To spur the next era of beauty, L’Oréal has launched the Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Program in the South Asia Pacific, Middle East and North Africa (SAPMENA) region, including the Philippines. The biggest open innovation competition of this scale for the beauty sector, it offers promising startups the chance to develop their innovation in a commercial pilot and potential exposure to 35 markets of the SAPMENA region.

The competition emphasizes the co-creation and co-development of innovative beauty technology and marketing solutions. Startups will address one or more of the five challenge themes: Consumer Experience, Content, Media, New Commerce and Tech for Good. Through their participation, startups will have the opportunity to connect with commercial and digital leaders, including strategic partners and mentors who can offer insights to test new ideas and potential to scale.

First launched in China in 2020, the competition now extends across Asia and MENA, tapping into the dynamic startup ecosystem and immense consumer potential of these regions. From a handful of investors and companies a little over a decade ago, these regions today have grown into a dynamic hub with increasing deal flow within the global startup ecosystem.

Home to 40% of the world’s population, the SAPMENA region covers 35 markets including many of the world’s fastest-growing, most populous and young markets. Its consumers are young digital natives, having an average age of 28 years (compared to the global average of 33 years) and with more than 60% purchasing online every week. Innovative e-commerce and social commerce business models and technologies are needed to reach and engage these consumers, who are leading the beauty acceleration with diverse beauty ideals and a dynamic digital culture of on-demand, always-connected and hyper social. Across Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East, the combined startup ecosystem includes over 40,000 startups, with more than 180 unicorns (startups valued US$1 billion+) and a deal flow that reached US$20 billion last year.

“Asia and the Middle East are young, vibrant markets with a strong and dynamic startup ecosystem and opportunities for growth,” L’Oréal SAPMENA Zone President Vismay Sharma said. “Leveraging Beauty Tech, L’Oréal wants to uncover better and more novel ways of connecting with consumers and answering unmet needs through beauty innovations. We are on the lookout for unique solutions that leverage data and tech — we believe augmented tech, online platforms and digital services have great potential to elevate the consumer experience.”

Adding to this, Yannick Raynaud, L’Oréal Philippines country managing director, shared, “In the Philippines, we see a unique intersection of youthful energy, digital savviness, and entrepreneurial spirit. We are excited to tap into this massive potential through the Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Program. This initiative not only offers our local startups an international platform to shine, but also allows us to nurture innovative and transformative ideas. We are eager to discover how these homegrown talents can redefine beauty tech and shape the future of the industry.”

The Philippines is a hotbed for entrepreneurial activity, boasting a vibrant startup ecosystem. Its population is notably tech-savvy, with more than 70% being internet users, making it a hub for digital innovations, particularly in the beauty industry. This positions the Philippines as a promising arena for groundbreaking advancements in beauty technology.

The top three SAPMENA Grand Finale winners will win a L’Oréal-funded commercial pilot opportunity and a year-long mentorship program with senior executives from L’Oréal and the program partners including Accenture, Google and Meta.

Startups who prove successful pilots in SAPMENA could have the opportunity to work with L’Oréal globally. With L’Oréal SAPMENA as a launchpad, startups could tap into an extensive network of partners and market insights.

The three regional online semifinals for the GCC, India and Southeast Asia (happening on Sept. 30) will culminate in an in-person SAPMENA Grand Finale. Up to 10 startup finalists across SAPMENA will vie for the top prizes at the Grand Finale in Singapore on Oct. 23. Judges will comprise senior executives from L’Oréal and the program partners.

Startups passionate about creating the future of the beauty industry with L’Oréal are encouraged to apply now on the competition website by the submission deadline of July 13.