WGH/Novartis Foundation Start-up Innovation Challenge 2020

As the world learns to live with the coronavirus, the #BuildBackBetter Digital Innovation and AI Challenge will offer a platform for women-led start-ups to advance both gender equity in health security and systems, with a special focus on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Specifically, the #BuildBackBetter Digital Innovation and AI Challenge will identify innovative digital and AI solutions addressing health security during COVID-19 and future health emergencies with the potential to:

(a) increase the number of women as creators of digital health and AI solutions
(b) increase the number of women as leaders of digital health and AI companies and initiatives
(c) ensure that that digital health solutions enable health systems to meet the health needs of all genders

The winners of the challenge will be awarded $10,000 and the runners-up will receive $5,000 to develop their innovation further. Both the winner and the runner up will receive guidance from an innovation mentor. These mentors will be assigned by Women in Global Health.


  1. Your start-up must be (co-)founded by a woman ✓
  2. Your start-up must be based in a low-middle income country, as defined by the World Bank ✓
  3. Your start-up must have a health emergency-focus and your idea must support greater gender parity in global health security during COVID-19 and for future pandemic preparedness ✓
  4. Your idea must be a digital or AI innovation ✓
  5. A member of your team must be available to pitch during the finals in November 2020 ✓

In addition:

  • You provide two professional references. References will only be contacted if you reach the final.
  • Preference will be given to WGH Chapter members and partners, but anyone can apply.


  1. Create a short 90 second video pitch that answers the following questions:
    • How will your solution advance gender parity in global health security for COVID-19 and the future of pandemic preparedness?
    • Why is your solution an innovation in digital health and AI?
    • Why does your solution deserve to win this challenge?
  2. Upload your video pitch onto YouTube. Make sure your video pitch is private. Copy your URL as you will need it to submit your application.
  3. Submit your application by filling out the google form, pasting your URL and uploading a 1-page proposal that details:
    • Your idea for an innovation
    • The perceived impact of your innovation
    • Potential scalability of the innovation

The applications will be reviewed by an external review panel of experts in health and technology. Six finalists will be chosen and asked to pitch their ideas during the two day virtual event in November. They will be given seven minutes to present a maximum of five slides and the judges will be given a maximum of 10 minutes to ask questions. The winners will be announced on the second day of the event and will give a three minute live interview.

Application Deadline: October 23rd 2020

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the WGH/Novartis Foundation #BuildBackBetter Start-up Innovation Challenge 2020


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