sizes that will reduce or eliminate waste, while protecting the product.

Example Ideas
An example idea for the Packaging Innovations category might include a sturdy, reusable product pod for which consumers can purchase a refill at the store when empty.

Health Worker Support

African frontline health workers experience high rates of stress and burnout due to the heavy burden of disease and marked health system challenges. We are seeking innovations that support the wellbeing and resilience of nurses, midwives, and community health workers at the heart of delivering care.

Example Ideas
An example idea for the Health Worker Support category might include a mobile phone-based service that provides nurses with supportive and educational messages.

Digital Health Tools

The African continent has the world's poorest health outcomes, with HIV, TB, Mental Health, Maternal Health and Ebola having especially large impact particularly on women. We are seeking digital tools (including apps and other mobile/web/data enabled tech) for these important health care areas that can inform, educate, communicate and connect people to treatment, support and care through their reach and information and improve health outcomes especially for women.

Example Ideas
An example idea for the Digital Health Tools category might include a mobile phone-based app that provides patients with accurate health care information and access services.

Essential Surgical Care

A significant portion of the burden of disease in Africa can be treated with surgery. However, many health facilities in certain areas do not have the capacity to deliver even basic surgical services. We are seeking innovations that promote access to timely, safe, and skilled surgical care.

Example Ideas
An example idea for the Essential Surgical Care category might include a low-cost reusable tool for early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer.

Why this challenge matters to us

The Johnson & Johnson Credo lies at the heart of every aspect of our operations throughout the world. It is our undertaking to be agents of positive change in the countries in which we operate and the communities in which we live and work. 

Johnson & Johnson’s engagement in Africa dates back more than 80 years in over 25 countries. Beyond our growing commercial presence, we have worked extensively with partners based in Africa and internationally to support the underserved in local communities.

To that end, Johnson & Johnson supports the Champions of Science Africa Innovation Challenge, to encourage entrepreneurial thinking in Africa and the creation of health care solutions that address the critical unmet needs of the continent and her people.

Johnson & Johnson is not granted any rights in the ideas of applicants to the African Innovation Challenge as a result of their participation in the challenge. Applicants and winners remain free to continue the further development of their ideas on their own.

Learn more about the application process

The submitted health care solutions were evaluated based on their ability to meet the following criteria:

  • Idea submission addresses at least one of the six challenge categories (Botanical Solutions; Packaging Innovations; Mental Health; Health Worker Support; Digital Health Tools; Essential Surgical Care).
  • Idea submission is innovative and creative.
  • Idea submission is scalable.
  • Idea submission outlines how the award would help the applicant(s) reach a critical milestone within the timeframe of a single year and provides a full commercialization plan.

The application period is now closed.

Meet the mentors from
Johnson & Johnson

Meet the Winners of Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0

Crib A’glow


An estimated six million babies do not receive treatment for neonatal jaundice because they lack access to effective phototherapy devicesI. If untreated, severe jaundice can cause hearing loss, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, kernicterus and even death. Crib A’glow is a solar-powered, foldable phototherapy crib provided to hospitals, health centers and parents, even in communities where access to quality healthcare and stable electricity is poor. Crib A’glow allows jaundiced babies to receive important phototherapy to help them regain health.



More than 460 million people around the world are hearing-impairedII, and two-thirds of them live in developing countriesIII. Hearing loss can lead to unnecessary poverty and hardship in affected families and communities. DREET is a mobile phone app that allows a child in rural Africa to have their hearing tested in real time by a professional who may live thousands of miles away. Their phone-based hearing device tests the hearing in children as young as three years old, allowing parents to prepare and understand impacts of raising a hearing-impaired child, or counteracting potential developmental issues such as speech impediments due to hearing impairment.



The lack of an established blood supply network in Nigeria can make access to appropriate blood transfusion very difficult and is contributing to loss of lifeIV. LifeBank is working to change this dynamic. The company receives requests through a digital platform with the intent of delivering the necessary blood to hospitals in less than 45 minutes in a WHO Blood Transfusion Safety compliant cold chain.



The WHO recommends at least one ultrasound scan before 24 weeks’ gestation and eight total prenatal visits for expecting mothersV. Rural communities often lack access to ultrasound machines, requiring expecting mothers to spend valuable time, energy and resources on transportation to far away clinics in order to access ultrasound services. mSCAN’s device performs ultrasounds through the use of a portable probe and a tablet, laptop, or smartphone, allowing trained healthcare workers and midwives to be prepared for potential risk-factors during delivery.

The Hope Initiative


More than 50 percent of emergency care workers are at high risk for burnout given the nature of their jobsVI. The Hope Initiative builds upon research that has demonstrated the positive influence of intrinsic hope on health outcomes of healthcare workers and their patients. Using a validated metric, The Hope Initiative intends to measure hope among nurses and mothers to understand how hope intersects with healthcare worker burnout and perinatal health outcomes. The Initiative intends to identify interventions that positively influence hope and build both a sustainable team of healthcare workers and sustainable improvements in patient outcomes.



Uganda has one of the highest malaria transmission rates in the worldVII, and malaria is also one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Uganda, especially among children under five years old . Commercial mosquito repellent sprays or gels are often not available in rural shops nor are they affordable for many low-income parents. Uganics manufactures an organic, affordable soap that repels mosquitos with intent to help prevent the spread of malaria. Uganics’ soap can be utilized in a variety of ways, such as bathing, washing hands and washing clothes.

Meet the Winners of Africa Innovation Challenge 1.0

Mahmud Johnson


With Johnson & Johnson’s support, Mahmud was able to create 330 new jobs in Liberia, broaden his product portfolio of organic palm kernel oil cosmetics and grow sales by 1100%.

Grace Nakibaala


After one year of support, patent and trademark applications have been filed for the PedalTap™ device, the device is now being manufactured in Uganda, and the device has been installed in several public bathrooms, reducing the risk of infection and saving water.

Francoise Nibizi


J&J mentoring and funding helped Francoise to scale up production of Agateka pads fourfold, opening 2 new manufacturing locations and creating training and permanent jobs for 20 young women.