Nuritas, a biotechnology start-up, won $5,400, access to expert help, and a potential business deal from personal care products maker Johnson & Johnson at the In-Cosmetics personal care materials show this week in London.
Ten other start-up companies made three-minute pitches for the prize in front of an audience of about 70 people. The competition was reminiscent of the U.S. reality television show “Shark Tank,” in which entrepreneurs present their business plans to a panel of “shark” investors.
The winner, Nuritas, won for pitching its ability to discover peptides that have applications in personal care products, dietary supplements, and pharmaceuticals.
Others that made pitches for the cash and the chance to benefit from J&J’s research and commercial advice included the skin diagnostics app maker Cambridge Biolabs; Corum, a Taiwan-based producer of cosmetic ingredients for skin spot reduction; and the Oxford University spin-off Sibelius, which has developed a high-throughput screening method to discover cosmetic and nutritional active ingredients.
J&J has run similar competitions with the Biotechnology Industry Organization, explained company spokesperson Emma Kohring. But the London event was the first J&J organized at the cosmetic industry show, which attracts a large number of small innovative firms, she said. J&J screened 50 companies and then invited 11 to compete in London.
In announcing the winner, John Bell, external innovation R&D vice president for J&J, said his firm expects to “continue the dialogue” with six or seven of the companies that pitched the judges at the event.
Entrepreneurs running cosmetics-related start-ups aren’t the only industry folks who relish a challenge. At the In-Cosmetics show in New York City last September, chemists signed up for a formulations competition. And in November, the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council said it would start a contest later this year and award prizes of up to $25,000 to inventors of new cosmetics preservation technologies.