Applications under review. Finalists announced on the 6th of November.
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Gender inequities in global health security are undermining the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the achievement of health for all. Strong health systems that can withstand the next global health crisis must be built on equality, and gender equality is fundamental. Strong health systems harness the best possible talent, expertise and diverse perspectives in decision making. Currently, women are the vast majority of health and social care workers but largely excluded from decision making, to the detriment of everybody's health.

To ensure that health systems are better prepared for the next crisis, WGH, supported by the 
Novartis Foundation, is hosting a digital innovation challenge.


Advance gender equity through digital and AI solutions for global health security and health systems

As the world learns to live with the corona virus, 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 coach who will be assigned by WGH and the Novartis Foundation. Additionally, the winner will also receive a marketing package worth €10,000 sponsored by InspiredMinds. These mentors will be assigned by Women in Global Health.



  1. Your start-up must be led or (co-)founded by a woman ✓

  2. Your start-up must be working/based/partnering with a low-middle income country, as defined by the World Bank ✓

  3. Your start-up must focus on advancing gender equality 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 digital finals on the 18th and 19th of November 2020 (09:00-11:00 EST) ✓


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. Write a 1-page proposal that details:

    • Your idea for an innovation

    • The perceived impact of your innovation 

    • Potential scalability of the innovation

  2. (Optional) Create a short 90 second video pitch that answers the following questions and upload your video pitch onto YouTube. Make sure your video pitch is private.

    • 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?

  3. Submit your application by filling out the Google Form, uploading your 1-page proposal, and pasting your optional YouTube URL.

The applications will be reviewed by our external panel of judges! 

 Six finalists will be chosen and asked to pitch their ideas during the two-day virtual event on the 18th and 19th of November (09:00-11:00 EST). 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.