Q&A with Tyrone Mao: Accelerating the Next Generation of Consumer Health Solutions in Asia Pacific and Beyond

As convenience and personalization rise in priority, innovators are rethinking the complete consumer experience when developing solutions. Companies are no longer only focused on product innovation. Today, critical innovation also emerges from reimagining consumer experiences, new ingredients, new business models, supply chains or the way solutions are delivered directly to consumers, particularly in light of digitalization.

As part of the Johnson & Johnson Asia Pacific Innovation Center, Consumer Health R&D aims to identify breakthrough innovation across Asia Pacific that focuses on the greatest unmet needs in consumer health, including but not limited to Self Care, Skin Health and Essential Health.

To learn more about Johnson & Johnson’s strategic approaches in Consumer Health as well as our external collaboration model, we spoke with Tyrone Mao, Head of Consumer Health External Innovation, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, Asia Pacific. 

In this role, Tyrone is responsible for scouting and evaluating early-stage technologies and opportunities and managing external partnerships within the Consumer Sector in Asia Pacific. Previously, Tyrone held the roles of Senior Director of Global Engineering, Asia Pacific and Site Leader of the Emerging Market Innovation Center at Johnson & Johnson Consumer China. 

Q: Can you introduce what consumer health means to your team and outline Johnson & Johnson’s strategy in this area?

Tyrone: Certainly, at Johnson & Johnson we break consumer health into three key categories: Skin Health, Self Care and Essential Health. Our aim is to produce solutions that are rooted in science and supported by professionals.

For example, in Essential Health, we’re interested in pursuing new ways that will continue to grow our iconic brands like JOHNSON’s and LISTERINE. Whereas for Self Care, we’re interested in understanding how we can integrate new business models with existing healthcare providers to expand businesses and embrace news ways of serving and engaging consumers and patients, including ways to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) and various digital technologies.

As for Skin Health, this is perhaps one of our most exciting areas because we support a lot of start-ups and place great importance on collaborative initiatives to drive rapid innovation and growth for skin care solutions. We categorize the consumers’ skin needs in four different stages: pre-aging & quality aging, clear skin, resilient skin and protected skin. And we are taking a clean, sustainable and inclusive systems health approach to address these individual needs.

Q: Can you elaborate on how you work with consumer health start-ups and innovators in skin care?

Tyrone: We scout for and work with external innovators in all the Consumer Health groups, but skin care is currently where we engage with the most external strategic partners. At Johnson & Johnson Innovation, we can provide access to our Research and Development (R&D) resources and a flexible collaboration model to help accelerate products or solutions to commercialization.

We are looking for the next disruptive technologies that can be accelerated to consumers through co-development with our internal scientific teams, and introduced to the market through our world-class marketing, manufacturing and regulatory capabilities. We offer support from incubation facilities to early-stage investing.

We are also increasingly interested in working with more mature start-ups who may have already begun to commercialize their products because there are often exciting opportunities for synergies. For example, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health can help with distribution or the identification of new ways to leverage technologies.

Partnering with Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health often lends credibility to new start-ups, but it's equally valuable for us. Although we’re a global firm, there’s always something new for us to learn from small and nimble companies. Whether it’s a new business model or consumer data/acceptance rates, the market feedback our strategic partners receive is as insightful to us as it is for them. The result is a win-win situation for everyone involved!

Q: Can you tell us about any recent collaborations your team has worked on?

Tyrone: Of course. We collaborate with innovators of all levels from start-ups to established companies. Back in 2018, we introduced the microneedle technology in collaboration with Korea-based start-up company Raphas to leverage their technology in tandem with our NeoStrata anti-aging essence through internal R&D. This eventually gave rise to Johnson & Johnson's first micro-cone patch which are now still being marketed in North America with impressive business results!


Just recently in August this year, we entered into an agreement with China-based Beijing Urgaze Technology Co. Ltd. to evaluate the efficacy of their newly launched UV imaging device that can provide consumers with the information needed to determine the effectiveness of their sunscreen protection.

And just a few weeks ago, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health China and Johnson & Johnson Innovation together with Alibaba’s Zhejiang Tmall Technology Co., Ltd. launched the Skincare of the Future QuickFire Challenge, calling for new innovative products, services and technologies to help consumers tackle some of the world’s toughest skincare challenges.


Q: Can you tell us more about the Skincare of the Future QuickFire Challenge? Who can take part?


Tyrone: Like I just mentioned, the Skincare of the Future QuickFire Challenge was launched in collaboration with Tmall, China’s largest e-commerce platform, and is another example of how we work with the external ecosystem to drive and accelerate healthcare innovation. In this case, we are combining Johnson & Johnson Innovation's global network and Tmall's powerful consumer insights and platform.

With the QuickFire Challenge, we are inviting and encouraging innovators, scientists, academia, organizations and companies to submit products, services and technologies aimed at addressing the world’s toughest skincare challenges, with a specific focus on pore minimizing and anti-aging solution.

The two most promising solutions will receive up to US$50,000 in grant funding, one year of residency at JLABS @ Shanghai, mentorship from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, as well as support from Tmall in cultivating and commercializing their product in the Chinese market.

The deadline to apply is October 26, 2020 and it is open to anyone with a great idea! If you are interested, follow the link here to apply: https://jlabs.jnjinnovation.com/quickfire-challenges/skincare-future-quick-fire-challenge  

Q: If we’re interested in working with you, how can we reach out?

Tyrone: We are committed to discovering and scouting potential opportunities in Consumer Health with full scale. If you are working on the next breakthrough solution in any of the above mentioned areas, we would like to hear from you! To understand more about the Asia Pacific Innovation Center, follow the link to our contacts here: https://jnjinnovation.com/sites/jji/files/2020-10/9933_J%26J_Innov_JJI_Template_Updates_Asia_OnePager_EN_1007_v2.pdf

We also host local events and virtual meetings each month to stay engaged and connected with the ecosystem. On 21 October 2020, join us for our first virtual meeting focused on consumer health. Registrations are now open for the ‘Advancing Innovative Solutions for the Future of Consumer Health’ virtual meeting hosted by the Johnson & Johnson Asia Pacific Innovation Center. Follow the link here to register now! https://jnjmeetings.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_zFg8ewXjTjOVVmaopxwSvg

Or scan the QR code below from your WeChat for more updates on the agenda and speaker line-up. We’ll see you there!

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