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New Delhi : Six women led startups have won COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge organised by MyGov in collaboration with UN Women. With an objective of encouraging and involving women led startups to come up with innovative solutions that can help in the fight against COVID19 or solve problems that impact a large number of women, MyGov in collaboration with UN Women, launched the COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge in April 2020.

This was a unique challenge hosted on the Innovate platform of MyGov that called for applications from women led startups as well as startups who have solutions that address issues facing a larger number of women.

The Challenge was implemented in two stages: Ideation stage and Proof of Concept (PoC) Stage. The challenge received an overwhelming response with a total of 1,265 entries from across the nation.

After thorough screening, 25 startups were shortlisted for presentations before the Jury which included Debjani Ghosh, President NASSCOM, Rohini Srivathsa, National Technology Officer (CTO) Microsoft India, Dr R Ramanan, MD Atal Innovation Mission, Nishtha Satyam, Dy Country representative, UN Women India, and Abhishek Singh, CEO MyGov, according to a PIB release.

All 25 selected startups presented their solutions before the Jury which evaluated the solutions proposed by the startups on the parameters that included innovation, usability, relevance and impact of their idea on the society and after thorough review 11 finalists were chosen for the next stage.  All the 11 selected startups were provided a prize money of Rs 75,000 each to further develop their ideas.

Mentorship sessions were organised to enable graduation of the ideas into Proof of Concepts that can be scaled up.These sessions had  topics that included Business Modelling, Financial Modelling, Legal Certifications, Digital Marketing, Product Design, Art of making Pitch and were conducted with the support of NASSCOM, Industry Experts, and the Atal Incubation Centre  at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology.

After giving time to the 11 Startups to develop the solutions, the final presentations were again made before the Jury on October 27,  2020. The quality of the solutions presented was excellent and the Jury had a tough time evaluating them. After intense discussions and deliberations, the Jury selectedtop 3 entries as winners, and in view of the high quality of solutions presented decided to recognise 3 additional entries as ‘Promising Solutions’. In addition to the earlier announced reward of Rs 5 lakh for the top 3 winners, UN Women was generous enough to agree to reward Rs 2 lakh each to the 3 startups chosen for their promising solutions.

Top 3 winners are as follows:

  1. Dr P Gayatri Hela is the founder of Bengaluru-based Resada Lifesciences Private Limited that designs and develops home and agricultural-based products using plant extracts instead of synthetic chemicals. As per Gayatri, germs and other bacteria/viruses become resistant to chemicals over time, whereas nature always has a way of fighting back against these organisms. For Shri Shakti Challenge, Gayatri submitted her innovative product which is a non-alcoholic hand sanitiser that is  relevant not only for COVID- 19 but also for other infections. The idea had come to her in 2017, when she was battling the SARS pandemic with her with her one-year old daughter.
  1. Romita Ghosh, a cancer survivor, is the founder of Shimla-based iHeal HealthTech Private Limited which is a healthcare start-up that has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID and has been providing PPE kits to hospitals. Romita has also built a Made in India UV sterilisation box for safe reuse of PPEs and masks that can help reduce costs for hospitals and other service providers.
  2. Dr Anjana Ramkumar and Dr Anushka Ashokan are the product manager and co-founder of Kerala based Thanmatra Innovations Private Limited and have come up with the innovative solution of an anti-microbial solution that could be sprayed into handkerchiefs or dupattas for making them safe to be used as Face Masks. This also made it easier to protect kids. Their innovation is simple and scalable and can help convert any piece of cloth to anti-viral mask within minutes by a simple process of spraying and drying with their unique formulation.