With the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies in Australia running the Health and Technology Challenge (HaTCHathon™) event just around the corner (9th – 11th September), Managing Director of Janssen Australia and New Zealand, Bruce Goodwin, shares his thoughts on the importance of innovation in healthcare.

HaTCHathon (#hackathon #HaTCHathon16) offers a unique opportunity for local start-ups, health technology experts, entrepreneurs and students to participate in a weekend-long competition, aimed at developing innovative, tech-based solutions for the most pressing health issues facing Australians.

The fast-paced weekend will consist of a ‘hackathon’, followed by a pitching process to an expert judging panel, including senior representatives from J&J in Australia, Medibank and Lorica Health. Mark Bouris, Executive Chairman of Yellow Brick Road and host of The Mark Bouris Show, will be opening this exciting event with us.

How did J&J in Australia come up with the idea of a HaTCHathon event?

Bruce: The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies is committed to accelerating scientific innovation at all stages of development around the world, with a focus on finding the best science and technology – no matter where it is located – to solve the greatest unmet medical and healthcare needs of society.

We know a great idea can come from anywhere – and anyone – so in Australia, we have been focusing on not just looking for these great ideas within the confines of our company. We have been committed to investing in local research and development and are happy to partner with companies and individuals who are doing innovative and exciting work to improve healthcare for Australians.

The HaTCHathon event came about as an extension of this, as we wanted to tap into some of the nation’s best and most creative minds to help solve some of Australia’s greatest health challenges.

Why do you want to engage developers and tech experts to solve healthcare problems, when J&J in Australia has an extensive R&D team?

Bruce: Our R&D team is continuing to discover and develop some great products and coming up with important new ways of treating medical conditions – and this will not stop. Yet, we’re also pragmatic in that we know that sometimes a fresh approach or idea can really help to spur innovation in healthcare. We recognise that some of Australia’s best brains for solving healthcare problems may not be working for us yet, so we wanted to explore open innovation to see what might be possible in this area to help people live happier, healthier lives. If open innovation can make life better for people, we want to be a part of it.

Why should people be involved in the HaTCHathon event?

Bruce: The HaTCHathon event invites the country’s brightest minds to work with our mentors to spur breakthrough innovation that will benefit both Australians and our strained healthcare system. Right now we are in the perfect storm for breakthrough innovation in health in this country and participants have the opportunity to be involved in discovering solutions to some of our greatest health challenges.

While there is prize money on offer, the biggest opportunity for participants will be in gaining exposure to the J&J Family of Companies, a leader in healthcare and technology. This has the potential to help to move their ideas from concept to commercialisation. That kind of exposure is invaluable.

What happens if participants come up with a novel idea during HaTCHathon?

Bruce: All HaTCHathon participants will own 100 per cent of any original content that they produce. If a ground-breaking idea is discovered through this process, and we are not already undertaking a similar initiative, we will discuss commercial options with the team involved. Ultimately, if we can help a good idea become a reality and help improve health outcomes for Australians, then everyone is a winner.

How did you come up with the healthcare problems for participants to solve during HaTCHathon?

Bruce: We identified a number of problems that Australians and our health system is facing today. From that, we came up with a set of five problem statements that participants will be asked to use their skills, creativity and innovative thinking to solve.

The problems range from obesity and adherence to treatment, to reducing the burden on our strained hospital system and improving access to better quality healthcare for Australians in rural and regional areas. We also want participants to tackle the problem that all of us face in a digital age – i.e. how can we, as patients, be in control of our own health and personal health information.

If our HaTCHathon participants help us to get just one step closer to addressing some of these issues, then Australia will be in good shape for the future.

How does J&J in Australia’s commitment to investing in R&D align with the Australian Government’s innovation agenda?

Bruce: Technological change is drastically changing the way Australians live and work. The Government’s innovation agenda is built on embracing new ideas in innovation and science, and harnessing new sources of growth to deliver the next age of economic prosperity in Australia.

Similarly, J&J in Australia is committed to harnessing this innovation potential to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians. We do this by investing in local R&D, driving access to early stage capital for start-ups, attracting the best talent – particularly undergrad and post grad students in STEM2D (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design) – supporting incubator programs, and extending opportunities for women in STEM roles.

Event details
Date: 9th-11th September

  • 9th September: Event kick-off, briefing and team formation
  • 10th September: Hackathon event commences
  • 11th September: Pitching to judging panel

Venue: Billy Blue Design School: 46-52 Mountain Street, Ultimo, NSW.

Take part in the HaTCHathon