There are many in our community who share Southwestern Medical Foundation’s vision to advance public health by creating opportunities for change. Health Wildcatters, a local company that backs health care startup firms, hosts an annual Texas Health Care Challenge hackathon. These hackathons are weekend-long events that bring professionals and students alike together to tackle some of the health care industry’s biggest pain points. Recently, the company hosted its second hackathon specifically catered to women innovators, the WISH (Women in Science and Health Care) hackathon. This year, ‘The Scavengers,’ grabbed the judging panel’s attention and were named as one of the finalists. See how this team of female entrepreneurs plan to reduce PPE waste through an innovative process.
Southwestern Medical Foundation is a proud sponsor of the WISH hackathon. We feel privileged to be a part of this important initiative by Health Wildcatters to disrupt the health care industry and find innovative solutions in health care.
We had the opportunity to discuss the inspiring work of some of this year’s WISH hackathon participants, including Girija Naidu, who was on the team “The Scavengers.” Her team was one of the winning finalists, presenting an innovative way to utilize UV light technology to reduce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) waste during the COVID-19 pandemic by sanitizing masks and gloves for multiple, safe uses in health care facilities.
An Interview with Girija Naidu: From “The Scavengers”
Q: What motivated you to participate in the Health Wildcatters WISH hackathon?
A: I came across this opportunity by chance. Dr. Tina Saw, one of the speakers at the event, had posted some information about it on a Facebook group that I am a part of. I was curious and so I decided to apply. I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised to have had such an amazing experience.
Q: How did you decide to pick your team?
A: All my team members approached me after hearing my pitch on the first day. I could not have been more pleased with how well we worked together despite meeting each other for the first time, especially being all virtual. I also loved how we all came from different backgrounds.
Q: What is most inspiring to you about participating in an all-women science and health hackathon?
A: It was amazing to see so many women be so passionate about the different issues we face in health care and come up with such well-thought-out solutions in such a short period of time. I also am so grateful to all the organizers and mentors for making such events possible. It was so heartwarming to see how they tirelessly worked for such a good cause.
Q: What was the biggest takeaway you left with after the WISH hackathon?
A: Anything is possible. I have never been so energized and focused for such an extended period of time. On the second day of the hackathon, our team worked together for eight hours non-stop with just a short break for lunch. We had never met each other prior to this event and each of us lived in a different location across the country and yet we really enjoyed working together. I am so proud of the work we produced as a result. This goes to show you the power of women and the human spirit.
We had never met each other prior to this event and each of us lived in a different location across the country and yet we really enjoyed working together. I am so proud of the work we produced as a result. This goes to show you the power of women and the human spirit.Girija Naidu
Q: What would your advice be to an aspiring entrepreneur?
A: I am an aspiring entrepreneur myself. This was my first hackathon experience and I absolutely loved it. Events like this give us validation that our ideas are worth pursuing and that is priceless. The host of efforts that went into
putting such an event together shows that there are some very kind people out there who give their time and energy to have other people’s dreams come true, making a better world for all of us.
Q&A with another Female Entrepreneur from The Scavengers
Get more insight from another member of ‘The Scavengers’ team. Meet I-Mei Liao, another female entrepreneur who helped develop a plan to reduce PPE waste alongside Girija Naidu.