QuickFire Challenge Launched in Korea to Advance Healthcare Innovations

Joana Carvalho, PhD avatar

by Joana Carvalho, PhD |

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Janssen Korea and Johnson & Johnson Innovation have launched an initiative to help advance breakthrough innovations to improve patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those that can potentially diagnose pulmonary hypertension rapidly and early.

The initiative, named “Seoul Innovation QuickFire Challenge for Healthcare in the New Normal,” is currently accepting submissions of ideas that create and accelerate the development of new therapies, medical devices, and healthcare platforms from applicants worldwide. It is also supported by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Korea Health Industry Development Institute.

Specific areas of interest include rapid diagnostic methods for detecting rare diseases, particularly pulmonary hypertension, in their earlier stages; companion diagnostic tests for cancer; health technologies focused on big data and artificial intelligence; electronic healthcare platforms that support patients and physicians in making informed decisions; and smart systems that improve the distribution of vaccines and patient adherence to treatment.

“Almost overnight, the life sciences community around the world has mobilized to respond to COVID-19,” Jenny Zheng, managing director of Janssen North Asia, said in a press release. “At the same time, the pandemic is a pressure test on innovators’ ability to bring their ideas to life.”

“In collaboration with local leaders, we are working to support the entrepreneurial community to provide much needed resources in this new normal in healthcare,” she said. “We must innovate more and innovate fast.”

In this fourth edition of the Seoul Innovation QuickFire Challenge, up to two awardees will receive up to KRW150,000,000 (approximately $125,000 US) in grant funding, as well as one year of residency at the Seoul Bio Hub, and access to coaching and resources provided by the Johnson & Johnson Innovation — JLABS global network.

JLABS is a worldwide network of life science incubators that created the QuickFire Challenge to encourage students, researchers, entrepreneurs, and start-ups to come up with groundbreaking ideas to tackle a multitude of healthcare challenges.

“As the world continues to rapidly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, forward-thinking innovations are critical to fill the gaps in medical care, addressing the needs of patients now and preparing for what may lie ahead,” said Melinda Richter, global head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation — JLABS.

“COVID-19 has changed our everyday lives, and we recognize that this ‘new normal’ may likely be long-lasting,” she added.

Applications may be submitted until Aug. 31 at the QuickFire Challenge website, which includes information about terms and conditions of the initiative, participant eligibility, and the application process.