New Delhi: Villgro and Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) today announced Padcare Labs and Stand we Speak as the winners of the Innovation Challenge, an initiative to find start-ups and innovators using technological solutions to solve sexual and reproductive health challenges. Padcare Labs), a startup that has developed a solution for sanitary napkin disposal was announced as the winner in the startup category. Further, SexEd-tech initiative Stand We Speak was chosen as the winner in the Individual / Team category. The winners will receive a cash award of upto INR 3.5 lakhs.
Innovation Challenge was launched in October this year in the wake of rising gap in awareness during COVID-19 pandemic to identify and support start-ups and innovators which are developing technology solutions to sexual and reproductive health challenges such as early diagnosis of pregnancy, poly cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), ovulation monitoring, eco-friendly disposal of sanitary napkins and multi-lingual sex education. Startups and Innovators from across India had submitted applications for the challenge.
Speaking on the Innovation Challenge, Srinivas Ramanujam, CEO, Villgro said “The Innovation Challenge has been an extremely satisfying and fruitful initiative for Villgro. During this initiative, we were introduced to several cutting edge tech solutions that address sexual health issues. After a lot of deliberations and consultations, we chose Padcare Labs and Stand we Speak as the winners because both these ventures address two important issues in sexual healthcare that have remained neglected in India for years- sanitary waste disposal management and lack of sex education. I am confident that these two ventures will contribute significantly to improving the sexual healthcare system in India”.
On the conclusion of the Innovation Challenge, Dr Kalpana Apte, Secretary General, FPA India said “The Innovation Challenge has opened up a new avenue of collaboration between the SRH fraternity and the world of innovators and start-ups. We hope to build upon this collaboration in the process of addressing the sexual and healthcare issues, particularly experienced by young people, not only in India, but across the globe, in the subsequent months. . The winner in the startup category- Padcare Labs has a remarkable solution that if deployed across the country can effectively tackle the problem of sanitary waste management. The other winner in the individual / team category- Stand we Speak has achieved remarkable progress in improving access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual health experts in India. Further, both these ventures also have a viable and sustainable business model for implementing their solutions”
Padcare Labs is a Maharashtra based startup founded by Ajinkya Dhariya that has developed the world’s first solution for smokeless sanitary napkin disposal and recycling. Sanitary waste disposal is a major environmental problem in India. 12 billion used sanitary napkins are generated in India each year from which 98% goes to water bodies and landfills. It takes 800 years to decompose a single sanitary napkin. PadcareLabs’s solution includes an innovation called Saneco. Saneco is a centralized processing unit that processes super absorbent polymer and produces segregated and sterilized cellulose plastic as output. This plastic can also be used for different applications like plastic material etc.
StandWeSpeak is a Chattisgarh based SexEd-tech initiative founded by Priyal Agrawal. It equips people with the life-skills required to take care of their sexual health & well-being, and empowers them to make informed decisions about their bodies, relationships, and mental health throughout their lives. It seeks to remove the taboo around sex education. It provides access to medically accurate information on sexual health, modern contraception and menstrual hygiene products as well as access to sexual health experts such as gynecologists, counselors etc.
The runner up in the startup category was Maharashtra based startup, Fast sense diagnostics, which has developed an on the spot detection tool- POC-Scan to measure the hormonal levels in any setting urban/ rural (home, doctors clinic, PHCs etc.) for the diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), one of the most common endocrine disorders caused by hormonal imbalance. In the individual / team category, the runner up was Be Health Positive that is working towards diagnosing infertility in reproductive aged couples in India by spreading awareness among couples of how infertility can be prevented and encouraging them to take the AMH test which can be used to diagnose PCOS and indicate infertility.
From the applications received, the following 15 applicants were shortlisted for a highly curated immersion program with industry experts to create a pilot prototype solution.
- Early diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS Virago (Startup), Janani B. (Individual/ Team)
- Early diagnosis of pregnancy: Bloom Glitz Light International (Startup), Sirona (Startup)
- Sanitary waste management: Elemantra Enterprises (Startup), Metwiz (Startup), GreenIT (Individual / Team)
- Sex Education: Uvi Health (Startup), ThatMate (Startup), Kara for her (Startup)
- Ovulation monitoring: Yaakhai Healthcare (Startup)
The above shortlisted startups and innovators participated in a month-long immersion program that consisted of a series of webinars, 1-1 mentoring support by experts from FPAI and Villgro. Further, the applicants were also provided with rapid prototyping support by connecting participants to relevant ecosystem partners. Based on the mentoring received under the immersion program, the 15 shortlisted applicants gave virtual pitches on how they will convert their pilot prototype solution into a viable business model to a panel of Villgro and FPAI experts.