The IDea Incubator and JLABS are both focused on encouraging big thinkers to find innovative potential solutions for improving global health through science and technology. This year, there’s an exciting new opportunity!
Up to three IDea Incubator applicants have the chance to apply and be selected for BLUE KNIGHT™ residency through JLABS, either at select physical JLABS locations or virtually*.
Through Blue Knight, JLABS is collaborating with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to spur innovation in mutual areas of interest.
We spoke with Rachel Rath, MBA, MPH, director of the BARDA Alliance for JLABS, to discuss how Blue Knight enhances and diversifies the opportunities IDea Incubator provides. Rachel shared her insight on why you should apply to the 2021 IDea Incubator to be considered for Blue Knight residency.
The IDSA Foundation and Johnson & Johnson Innovation — JLABS (‘JLABS’) are collaborating for a second year to host the 2021 IDea Incubator competition. What do you find most exciting about this continued collaboration?
Rath: Through this collaboration, we’re encouraging big thinkers to get creative in their approach to improving global health through science and technology, while creating a platform that increases visibility and access to early-stage ideas. At Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS, and through our BLUE KNIGHT™ initiative with BARDA, we’re always looking for the next potentially groundbreaking idea that aims to disrupt and transform our current approaches to combatting emerging infectious disease. The IDea Incubator has the potential to accelerate this mission by creating a touch point with leading infectious disease innovators – and this year, I’m thrilled that the IDea Incubator may award up to three applicant startups with a Blue Knight residency opportunity.
New this year, applicants have the opportunity to apply for BLUE KNIGHT™ residency. How does the Blue Knight opportunity complement the benefits of the IDea Incubator competition?
Rath: In alignment with the IDSA Foundation, Blue Knight is dedicated to helping reduce the global burdens of infectious diseases. Our initiative was founded under a mission to ignite innovation that may improve health security by supporting startups focused on public health threats and emerging infectious disease.
By awarding up to three IDea Incubator applicants potential Blue Knight residency, we are diversifying the IDea Incubator rewards beyond the traditional monetary prizes and visibility opportunities during IDWeek. Now, eligible applicant companies may be offered access to the benefits associated with Blue Knight residency – including fee assistance, access to JLABS space, dedicated equipment at select JLABS locations, and dedicated mentorship from BARDA and the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. This may also increase the total number of awarded companies, as applicants selected for Blue Knight residency may differ from IDea Incubator finalists.
Can you share how Blue Knight residency can be particularly beneficial to new innovators and early-stage ventures?
Rath: In addition to physical access and fee assistance for certain costs associated with JLABS equipment and resources, Blue Knight companies will gain dedicated, cross-sector mentorship from experts within the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies and BARDA with the aim to help develop their ideas and navigate research, development and regulatory pathways as they work toward the realization of their prospective health security products and technologies.
To help further advance their ideas, Blue Knight companies will also gain access to educational programming and symposia that is customized to their needs; aligned with key areas of interest in infectious disease, public health and company acceleration; and may present opportunities for company visibility or speaking engagements.
You’ve worked closely with Blue Knight companies to help ensure their potential success. What has been the most rewarding part of working with these companies?
In my role, I have the privilege of collaborating with earlier stage innovators who are tackling the complex challenges – both known and unknown – that health threats may pose in the future. It’s inspiring to work with early-stage companies, including those started by first-time founders, and to be a part of their network as they navigate their mission to positively impact future preparedness. I also get the unique opportunity to help expand their support network, by fostering connections between companies and mentorship within the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies and BARDA.
At JLABS, we believe mentorship is a critical part of driving success in innovation. It’s incredibly rewarding to play a role in facilitating the trust and communication that must go into successful mentoring relationships – and even more rewarding once the relationships come to life and early-stage innovators are able to leverage and benefit from the unparalleled access to outside expertise.
Apply now for the chance to be an IDea Incubator finalist and for the opportunity to be awarded Blue Knight residency. Applicants selected for Blue Knight residency may differ from IDea Incubator finalists.
Applications close July 8. For more information about competition rules, visit www.idsafoundation.org/ideaincubator.
*Subject to the execution of an Award agreement with Johnson & Johnson Innovation, or any affiliate thereof, and other agreements and/or documentation as is necessary and required for residency at a JLABS physical or virtual “location” to become part of the JLABS and Blue Knight networks