One of the defining qualities of industrialised economies is the increasing concentration of populations into towns and cities in what is often dubbed as mass urbanisation. With technology deeply rooted in many Asian territories now taking the world by storm, Asia has been leading the race towards mass urbanisation. This has led to Asia becoming home to the most number of megacities in the world.

As a result, Asia also faces distinctive problems rendered by the melting pot it has become, experiencing varied needs and rituals that interconnect and form new influences and habits. Because of this, there is also a growing need for unique solutions.

This is the main thrust of the L’Oréal Innovation Runway 2019: to partner with startups and small enterprises in the Asia Pacific region and beyond, covering multiple industries and technology verticals that collectively seek to create a more livable world for our posterity.

For the third edition of this start-up challenge, the theme revolves around the urban future, coalescing different challenges that arise from urbanisation.

L’Oréal Innovation Runway 2019 Challenge Categories

The challenge categories for this year’s L’Oréal Innovation Runway (LIR) are divided into three main factions covering a full range of concerns surrounding urbanisation. The first category is aptly titled Diverse & Interconnected — intended to address unique needs of people in culturally diverse spaces.

On the other hand, the Urban Living category focuses on bringing both environmental and lifestyle stressors under one umbrella. The category is keen on looking for innovative solutions such as wearables, materials, devices that respond and adapt to different environments and situations.

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Lastly, under the Sustainability category whose primary concern revolves around environmental and societal impact, a unique set of innovative solutions are being sought in line with L’Oréal Sustainability commitment: Sharing Beauty With All. This category is looking for ideas such as zero waste solutions, circular economy, urban farming, etc. The complete list can be found on their official page.

Applications are now open, and will close on 15 September. By October, applicants can expect an announcement regarding the shortlist of participants, during which time an exclusive mentoring session for semi-finalists will be conducted by Get in The Ring and L’Oréal Tech Experts.

The semi-finals will happen on 8 November together with NUS Enterprise while the finals and announcement of winners will happen on 11 November at SFF x SWITCH.

Why join the L’Oréal Innovation Runway 2019?

During the competition’s 2018 edition, 11 teams out of over a hundred applicants were selected to pitch at the semi-finals in Singapore.

“What a day and a half it was at the L’Oréal Innovation Runway! A well-organized and high energy event! Winning the L’Oréal Innovation Runway award is a great validation of the String technology platform and long term potential,” said 2018 winner Stringbio.

They added, “we look forward to working together with L’Oréal to take sustainable products to market that will have tremendous impact on everyday lives.”

The programme, however, wasn’t only beneficial to its lone winner. PT Evogaia Karya Indonesia, a finalist from last year, said “I am honoured and grateful as a finalist of L’Oréal Innovation Runway 2018, and I am excited for the opportunity to be working with L’Oréal as it is empowering to be a woman and innovator through R&D.”

They added, “The impact which manifests from such collaboration can only enable more creativity and development in the field of sustainability.”

The same sentiment is echoed by 2017 winner, Austrianova, who said “Following the excitement of Austrianova’s win at the Innovation Runway startup challenge in 2017, we have solidified our relationship with L’Oréal by embarking on a multi-pronged project to assess possibilities for using Austrianova’s Bac-in-a-Box® technology for innovative cosmetics products.”

This testimony underscores L’Oréal’s commitment to supporting and collaborating with startups who propose fresh and innovative ideas, even years after their participation in the contest.

Austrianova further explained, “Since Bac-in-a-Box® capsules have already provided strong evidence towards new functionalities for enabling next generation cosmetics and cosmeceuticals, research and development are continuing, and relationships are strengthening further.”

Not just a beauty contest

L’Oréal is a French personal care company headquartered in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine with a registered office in Paris. It is the world’s largest cosmetics company and has developed activities in the field concentrating on hair colour, skin care, sun protection, make-up, perfume, and hair care.

Throughout its run, the L’Oréal Innovation Runway has always welcomed innovative solutions that transcend beyond its beauty brand. In keeping with this, the programme welcomes solutions from different verticals and inspirations from across multiple industries.

Whether these are solutions that address challenges in the food industry, in agriculture, in manufacturing, or even in film and photography, the L’Oréal Innovation Runway welcomes cutting-edge technologies and brilliant new ideas across all sectors.

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More importantly, the programme opens its doors to a variety of technologies including smart material, data, bio-technology, 3D modeling, imaging, advanced materials, smart home, green technology, and virtual reality among many others in its roster of participation.

With all these given variables, the programme offers exciting prizes and incentives for those who wish to participate. Participants stand to win the opportunity to work with L’Oréal, gain access to mentors and industry networks through L’Oréal and its partners, Enterprise SG, and Get in The Ring.

Other than the mentorship, the access to industry networks, and industry exposure, the programme also opens up opportunities for conducting pilot studies and developing long-term strategic partnerships through L’Oréal’s leading R&D expertise in beauty.

Two winners will be awarded $5,000 SGD cash prizes, while another two will win $50,000 SGD Startup SG grants. In addition, the two winners of the Startup SG grant will be fast-tracked to the qualifying round of Slingshot 2019 powered by Startup SG.

How to join

For more information on the L’Oréal Innovation Runway 2019, you may visit them here. All application details are supplied in their official page and may be accessed by anyone who is interested in being part of the programme.

The L’Oréal Innovation Runway 2019 will also be conducting a series of roadshows leading up to the dates of the event, with the first one happening in Singapore on 16 August, at Tencel Studio, The Cocoon Space, while the second one happening in Jakarta will be held on 21 August, at BLOCK71 Jakarta Ariobimo Sentral.