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Women-Focused Biotech Takes Top Prize at Nestlé Skin Health SHIELD Pitch Event

October 22, 2018

Judges award $25,ooo and invite startup to incubator to develop a quantified health biotech solution for older women

NEW YORK (October 11, 2018) – A panel of expert judges from Nestlé Skin Health and Nestlé last week awarded $25,000 in project funding and a year of mentorship support to MenoPal, a New York City-based biotech startup. The startup took top prize at the Journey to Innovation in Skin Health Pitch Event, for its proposal to develop a device that measures and monitors skin parameters, allowing women to better anticipate and manage symptoms of menopause. 

Nestlé Skin Health SHIELD (Skin Health Investigation, Education, Longevity Development), the organizer of the event, is global network of innovation and education hubs dedicated to changing how the world thinks and acts on skin health. SHIELD’s innovation team will provide a workspace and yearlong mentorship to MenoPal as the startup works to bring its device to market. The patent-pending solution will alert users to changes in skin temperature and moisture, two underrecognized indicators of impending symptom flares, such as hot flashes.

“We are excited and inspired to see talented biotech engineers and developers offering a solution for the shockingly underaddressed needs of menopausal women,” said Dr. Warren Winkelman, Senior Medical Director and Head of Medical Innovation for SHIELD. “MenoPal empowers women in a data-driven and quantified way to take control over what can be a distressing transition and minimize their discomfort, uncertainty, and stress. Further, we see this collaboration as an important opportunity to elevate a new narrative in the face of continuing stigma associated with aging and menopause.”

The winning team was selected by a panel of four judges, 3 from Nestlé Skin Health and 1 from Nestlé.  The selection was based on highest numerical score and an overall qualitative analysis of the solution’s business potential. The team’s four members – with backgrounds in biomedical sciences, biomedical engineering, biochemistry, and biopsychology – are recent graduates of the Master’s in Translational Medicine program at City College of New York (CUNY).

“We are thrilled to be recognized for our work and that we have an opportunity to build something that started out as a small idea but now has the potential to make a difference in the individual lives of women,” said Cira Cardaci, one of the founders of MenoPal. “We listened to the needs of women going through menopause and realized our technology could really help address those needs. This is the first product launch for any of us, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with SHIELD and leverage the industry knowledge and experience of the experts there each step of the way as we build our device and prepare to enter the market.”

The SHIELD Pitch Event attracted startup teams from as far away as Switzerland, Germany, the United Kingdom, and California, with 7 teams invited to participate following a competitive application and vetting process. Competitors pitched solutions to one of four challenge areas identified by Nestlé Skin Health as critical to optimizing skin health and overall wellness worldwide.

Other proposed solutions included DNA testing for skin health, software and algorithms to recommend skin-related products and information, devices to measure various skin parameters, and a device to record and track costs related to chronic skin conditions.

Following the 7 pitches, John Hammitt, Executive Director of HITLAB and the event emcee, gave a talk on the importance of innovation and entrepreneurs to the health ecosystem. “Innovators are aggressively driving change,” he explained. “Innovation at the forefront of health is a needed shift to improve lives worldwide.”

SHIELD hosts several innovation events each year, nurturing creation and ideation for new solutions to help people optimize lifelong skin health, nutrition and wellness. The Journey to Innovation in Skin Health Pitch Event, was organized by SHIELD, in collaboration with HITLAB and the Global Coalition on Aging.




Nestlé Skin Health SHIELD is a global network of innovation and education hubs gathering today’s most creative and visionary thinkers from diverse disciplines to generate, develop, and incubate ideas to advance skin health for tomorrow. SHIELD explores creative partnerships, new concepts, and technologies to help preserve lifelong skin health; mitigate the emergence of skin conditions; and integrate the skin dimension into the public consciousness, discourses on policy, and the organization of age-friendly spaces. More information at


HITLAB is an impact-first organization that offers digital health research, advisory, and teaching services to improve health delivery around the world. We help leading organizations ideate, create, evaluate, and diffuse technology-based solutions to pressing healthcare challenges.

Our team of public health professionals, statisticians, clinicians, engineers, economists, strategists, designers, and anthropologists is determined to address healthcare needs across the globe. We work with a wide variety of stakeholders in both the public and private sectors to design and disseminate studies, programs, and products that improve healthcare access and delivery. For more information, please visit or follow the company on Twitter @HITLabNYC.


About the Global Coalition on Aging

GCOA is the world’s leading business voice on aging policy and strategy. GCOA advances policy and market solutions to ensure aging is a path for economic growth, winning business strategies, and social well-being.


Media contact

Sébastien Cros, Head of Corporate Communications, Nestlé Skin Health [email protected]

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