'Agents of Change' Atopic Dermatitis Challenge

How might we tackle the bullying that is all too often experienced by people living with atopic dermatitis due to their skin condition?

Let’s work together to increase understanding of atopic dermatitis (AD), help break social stigma, and put a stop to the bullying faced by those with AD.
Let’s work together to increase understanding of atopic dermatitis (AD), help break social stigma, and put a stop to the bullying faced by those with AD.

Submissions were welcomed from non-profit organizations, including patient and professional organizations, as well as advocacy groups and individuals. Individuals could participate in partnership with a non-profit.

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The Opportunity

Up to five grant recipients had the opportunity to receive:

  • Grant Funding: Up to $10,000 in grant funding to support the development and implementation of proposed solutions. Grant funding provided varied based on the scale of the proposal submitted.
  • Global Recognition: An opportunity to present and discuss their ideas with the AD community and experts in healthcare and innovation.
What's Happening Now
Participants were welcome to submit solutions to the Beyond the Bag Challenge through one of three submission channels. Learn more about each channel.

The Challenge

Bullying is a challenge faced by many people with atopic dermatitis (AD). It is estimated that as many as 1 in 10 people worldwide have AD, making it one of the most common long-term conditions [1],[2],[3]. However, for the AD community, this comes from a lack of understanding of their disease — which more often than not, is unfortunately the first thing other people see, and is something they live with every day.

While it may be easier to see the physical symptoms of AD and their overwhelming impact on daily life, what might be less easy to see is the stigma and feeling of doubt people with this disease often face.

Challenge Journey

1. Ideas

Sep 14, 2019

Nov 1, 2019

2. Review

Nov 4, 2019

Nov 8, 2019

3. Iteration

Nov 11, 2019

Dec 6, 2019

4. Final Review

Dec 9, 2019

Dec 20, 2019

5. Final Announcement

Jun 14, 2020

Jun 15, 2020

Current Phase
1. Ideas
The Ideas Phase is about coming up with real solutions.

In this Phase, we invite contributors with diverse backgrounds to share their ideas.

The Ideas Phase is more than just a call for proposals. At OpenIDEO, we believe that new and existing ideas become better through collaboration, transparent feedback, and iteration. Participants are encouraged to build off of others' concepts, collaboratively share insights, and combine ideas to reach innovative new places.

What's Happening

Browse the Challenge Brief and Additional Resources to learn more about AD and about bullying. Then share your ideas while the ideation phase is open.

Get Involved

Increase your understanding of AD and start brainstorming.

Key Dates

Submission opens on Saturday, September 14, 2019 and ends on Friday, November 1st, 2019 at 5 p.m. PT.

phase closed
2. Review
Proposals are carefully evaluated to determine the Shortlist.

After the ideation phase closes, we’ll take two weeks to review all submitted ideas. During this review period, submitted proposals on the platform will be locked, though we encourage you to leave and respond to comments, feedback or insights in the comments section.

Those chosen as part of the shortlist will be required to share more information on their proposal, including a timeline and estimated budget allocation to help provide a better sense of how your idea will be brought to life.

What's Happening

All eligible submitted proposals will be reviewed.

Get Involved

You're encouraged to continue to increase your understanding of AD by exploring the resources and to share your feedback on other submitted ideas on the platform.

Key Dates

Shortlisted proposals will be announced on Tuesday, November 12.

Phase closed
3. Iteration
Let's improve our proposals based on feedback and collaboration!

During the Iteration Phase, up to 15 shortlisted submissions will be invited to further build their proposals and fully flesh out their ideas around AD.

All shortlisted participants will be guided through unpacking their innovations, testing aspects of their idea, and finding ways to gain feedback from those who might benefit from their solutions.

What's Happening

Shortlisted teams will improve their ideas through peer interactions, expert feedback, and community support. All proposals will be locked to edit-only, as we will ask that you focus your time on refining your concept.

Key Dates

Proposal editing will be open from Tuesday, November 12 to December 6 at 5pm PT.

4. Final Review
During our Final Review Phase, all shortlisted ideas will be evaluated.

At the close of the Challenge, shortlisted ideas will be evaluated against the eligibility criteria by a selection panel that includes Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron, healthcare innovators and experts in AD, as well as the OpenIDEO Challenge team.

What's Happening

All ideas will be reviewed by a full selection panel.

Get Involved

Stay tuned for the announcement of the selected grant recipients.

Key Dates

The selection panel will evaluate ideas from December 9, 2019 through December 20, 2019. This will be followed by a period of due diligence and grant review process before signing an agreement.

5. Final Announcement
Selected Grant Recipients Announced!

We’re excited to announce the selected grant recipients.


Selected proposals are announced.


Grant recipients are announced in June 2020

Selected proposals
The Challenge

How might we tackle the bullying that is all too often experienced by people living with atopic dermatitis due to their skin condition?

Read The Full Brief

Why Focus on Bullying & Stigma

People living with AD both see and feel its symptoms on their skin. Those with moderate-to-severe AD often experience redness, swelling, and lesions often causing constant itching and painful cracked, crusty and oozing skin. All too often, these symptoms are more than skin deep too, having a tremendous impact on the mental and emotional well-being of people with AD, causing feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness [2],[4].

This year, the ‘Agents of Change’ AD Challenge is focusing on helping to address this bullying experienced by people because of their AD. It calls upon all of you - the AD community, general public and healthcare innovators from around the world to submit your ideas (via proposals) that look to help people with AD live their regular lives without feeling self-conscious or having to deal with the burden of bullying that often comes from the lack of understanding of this disease.

We’re eager to hear your ideas that you believe will help people with AD live healthy and fulfilled lives, free of bullying and stigma.

Let’s change the way people think and feel about their AD by helping others—including the misinformed—understand more about this disease and what it means for those living with it, every day.

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About Atopic Dermatitis

Here are more facts about AD and its symptoms:

  • AD, the most common form of eczema, is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease driven in part by excessive type 2 inflammation, an overactive response of the immune system [5],[6].
  • Moderate-to-severe AD is characterized by unpredictable flare-ups and rashes that can cover much of the body, and include intense, persistent itching, skin lesions and skin dryness, cracking, redness, crusting and oozing [7].
  • Inadequately controlled AD can have a physical, emotional and psychosocial impact, causing sleep disturbance, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and feelings of isolation [2],[4].
  • Symptoms can impact all aspects of day-to-day life, including getting a good night’s sleep, enjoying the freedom to exercise and try new hobbies, to play with your kids, meet up with friends, or feeling free to wear whatever you want [4].
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Opportunity Areas

Opportunity Areas are specific calls to action that guide our community. They serve as provocations that are intentionally aligned with our Challenge topic and partner priorities as well guiding solution innovation.

Regardless of the Opportunity Area, the hope is that all ideas will approach the Challenge question through the lens of supporting those who live with AD.

  • Increase understanding of atopic dermatitis. As many as 1 in 10 people worldwide have AD, making it one of the most common long-term conditions. [1],[2],[3]. AD commonly affects areas such as your knees, elbows, neck, hands and cheeks [10]. Those living with the disease may also be unable to sleep or perform everyday activities [4]. How might we help people learn about and understand AD’s causes and symptoms?
  • Build confidence within the AD community. AD symptoms can appear at any time [1],[2]. This uncertainty can make life difficult, though those living with AD may take precautions to minimize triggers and to manage their flare-ups. How might we empower people to feel more confident and in-control while managing their condition?
  • Reduce social stigma and feelings of loneliness due to bullying. Research suggests that 30% of all adult AD patients are diagnosed in childhood [8]. Bullying often begins in formative years, which can be hurtful starting at a young age [9]. Such stigma may turn into discrimination as children age. How might we reduce bullying of and improve support to people with atopic dermatitis? 
  • Other. Want to suggest ideas outside of our framework? Tell us how other ideas might achieve the impact we’re discussing, and how your approach works!

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Participation Criteria

We firmly believe that a good idea can come from anyone. However, we’re unable to provide grant funding to individuals and believe that the power of community can make ideas even stronger.

Submissions are welcome from non-profit organizations, including patient and professional organizations, as well as advocacy groups.

We ask that individuals or group of individuals submit their proposal in partnership with a non-profit organization of any kind, so if you have an idea, make sure to reach out to a local group so that you can co-create together from the beginning.

Individuals with an idea that they feel passionate about, but may not know a non-profit organization to partner with, are encouraged to:

  • Combine teams: Reach out to others in the OpenIDEO community who may be joining the Challenge and have already identified an organization to partner with.
  • Share your ideas anyway: While grant support will only be provided to those who have partnered with a non-profit organization, we want to hear your ideas anyway. The community management team may be able to help provide more information on non-profit organizations in your region that you may be able to partner with.

A shortlist of ideas will be identified and will have the opportunity to receive additional feedback and further refine their proposals into more fully-fledged and complete ideas, demonstrating their potential impact for addressing the emotional and social burden due to bullying.

For those chosen as part of the shortlist, more information including a timeline and estimated budget allocation will be requested to help provide a better sense of how your idea will be brought to life. Chosen grant recipients will also undergo a required due diligence review and will need to sign an agreement with the sponsors of this challenge before grants can be awarded.

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Up to five grant recipients may have the opportunity to receive:

  • Grant Funding: Up to $10,000 in grant funding to support the development and implementation of proposed solutions. Grant funding provided will vary based on the scale of the proposal submitted.
  • Global Recognition: An opportunity to present and discuss their ideas with the AD community and experts in healthcare and innovation.

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Evaluation Criteria

The ‘Agents of Change’ AD Challenge is a new, global grants-initiative seeking proposals for grassroot solutions to help solve some of the greatest challenges impacting those living with AD.

The initiative will connect people who want to make a difference in the lives of those with AD not only with one another, but also with healthcare innovators, with the hope of inspiring new ideas and delivering transformative solutions that will make a meaningful difference in the day-to-day lives of people with AD. 

By harnessing the power of collaborative innovation, and opening the challenge to people across the globe, our aim is to help support ideas worth believing in. 

We’re looking for ideas that are…

Patient-centered / human-centered
We want ideas that are centered around real, human experiences that demonstrate an understanding of the stigma and bullying experienced by people living with AD. 

Anchored in emotional and psychosocial well-being

We want to address the fact that the visible symptoms of AD can also have a significant impact on the emotional and psychosocial well-being of those living with AD. More so, we’re seeking ideas that can help educate people about what it means to live with AD, helping to address misconceptions, misinformation and bullying that is often associated with this disease.

Locally focused
We encourage ideas to consider insights and challenges experienced in their own communities. We believe that a deep understanding of challenges faced in your own community will help inform stronger solutions. From there, we’re interested to learn how ideas may be able to scale to larger patient networks.

It’s critical that you consider how your idea may be measurable to demonstrate impact on the AD community. Examples of measurable impacts may include:

  • Relatability: Demonstrates relevance or relatability for people living with AD and/or the AD community in your local city, town or community, with the potential to scale globally.
  • Understanding: Demonstrates understanding of the unmet need or burden experienced by people living with AD.
  • Impact: Demonstrates impact or ability to make a difference for the AD community, as it relates to bullying, low self-esteem, or social stigma experienced by those living with AD.


The intention of this Challenge is to make a positive impact for the AD community around the world. As such, we ask that you consider the implementation feasibility of your idea. For example:

  • Is the idea realistic enough to bring to life? 
  • Is this something that you’d imagine being used by someone you know living with AD? 
  • Is the implementation timeframe reasonable?

More information will be available on the Challenge website on the evaluation process and selection criteria, including timings as you begin to think of your potential ideas.

Visit the Challenges FAQ page for answers to common open innovation Challenge questions. If you have questions around the submission process, or the Challenge in general, you can contact agentsofchangead@IDEO.com for more information.

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Additional Resources

This list of Additional Resources has been co-created alongside experts to support you in crafting your idea.

Throughout the Challenge, participants will also be supported with:

  • Access to articles and published research information to support the ideation process.
  • Toolkits outlining design processes to support the innovation journey.
  • New connections and the opportunity to meet co-creators while growing your network via the OpenIDEO platform and AD community.
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About Our Partners

Sanofi is dedicated to supporting people through their health challenges. We are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health. We prevent illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. We stand by the few who suffer from rare diseases and the millions with long-term chronic conditions. With more than 100,000 people in 100 countries, Sanofi is transforming scientific innovation into healthcare solutions around the globe.

Regeneron is a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases. Founded and led for 30 years by physician-scientists, our unique ability to repeatedly and consistently translate science into medicine has led to seven FDA-approved treatments and numerous product candidates in development, all of which were homegrown in our laboratories. Our medicines and pipeline are designed to help patients with eye disease, allergic and inflammatory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, infectious diseases, pain and rare diseases.

Through this alliance, Regeneron and Sanofi are leveraging both companies’ unique capabilities to advance patient care and focus research efforts on understanding the pathophysiology of inflammatory diseases, like asthma, atopic dermatitis (pediatric population), chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis, eosinophilic esophagitis and other atopic and allergic diseases.

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1. T. Bieber. Atopic Dermatitis. Ann Dermatol. 2010;22(2):125–137. 2. S. Weidinger et al., Atopic dermatitis. Lancet. 2016;387:1109–1122. 3. D. Leung et al., New insights into atopic dermatitis. J Clin Invest. 2004;113(5):651–657. 4. T. Zuberbier, et al., Patient perspectives on the management of atopic dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006;118(1):226-232. 5. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Handout on Health: Atopic Dermatitis (A type of eczema) 2013. 6. NA. Gandhi et al., Targeting key proximal drivers of type 2 inflammation in disease. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2016;15(1):35-50. 7. Mount Sinai. Patient Care Atopic Dermatitis. Available at: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/atopic-dermatitis. Accessed August 2019. 8. T. Garmhausen et al., Characterization of different courses of atopic dermatitis in adolescent and adult patients. Allergy. 2013;68(4):498-506. 9. M. Vlachou et al., Bully/Victim Problems Among Preschool Children: a Review of Current Research Evidence. Educ Psychol Rev. 2011;23(3):329–358. 10. Atopic Eczema. Available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/skin-hair-and-nails/atopic-eczema. Accessed August 2019.

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Final Announcement
Final Announcement
Challenge Team:

Natalia Vasquez

Program Lead

Stephanie Sizemore

Senior Designer

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