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 up to Rs 3.5 lakhs.

Innovation Challenge was launched in October this year in the wake of the 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, polycystic 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.

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.

Padcare Labs 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. Padcare Labs’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 gynaecologists, counsellors etc.

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.

  1. Early diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS Virago (Startup), Janani B. (Individual/ Team)
  2. Early diagnosis of pregnancy: Bloom Glitz Light International (Startup), Sirona (Startup)
  3. Sanitary waste management: Elemantra Enterprises (Startup), Metwiz (Startup), GreenIT (Individual / Team)
  4. Sex Education: Uvi Health (Startup), ThatMate (Startup), Kara for her (Startup)
  5. 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.