The Girls4Tech project school was held on June 30, with parallel events held in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Experts picked 30-odd participants from each of the cities and split them into teams of two. The women developed their projects with mentors, and attended a hackathon at ITMO University in late August, where they solved issues put forward by the event’s partner companies. This allowed them to improve their projects, present them to investors and experts and continue their work.

“We started by collecting 286 applications and picking those who showed them most potential in regards to high-tech entrepreneurship. They’d endured three months of project work and a 48-hour hackathon,” – explains Timofey Golovin, corporate service directors at NUMA Moscow.

The best business projects, as deemed by the jury, are: FilEco, a project for the production of eco-friendly 3D-printing filament made from recyclables and biodegradable material (Moscow) and the “Head” project from St. Petersburg. Another project from that city, “Welcome Home”, a digital platform for real estate transactions, was invited by Microsoft to the company’s startup support program Microsoft Bizspark.

FilEco helps solve the issue of waste plastic that is often left over from 3D printing. Authors propose to recycle and reuse it. They also plan to launch a production of eco-friendly filament for FDM 3D printers made of grass plants. A prototype of the material was shown during the presentation.

“Welcome Home” aims to simplify and optimize real estate transactions. Through an application, users submit requests for the purchase of an apartment and a mortgage, while construction companies save up on the costs of attracting customers. The project has already had its first retail sales.

“With the mass adoption of biometrical documents, people’s trust towards these kinds of purchases will increase,” – notes project co-founder Anna Stepanova – “The Girls4Tech accelerator program has helped me see my project in a different light, which is why I decided to go digital with it.”

The “Head” project is expected to go through three stages of development. The first stage involves the feature that lets users create sets of stickers for online messengers based on users’ faces; the next stage includes the option to model faces in 3D using neural networks. In the end, the project’s authors intend to let users overlay their own face over the face of actors in videos. For that purpose, the developers aim to film videos with actors wearing chroma key masks. Users will then be able to upload their photos and get quality videos starring themselves.

“We think that individuality and customized content are trendy right now. People are tired of standardized stuff,” – explains the project’s author, third-year ITMO student Natalia Kutyina.

Alexandra Bakhareva and Polina Schneider, who won at the Girls4Tech hackathon with their project Remontinder, presented Brand Cable – a marketplace for advertising, sponsorship and branding.

“From my experience, women entrepreneurs are more open and perceptive. In regards to mentorship, men are more reluctant towards mentors and advice. Women, on the other hand, find it easier to consider expert opinions,” – said Pavel Novikov, head of Cloud & FinTech division at Skolkovo.

Jury members gave special mentions to: SmartMirror, a mobile app that gives users clothing recommendations based on their body shape and color and style preferences; Find Your Calling, a career guidance service for school students; Family Pocket, a family budget tracking app. Anastasia Lupachyova, a Ph.D. student at ITMO University, presented CARAMELOGO – a service that offers custom-printed lollipops, some of which can be bought at ITMO’s Museum of Optics.

Tatiana Gaponenko

“The large number of applications to the program proves that initiatives like Girls4Tech are needed,” – says Tatiana Gaponenko, program coordinator and the head of ITMO’s Innovation Office – “What is important right now is that the girls don’t stop at what they’ve already achieved and keep working on their projects; we, the organizers, have done all we could to help them in this endeavor. These are our first graduates, and they’ve shown success, so we are interested in continuing our program; we plan to launch a second round next year”.