This March, to honor International Women’s Day, we organized a series of events and activities to discuss how technology can improve women’s health outcomes. On Marth 8th, we hosted a panel discussion “Strong Tech for Powerful Women“, where we covered some of the most important topics concerning women’s health and technology. Our panelists were distinguished international business, technology, and science leaders – Ann Holder, the CEO and Founder of Marani Health, Grace Hahn, an investor at Brighton Park Capital, Tina Purnat, Team Lead for Infodemic Management at WHO, and Sarah Hess, a Technical Officer at WHO.
We then invited young female students from all countries and locations where HTEC has development centers to join us for the HTEC Idea Marathon. During this two-day event, girls of different education profiles – from engineering and mathematics to biochemistry and economics – worked with their HTEC mentors, discussing health issues women are facing today and thinking of potential technology-based solutions to alleviate them. Finally, they pitched their ideas to the international jury made of our “Strong Tech for Powerful Women“ panelists. We have all been truly fortunate to have such renowned panelists and jury members and we believe that their feedback will be of immense value to everyone who attended the event!
The presentations exceeded both their mentors’ and the jury’s expectations. What was particularly fascinating – and what our mentors shrewdly pointed out following the presentations, was their multidisciplinary approach. They focused not only on the technological aspect, but also thought about the market, competitors, policymakers, and monetizing issues.
Last Friday, we had the pleasure of welcoming the three winning teams in our Belgrade office. The girls had a chance to meet their mentors in person and find out more about HTEC Group from Katarina Urošević, our Chief of Staff & Director of Corporate Communications. In addition, they participated in a series of workshops organized by Sofija Drecun, our Head of Business Development Operations. They learned about Lean canvas, future-proofing their business and career plans, and deep-dived into the modern workplace through the lens of an innovation partner.
We asked the girls about their impressions regarding our marathon. Here’s what Zunayyara Khalid, the member of the third-placed team, singled out as the most valuable experience:
“The most valuable thing is the feeling of contributing to the community. Also, the professional experience I gathered from such wonderful minds, and creating lifetime friendships.”
Ana Pantelić, whose team was awarded 2nd prize, compared the experience to a roller coaster ride:
“The experience of the event was a roller coaster. From the thrill, excitement, stress…until the moment we were so happy that it was over, but we actually wanted another ride. So, we truly want this experience for every girl, in any field, medical, technical or any other.“
We also asked Milica Rističević from the winning team what the experience of winning the Idea Marathon meant for her future career plans and ambitions. She pointed out how proud she was of the entire team, adding that they never thought “economics, engineering, and pharmaceutical science were so connected,“ and that the experience “showed them the power of multidisciplinary approach”.
“We got the confidence to pursue some bigger things in life. This experience opened a new perspective, making us aware of all the opportunities available to us, no matter what backgrounds we are coming from. Let’s put female health in women’s hands”.
To round the visit off, the girls and their mentors also visited the National Museum and had a chance to get to know each other outside the work-related context, too.
Now, let’s get back to the solutions the girls presented during the marathon. We hope you will enjoy them as much as we did.
- Team members: Marija Raičević, Milica Rističević, Imane Moustakim, Jasmina Kadić;
- Mentors: Danica Gostović, Alma Šećerbegovic
The winners of our HTEC Idea Marathon came up with a solution that addresses one of the biggest issues couples are facing today – infertility. Today, 50 million women struggle with infertility and are undergoing various treatments. For them to be successful, timing is crucial – recognizing when hormones are just at the right level. This is where personalized solutions enter the picture, and our amazing contestants recognized that potential. Presenting: Harmony.
Harmony is envisioned as a home-use fertility monitoring tool for personalized analysis, offering additional privacy and control over one’s reproductive health. It captures certain hormonal biomarkers from a few blood drops sampled by the hardware part and sends the data to a cloud-based app for analysis. This enables tracking hormone levels, their change over time, and the relations between those values. If there is a concern (e.g., levels that are significantly outside the intended scope), the user can see the doctor before the usual checkup.
Apart from a brilliantly thought-out technology aspect and an outstanding presentation, what makes this solution stand out is its marketing potential. It goes far beyond infertility and can be used for various medical issues caused by hormonal disbalance, such as mental health issues, problems related to heart conditions, diabetes, etc. Congratulations to the entire team behind this exceptional solution!
Team VR Scoliosis Game:
- Team members: Bogdana Đorđević, Ana Pantelić, Ana Gakidev, Tergel Tsumbuukhuu, Shaista Naz, Aleksandra Ljuboje;
- Mentors: Irena Pavlović, Miljana Petrović
Let’s dive into the creative runner-up solution for a problem millions are facing today – scoliosis. This condition predominantly affects younger populations – most of all, girls aged 10 to 14. Expensive and time-consuming treatments often lead to high dropout rates, and the expenses incurred if the problem is not addressed timely can be 30 times higher.
To get out of this vicious circle, our girls proposed an innovative solution – a VR-based online scoliosis game. It will integrate actual scoliosis exercises into an authentic VR gaming experience. Brilliant, right? The engaging and entertaining aspect will motivate the youngsters to be persistent with the exercises and in turn, lead to better prevention of severe conditions and reduce the costs of untimely treatment. Moreover, the solution can be adapted to address other issues as well by developing different stories and gameplays. Congrats on the well-deserved 2nd place award!
Team Mellow Voice:
- Team members: Jelena Božičković, Jelena Petrović, Jovana Mladenović, Zunayyara Khalid, Ana Jurasović, Anisia Jovanovski, Ana Paula Nascimento Gonçalves Oliveira;
- Mentors: Andrea Ćirić, Milena Vranešević, Sofija Drecun
The 3rd place was awarded to the team behind the innovative solution envisioned to address mental health issues. Sadly, one in eight women develops some form of clinical depression at one point in life, and many are reluctant to seek professional help. The team discerned the need to act on this and presented their concept of a tech solution called the Mellow Voice. The app uses the power of AI voice recognition to detect potential mental health issues and offers three different channels of interaction to alleviate them – talking to a “buddy” of your choice, an interactive quiz, and a digital diary. Vocalizing one’s emotions is of tremendous importance, and this app is envisioned to provide a safe space to do that without the stress often associated with a doctor’s appointment. The actual medical advice would, of course, still be there, as the app would be devised in cooperation with relevant medical professionals. Thank you, team Mellow Voice, for tackling such a significant issue in such a meticulous and sympathetic manner!
Team Breastie, Women’s bestie:
- Team members: Aleksandra Milović, Tijana Đuričić, Zorana Jovanović, Nadia Helali, Navira Shandra Prastiwi, Danijela Smiljanić, Majra Grabić;
- Mentors: Jana Jurica, Irena Petković, Nevena Radosavljević, Jelena Đurđevac
Late detection of breast cancer and potentially serious outcomes it brings is something we are, unfortunately, all well aware of. The girls came up with a creative tech solution to alleviate the risk. Their hand-held ultrasound device is used for self-examination and is connected to software collecting and analyzing data. Using machine learning, the device identifies abnormalities, recognizes potentially serious lumps, saves a warning image, and directs the user to a clinic for further testing. In addition to the brilliant idea, the girls did an amazing job presenting it, which brought them a special award for the best presentation. Kudos to the girls and their mentors!
- Team members: Miljana Petković, Nina Tasić, Ivana Spasenić, Aleksandra Kojčinović;
- Mentor: Gabriela Mate
GynTest addresses the issue of various gynecological concerns women don’t have the time or resources to deal with. Women often lack the right information, some are too young and too shy to visit a gynecologist, and there is also the issue of decreased availability of medical care due to covid. GynTest is an interactive mobile app for interpreting various types of gynecology tests or finding out which test a woman needs based on a questionnaire she fills in. Upon interpreting results/suggesting a test to be taken, the app also provides a list of clinics where the user can visit a gynecologist. Wonderful job, girls!
Team Cycle me:
- Team members: Natasa Tijanić Borisavljević, Dijana Čaušević;
- Mentors: Danijela Nestorović, Marija Aćimović
Cycle me is a technology-based solution addressing infertility, which globally affects 1 in 4 couples. It combines a software and a hardware component. The software is an app that records various parameters – age, BMI, menstrual cycle start/end dates, mood, and temperature data – to calculate ovulation using an algorithm. It is integrated with the hardware part used to automatically track some parameters such as basal temperature and hormone levels via test strips. The intended outcome is a more precise way of calculating ovulation and timely identification of potential issues, which should lead to more successful conception. Congratulations to the entire team, you really did an amazing job!
- Team members: Magdalina Milić, Minja Vuković, Magdalena Radojević, Kristina Slović, Jana Baltić, Madelain Veintimilla, Lejla Bašić;
- Mentors: Milena Bogavac, Aleksandra Mitrović
Breast cancer inspired another team’s solution. It is a wearable and adjustable device consisting of five sensors that measure lump tissue activity by detecting the force exerted by changing (growing) tissue. The data captured is sent to the software component for analysis. The solution is primarily intended for women who are concerned about a detected abnormality that the doctors did not yet qualify as immediately threatening and that should be monitored over a certain period. The waiting and the apprehension can be immensely stressful, and this solution can be invaluable to alleviate not only the stress women are facing, but also the pressure put on the health system. Bravo, team CropDX!
Team Pink the Right Choice:
- Team members: Aleksandra Pavlović, Sanja Milicević, Erdenekhuu Nasanjargal;
- Mentor: Sara Oredić
This solution helps women choose adequate cosmetics products to prevent health issues, such as skin allergies or acne, which could potentially lead to more serious conditions if not addressed in time. The team presented a concept of an application based on a questionnaire, where the user enters data such as skin type, allergies, previously used products, etc. The app then scans a product to see if it matches your needs. It would also have an integrated machine translation engine to translate the ingredients listed in a language the user does not understand. Congratulations on the great idea and an excellent presentation!
Although our marathon is done, these girls are only just beginning. With such tremendous talent and potential, we are confident that we’ll be seeing more of them very soon.
We all learned a lot from this experience, which we hope everybody found truly enjoyable and rewarding – from the jury to the mentors and our young contestants. What stands out, though, is the warming feeling that the world is in really good hands and that with such bright minds blooming all around us, we have an equally bright future ahead!