L’ Oréal Innovation Runway – A Wonderful Opportunity for all Startups

L’Oréal is a brand that needs no introduction. One of the largest brands in the world, it is easily one of the most popular beauty brands for skin and hair care. It has its presence in most countries and has easily found its place in the beauty market. It has come out with a challenge known as the L’Oréal Innovation Runway which is an innovative international technology startup contest. It is part of Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH). Its previous edition was well received by the startup fraternity for its second edition this year, it has decided to partner with early-stage startups and small enterprises in the Asia Pacific region and improve the beauty experience through sustainable solutions.

What are the pillars of this challenge?

The two driving forces are innovation and sustainability. Let us take for example the superfood quinoa. Its relation with beauty can be debated but the researchers at L’Oréal have found that the husk has exfoliating properties and have also invented an extraction process to include it in Kiehl’s Night refining micro-peel concentrate. This has also served the growers in Bolivia with a new project. This is a double whammy!
Another example is L’Oréal Professional’s first vegetal plant-based hair dye released in 2017 called Botanea. This dye is inspired from three plants found in India and contains up to 59% renewable ingredients. This calls for eco-friendly practices and methods. This is how the cosmetic giant is clubbing two important factors to create the best experience for customers.

L’Oréal has also created an innovative IoT device for sun protection which has a UV sense that is small enough to be on the thumbnail and measures the UV exposure of the individual. It has a large memory and is pairable with both Android and iOS. This provides information on UV trends and encourages safety procedures one should ideally practice in the sun. They have also created a new personalized and connected beauty experience powered by AI, Augmented reality and connected objects to simulate viewers to a never before beauty journey where they can get up to 220,000 facial images with different hair and makeup in sync with the user’s head movements. This shows how an intelligent mirror and a conversational bot can find the perfect look. These innovative ideas make it a must try for budding startups.

Why is the L’Oréal Innovation Runway Challenge an exciting deal for startups?

The second year of the Innovation Runway challenge promises to be bigger and better than the successful first one. This year it is being hosted by NUS Enterprise-an arm of NUS (the famous university), StartupSG (A leading hub) and Enterprise SG (Government agency) in collaboration with L’Oréal.

This year they have three key challenge areas:

  • Performance materials and products: This area is for developing natural materials with advanced properties that are effective on skin and hair. The innovation could be in the base formulation, skin tone management, for oily and imperfect skin and other processes that can provide new experiences using Green Chemistry.
  • Personalized beauty experiences: Here the ideas are for the betterment of experiences in beauty technology and beauty routines. There should be a pattern of understanding the products and diagnose it to suggest changes that could effectively augment its performance.
  • Sustainable Innovation: Sustainable solutions for technologies, devices to create a credible, effective social impact. These can be anything from packaging to a formulation that is biodegradable or anything that reduces wastes and by-products. Creating an efficient clean and green system or innovation is the prime idea here.

What do the Winners get?

  • The opportunity to work with L’Oréal and a long-term partnership: They can access the expertise in research and development, industry exposure and contacts and conduct pilot trials at the study hubs.
  • Financial award: A prize award of S$5000 will be awarded to both winners.
  • Startup Grant: They will receive a cash prize of $50,000 Startup SG grant Sponsored by Enterprise SG. There will be two winners.
  • Mentorship and Networking: They get access to the local network of startup mentors and investors. Also, they can connect with NUS enterprise and will get to participate in a startup camp organized by them.
  • Co-creation and industry exposure

Who can apply?

L’Oréal Innovation Runway is open for regions in Asia and beyond. It is primarily for startups but if you are not one, three months from the end of the competition you would be required to incorporate one.

What must the Submission Include?

  • An explanation of the problem and the ensuing solution
  • A rationale of how the solution criteria can be met
  • A material, MVP or prototype for testing within 18 months.


  • Shortlisted startups will be announced by August end and boot camps for semi-finals will start.
  • The semi-finals will be held in Singapore on September 17 and Finals on September 18.
  • Two winners will be selected at Slingshot@SWITCH.

Road shows Loreal Runaway

What is the deadline for submission?

12th August 2018

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