L’Oréal Middle East, AstroLabs launch TechQuest challenge, fueling beauty tech advancements in the region

Out of 535 homegrown startups identified, 14 were shortlisted to innovate next-gen beauty tech for L'Oréal Middle East
L’Oréal Middle East, AstroLabs launch TechQuest challenge, fueling beauty tech advancements in the region
Four startups have won the challenge and will potentially be advanced to compete at the L'Oréal Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Program Grand Finale in October. (Supplied)

L’Oréal Middle East and AstroLabs have launched a new initiative called L’Oréal TechQuest, which aims to support homegrown startups in the UAE and Saudi Arabia as they develop innovative and impactful beauty technologies for L’Oréal Middle East.

TechQuest is the regional semi-finals of L’Oréal’s larger “Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Program,” which fosters open innovation and co-creation of novel beauty solutions by nurturing promising startups from the South Asia Pacific, Middle East, and North Africa region.

Vital role of SMEs in the Middle East

Furthermore, this first-of-its-kind program in the region highlights the vital role small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play in driving innovation and economic growth across the Middle East, with over 94 percent of all companies in the UAE and 99.5 percent in Saudi Arabia falling into this category. In addition, through TechQuest, L’Oréal Middle East seeks to accelerate government efforts to enhance the competitiveness of this crucial sector.

L'Oréal Middle East
TechQuest is part of the L’Oréal Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Program. (Supplied)

Rigorous startup evaluation and selection

Also, from an initial pool of 535 startups, 14 were shortlisted to develop operational solutions in areas like warehouse optimization, data fragmentation, AI for social listening, and AI in regulatory affairs. After a rigorous evaluation, four startups emerged as TechQuest winners: Exponential Solutions (10xDS) for their work in AI for regulatory affairs, Ahad Security Transforming for their contributions in data fragmentation, Yango Robotics for their advancements in warehouse optimization, and Aim Technologies for their innovative AI for social listening.

Read more: Glowing beauty industry: Saudis, top buyers of cosmetic products

Opportunities for pilot projects, global expansion

These innovators will have the unique opportunity to pilot their solutions with L’Oréal’s decision-makers and technical experts, receiving valuable feedback, data, mentorship, and support to accelerate commercialization in the region. Additionally, the four TechQuest winners will now advance to the “L’Oréal Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Program” Grand Finale in Singapore in October 2024, where they will compete against other shortlisted startups from India and Southeast Asia, vying for the chance to develop pilot projects across five challenge themes: Consumer Experience, Content, Media, New Commerce, and Tech for Good. Successful pilots in the SAPMENA region could further lead to global opportunities to work with L’Oréal worldwide.

L'Oréal Middle East
Olfa Messaoudi, chief digital and marketing officer at L’Oréal Middle East. (Supplied)

L’Oréal’s purpose and innovation ecosystem

Olfa Messaoudi, chief digital and marketing officer at L’Oréal Middle East, said: “L’Oréal’s overarching purpose is to create beauty that moves the world, and embrace technology as a catalyst for transformation. The Group has a legacy of pushing the boundaries of beauty innovation and continues to do so with avenues and initiatives that hone entrepreneurial and pioneering talent. SMEs are the backbone of a country’s economy and are often at the forefront of innovation. With L’Oréal TechQuest, we want to further explore their agility, creativity and competitiveness to find beauty solutions that make a positive difference. Startups in UAE and KSA have an opportunity to shape the future of beauty technology in a supportive and dynamic environment.”

Merging startup agility and corporate depth

Roland Daher, chief executive officer at AstroLabs, said: “We’ve always been about merging startups’ agility with the infrastructure and depth of established corporates to unlock transformation in key industries on the rise. Moreover, the L’Oreal TechQuest fexemplifies this commitment, offering regional startups fast-track access and the opportunity to validate and accelerate entry into the wider L’Oréal ecosystem. Additionally, bridging this gap ensures a seamless flow of market innovations into real-world applications for industry giants like L’Oréal Middle East.”

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