By: Audra Darbyshire

In an era where technology is transforming every facet of our lives, it’s inspiring to meet young innovators who are not only embracing these changes but also driving them. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Prerana, a remarkable 16-year-old from Toronto, Canada, who is already making waves with her innovative ideas and projects.

Her journey started when she realized that although her classes taught about problems faced by communities around the world, she wasn’t learning how to make a tangible difference. The traditional school classes left her feeling limited in her ability to take meaningful action. Then, a friend introduced her to Technovation.

Unlike the theoretical focus of her school classes, Technovation encouraged Prerana to develop and apply technological skills to solve real-world problems that she cared about. Although she had no prior coding experience, she and her friend were able to learn the skills needed to develop their first mobile application, Aqua Haven, to help Indigenous communities locate clean water sources and educate users on water sanitation. This experience empowered her to turn her passion into action and taught her the importance of innovation in making a real impact.

Since then, she has worked with friends to develop a handful of technological solutions to problems ranging from water access and conservation to teen mental health. One project, a water conserving showerhead, even led her to pitch on Dragon’s Den, resulting in an investment by Wes Hall. This experience not only boosted her confidence but also solidified her interest in merging technology with impactful solutions and entrepreneurship.

Prerana’s Venture into AI:

One of Prerana’s most ambitious projects to date is Project Heart Scope, which she co-developed with her friend Diane. “I realized that while I loved business, I needed a stronger technical foundation,” she said. “That’s when I decided to delve into artificial intelligence (AI), especially its applications in healthcare.” Project Heartscope aims to build a collection of machine learning models for diagnosing cardiovascular diseases. The project’s primary focus is on detecting cardiomegaly, a condition characterized by an enlarged heart.

The solution has the potential to make early detection of heart diseases possible on a global scale, even for communities with limited healthcare infrastructure and access to experts in the field. “Our goal is to expand this to other cardiovascular diseases and eventually integrate our system into clinical workflows.”

A Message to Young Innovators:

Prerana’s advice to aspiring young innovators is simple yet profound: just say yes. Throughout her journey, she has learned that the first step towards achieving something remarkable often begins with embracing new opportunities, even if they seem daunting. “Say yes to new experiences and don’t be afraid to take risks,” she encourages. “Venturing out of your comfort zone can lead to amazing opportunities and growth.” By adopting this mindset, Prerana believes that young people, especially girls, can unlock their full potential and make significant contributions to the world.

Prerana’s journey is a testament to the immense potential of empowering girls with the skills and opportunities to explore technology and innovation. She is one of many Technovation alumnae already driving significant change around the world, contributing to solving some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Girls are not just future leaders but present-day changemakers. By supporting and nurturing their talents, we can ensure a future where innovation knows no bounds and where young women like Prerana lead the charge in creating solutions for a better world.

Join us in the creation of a generation of female leaders and innovators. Learn more about The AI Forward Alliance and how to become a partner. 

Audra Darbyshire is Creative Manager at Technovation, where she works to share stories and accomplishments from the global community of Technovation alumnae, volunteers, and supporters.