Meet the Shri Shakti Challenge Winners!

UN Women’s European Union-funded WeEmpowerAsia programme and the National Informatics Centre of India's MyGov initiative organized the COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge in India. Outstanding female entrepreneurs, scientists, innovators and change-makers were named winners and their accomplishments recognized. Now is the time to stand together for women worldwide, so please join us celebrating the winners of the Shri Shakti Challenge!

Top 3 winners of the Shri Shakti Challenge



Dr. P. Gayatri Hela
(Winner of the Shri Shakti Challenge)

Company: Reseda Lifesciences Private Limited
Solution: Natural, biodegradable, non-alcohol sanitizer and disinfectant for hands and surfaces

Dr. Hela is the Managing Director of Reseda Lifesciences, company that creates products for the home and for agriculture using plant extracts instead of synthetic chemicals. She first got the idea for a non-alcohol hand sanitizer in 2003, when she found herself right in the middle of the SARS pandemic with her one-year-old daughter.

She says that germs, bacteria and viruses can become resistant to chemicals over time, but nature always has a way of fighting back. Dr. Hela plans to use the prize money to improve her lab infrastructure in order to strengthen research and development.

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Romita Ghosh
(Winner of the Shri Shakti Challenge)

Company: MedSamaan (iHeal HealthTech Private Limited)
Solution: UV sterilization box for personal protective equipment and masks

Ghosh is the CEO of iHeal HealthTech, a health-care start-up. Her personal experience with the Indian health-care system inspired her to become an innovator. Ghosh was diagnosed with blood cancer as a child. She was lucky to recover because her parents could afford the treatment, and she decided to help other people access health care. From the start of the COVID-19 crisis, her company opposed the hoarding of essential items, and she supplied personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals that were running short. Her “Made in India” UV-C Sterilizer for Safe Re-use of PPEs will be cost-beneficial for many sectors, especially hospitals, which would be able to purchase less PPEs. With the prize money, Ghosh plans to generate the first institutional sales of her product by making it more user-friendly, faster, safer and scalable.

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Dr. Anjana Ramkumar and Dr. Anusha Ashokan 
(Winners of the Shri Shakti Challenge)

Company: Thanmatra Life (Thanmatra Innovations Private Limited)
Solution: Liquid mask – a spray-on solution that turns any regular cloth into an antiviral mask 

Dr. Ramkumar is the product development manager and Dr. Ashokan is the co-founder and director of Thanmatra Innovations. They were wary of being infected with the coronavirus because, as health-care professionals, they worked with numerous patients every day. The Government made wearing masks mandatory but most of the masks being sold were disposables and not everyone could afford them. So Ramkumar and Ashokan created an antimicrobial solution that could be sprayed on handkerchiefs or dupattas (long scarfs), which also makes it easier to protect kids. Their innovation is scalable to remote areas of the country as any piece of cloth can be turned into an antiviral mask within minutes by simply spraying the solution and letting it dry. It is a simple product anyone can afford. Dr. Ashokan and Dr. Ramkumar plan to scale up their invention, increasing marketing and antimicrobial testing.

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3 Winners of ‘Promising Solutions'



Vasanthi Palanivel
(Winner of Promising Solutions)

Company: Seragen Biotherapeutics Private Limited
Solution: Plasma solution to treat respiratory illness

Palanivel is the CEO and co-founder of Seragen Biotherapeutics, a company that helps infertile women conceive children naturally. She was working on a new infertility treatment when the pandemic hit and disrupted her clinic’s daily operation. As a scientist and researcher, she studied the symptoms and impacts of the virus extensively and saw that the lungs are among the worst-infected organs. This led her to develop a plasma solution to treat respiratory distress due to COVID-19. With the prize money, Palanivel will further her research on home-based pulmonary regeneration and reversal of fibrosis.

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Shivi Kapil
(Winner of Promising Solutions)

Company: Empathy Design Labs
Solution: KRIYA, a wearable monitoring device for pregnant women

Kapil is the CEO of Empathy Design Labs, which focuses on health care. As someone who has been designing health-care products for 8½ years, Kapil has been exposed to both the public and private health-care systems in India. When COVID-19 hit, Kapil started getting a lot of emails from pregnant women who were worried about not being able to go to the hospital for antenatal check-ups because of the risk of infection. Her solution, KRIYA, will help pregnant women avoid risks both during and after the pandemic. Kapil plans to carry out a paid pilot of her invention as a first step to commercializing it on a larger scale.

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Jaya Parashar and Ankita Parashar
(Winners of Promising Solutions)

Company: STREAM Minds
Solution: Dobot, a robot for health-care settings

Jaya Parashar and Ankita Parashar are mother and daughter and the co-founding directors of STREAM Minds, which promotes science and technology in children’s education and offers programs in robotics, 3D printing and coding, among other fields. The Parashars invented Dobot, a fully automated robot designed to serve as a contactless delivery assistant in hospitals, health-care centers and clinics. The Parashars plan to use the prize money to market and sell the robot, run demos in hospitals, and make an autonomous prototype in a plastic body for greater functionality and visual appeal.

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