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The InterUniversity FemTechnology Challenge is designed to catalyze the collaboration of medical students with other disciplines such as computer science, biomedical engineering, food science, the social sciences, mechanical engineering,  with research being conducted at their own universities on pressing issues in women’s health to be used as their inspiration to help solve these challenges. Students will form teams with other disciplines or other medical students at their university to tackle a chosen challenge topic. 
Teams can be composed of 2-6 people.

Because:

  1. Women’s health has historically been ignored in terms of research being conducted and practices implemented in a clinical setting.
  2. Furthermore, most research and academic discoveries do not make their way to the bedside of patients where they could be use to radically transform the patient experience. The InterUniversity FemTechnology Challenge is designed to tackle both those problems, by engaging medical students early on with how gender and effective therapy in medicine intersect, as well as inspiring them to search for opportunities to innovate in the area.
  3. The chance to take part in shaping the future of women’s health and interact with top Start-Ups and Researchers in the field as well as meet other students from diverse backgrounds, interested in tackling these important issues

It will be held across a three month period – with the Kick-Off taking place on the 1st of March. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with other challenge-takers as well as start-ups, researchers and community members. Check-Ins will be scheduled at two week intervals, featuring talks on the topic and the opportunity to ask questions of experts and community members in the field, as well as offer help.

The InterUniversity FemTechnology Challenge will take place virtually to enable the widest range of diverse geographically located groups to participate. 
Participants in the Challenge must be enrolled at a university in their Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD studies. Professor Supervision is Encouraged. 
Participants will have the opportunity to engage with other challenge-takers as well as start-ups, researchers and community members. Check-Ins will be scheduled at two week intervals, featuring case studies and talks on innovations in women’s health,  with the additional opportunity to ask questions and help of experts and community members in the field.

That’s terrific to hear ! Unfortunately, you cannot enter to solve the Challenges directly but you can still be a part of the process in one of several ways:

  1. As a community Member
  2. As a Startup
  3. As a Researcher or Professor
  4. As a Sponsor

There will be 3 separate Challenges

1.    The First will Focus on the Role of the Environment + Female Reproductive Health: potential areas to tackle are Endometriosis, Infertility, PCOS.  

2.   Disease Manifestation in Women: Chronic Pain, Depression

3. Differences in Immunity; from cyclical immunity to autoimmune diseases

Why Chronic Pain?
Because … 70% of the people Chronic Pain impacts are women – however 80% of pain studies are conducted on male mice or human men. Unsurprisingly, there are gender differences in the way women and men respond to analgesic drugs – as well as the way women and men experience the sensation of pain – but this has yet to be incorporated into evidence based medicine and women’s pain is routinely dismissed as psychological when compared to their male counterparts.

Why the Immune System?
Because … 80
% of all patients diagnosed with autoimmune diseases are women. Furthermore, the prevalence of autoimmune diseases in the general population is on the rise (some autoimmune diseases increasing in incidence by as much as 9% each year). Sex is a biological variable that affects the functions of the immune system, and women experience cyclical variations in their immune system in function of their menstrual cycle – but this knowledge has not yet been systematically integrated into the way treatment is dispensed.

Why PCOS?
Because… Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is the major endocrinopathy among reproductive-aged women. It affects 4%–20% of women of reproductive age worldwide and yet it is not perceived as an important health problem in the world. The variability in symptoms and how they present in different people means that up to 75%of women with PCOS do not receive a diagnosis for their condition.
This is significant because PCOS is linked to other serious health conditions, such as metabolic and cardiovascular comorbiditiesinfertilitypregnancy complicationsTrusted Sourcepsychological disorders, and cancer. An updated report shows that the long-term cost of treating the health effects of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)—$4.3 billion—is even higher than $3.7 billion it takes to diagnose and treat immediate issues that present for women who are of reproductive age.

Sure thing! As long as your solution targets one of these issues you are free to submit it … but there’s no shortage of aspects to target in case you’re in need of some inspiration: 

1.    Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome:
Potential aspects to tackle:
a. Diagnosis:

– No single test exists to diagnose PCOS. Instead doctors must rely on symptom manifestation, a physical exam, hormonal blood values and sometimes a pelvic ultrasound to determine whether PCOS, and not another condition, is causing the array of signs and symptoms.  The the exact cause of PCOS remains unknown.

b. Classification

PCOS presents differently depending on the phenotype.  The phenotypic division of patients with PCOS-related infertility can help in prognosticating the severity of the disease and the fertility outcome. 

c.           Care:

Only a third of women surveyed with PCOS reported feeling satisfied with their overall diagnostic experience. 35% said they saw three or four health professionals before finding someone who could help, and 12% saw five or more. 43% of women were diagnosed within six months of seeking medical attention, while about 34% said it took more than two years.  Current PCOS treatment focuses on managing individual concerns, such as infertility, hirsutism, acne or obesity.

 

2.    Immune System :
a. The immune system and  parameters of inflammation change cyclically during a woman’s menstrual cycle.   How can women women’s immune systems best be optimized to target chronic diseases that are made worse due to an increase in inflammation 
or avoid falling ill when their immune system is weakened during specific portions of their menstrual cycle? 

b. Is there a way to harness the knowledge of differences between male and female  immune systems to target diseases or transitional states that solely or primarily affect females such as IBD, menopause and autoimmune disorders?  

3. Chronic Pain: 

One obstacle women in chronic pain face is physician attitudes and practices regarding their diagnosis.  Women are less likely to be believed than their male counterparts.  Knowing that evaluating pain is a subjective measure and that there are lengthy delays in care and diagnosis surrounding many gynecological diseases/syndromes/states (due in part to physicians being less likely to believe men when they say something is wrong) – is there a way to use the variety of tracking services women now employ, in the form of wearables, period tracking apps etc.to speed up the access to care via quantifiable physiological data demonstrating their pain? Or, conversely, are there specific trigger symptoms that can be identified for physicians to be made aware that their patients are in need of treatment? What is the best way to link the tracking of a woman’s symptoms to care? 

Next Steps

Step #1: Register Your Interest

Interested in Participating in the Challenges? Sign Up Now to stay Up to Date with the latest Developments and be informed when the first Videos about the topics drop as well as what the prizes will be

Step #2: Form A Team

Start looking around for Team Members. Teams can contain a maximum of six individuals, and a minimum of two people. Tell your friends, your classmates - you never know who might want to participate. If you can't find anyone, not to worry ... we will pair you up with others on the hunt for a Team.

Step #3: Start Researching

This is optional of course. You can wait till March 1st (the official Kick-Off date) to start thinking about the topic + we will provide you with a crash course on each of the topics as well as the bi-monthly check-ins with startups and researchers - but if you're feeling inspired already - why not start looking around for research being done at your University on Women's health or Professors in the field that might be able to help you out?

"How do I win?"

aka Selection Criteria

#1 Medical Accuracy + Applicability

Your solution needs to be scientifically plausible and incorporate clinicians and/or researchers in its approach. Ideally, it will solve a need for them.

#2 Solves A Need

As mentioned above, ideally your solution will at the very least solve a physician or researcher need, but hopefully it will solve an issue faced by patients as well

#3 Design

You are completely free as to the form your solution will take. It can be the design of a clinical trial, a wearable, an app etc. but points will be awarded in function of how usable the approach is

February Timeline
March Timeline
April Timeline
May Timeline
June Timeline
February Timeline
February 23, 2022

February 23rd: InterUniversity Mingling Opportunity

Participants will have the opportunity to interact with everyone that has enrolled to participate in the challenges
23 February
Location:  Participants will have the opportunity to interact with everyone that has enrolled to participate in the challenges
March Timeline
January 1, 1970
12:00 am

March 1st: Deadline to Register + Virtual Kick-Off Event

1 January
Time:  12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: 
12:00 am

March 14th: Startup Perspectives

Start Ups share how they are tackling issues in women’s health
1 January
Time:  12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location:  Start Ups share how they are tackling issues in women’s health

March 29th: Research Perspectives

Top researchers in the field present their findings
1 January
Location:  Top researchers in the field present their findings
April Timeline
January 1, 1970
12:00 am

April 12th: Community Perspectives

Feedback and needs from a patient perspective
1 January
Time:  12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location:  Feedback and needs from a patient perspective

April 26th: Expert Meet Up to provide advice for Specific Challenges

1 January
May Timeline
January 1, 1970
12:00 am

May 3rd: Community Feedback Event

Feedback from a patient perspective
1 January
Time:  12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location:  Feedback from a patient perspective

May 18th: Final Pitch

Participants will be evaluated by 3 Judges + the Community
1 January
Location:  Participants will be evaluated by 3 Judges + the Community
June Timeline
January 1, 1970

2 June : Winning Teams present at the FemTechnology Summit

1 January

Media coverage

A workshop is embedded into a conference; it doesn’t take place on its own, but it takes place during the main conference.

New topics

The summit is an excellent opportunity to socialize and build lasting relationships with other members of the field

Coffee breaks

Completely synergize resource taxing relationships via premier niche markets. Professionally cultivate customer service.

Experience

Meet the experts from the tech and design world you follow online.

Networking

Connect with and exchange ideas with designers from all over the world.

Afterparty

Celebrate in a unique location & create great memories with our international community.