Marketing Report
L'Oréal launches beauty tech startup program to uncover marketing innovations for digital natives across the SAPMENA region

L'Oréal launches beauty tech startup program to uncover marketing innovations for digital natives across the SAPMENA region

To spur the next era of beauty, L'Oréal has launched the Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Program in the South Asia PacificMiddle East and North Africa (SAPMENA) region, including India. 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 AsiaIndia 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 $20 billion last year.

Vismay Sharma, President, L'Oréal SAPMENA Zone: "Asia and the Middle East are young, vibrant markets with a strong and dynamic startup ecosystem and opportunities for growth. 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."

Saloni Shah, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer, L'Oréal India, said, "India is home to successful start-ups that has resulted in an incredibly dynamic ecosystem. The vibrant energy, entrepreneurial spirit, and advanced digital landscape make it conducive for innovation across industries, especially in Beauty Tech. L'Oréal is committed to supporting this ecosystem, fostering collaboration, and seeking opportunities with innovative startups to shape the future of beauty."

The Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Program regional open innovation competition seeks to discover, support and nurture promising startups from across the South Asia PacificMiddle East and North Africa region, from countries including United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi ArabiaIndiaSingaporeMalaysiaIndonesiaThailandthe Philippines and Vietnam. These startups will be given the opportunity to develop their pilots in Beauty Tech innovation in one of five challenge themes: Consumer Experience, Content, Media, New Commerce and Tech for Good. 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 semi-finals for the GCC, India and Southeast Asia will culminate in an in-person SAPMENA Grand Finale. Up to ten startup finalists across SAPMENA will vie for the top prizes at the Grand Finale in Singapore on 23 October 2024. Judges will comprise senior executives from L'Oréal and the program partners.

Key dates:

  • Submission deadline: 13 July 2024
  • India online semi-final: 11 September 2024
  • Southeast Asia online semi-final: 30 September 2024
  • SAPMENA in-person Grand Finale in Singapore23 October 2024


Startups passionate about creating the future of the beauty industry with L'Oréal are encouraged to apply here by the submission deadline of 13 July 2024.