After fierce competition, 12 of the world’s most promising ideas to save lives at birth in developing countries have edged out nearly 650 other applicants, securing millions in new funding to develop and refine their innovations.
From a low-cost breathing aid for infants suffering from respiratory distress to an electricity-free infusion pump, Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Developmentwill invest more than $3.4 million in groundbreaking solutions to protect and support mothers and newborns when they are most vulnerable – during and immediately after delivery. The announcement was made last week at the sixth annual DevelopmentXChange in Washington, D.C., an event that has served as the premier launching pad for global entrepreneurs to develop transformational solutions for maternal and newborn survival, and prevention of stillbirth, with the goal of making them accessible to the poorest, most remote communities in the world.
The 12 award nominees were selected from more than 650 submissions, with applicants coming from 78 countries. More than half of the applications came from low-and middle-income countries. They are now part of a growing community of over 93 innovators supported by the Saving Lives at Birth partnership.
The two-day DevelopmentXChange also included a pitch competition featuring 9 entrepreneurs who had received previous support from Saving Lives at Birth, and are now showing great promise for potential partnership and further investment. Bempu Health, who is validating a newborn temperature monitoring band, won the pitch competition and Fundação Oswaldo Cruz received the most votes in the honorary People’s Choice Award for the development of Baby Thermocrowns, a focused therapeutic hypothermia treatment similar to a helmet to prevent neonatal encephalopathy. Bempu Health, for the validation of a device to detect and stimulate newborns in the event of apnea of prematurity, and PATH, for the development and evaluation of the RELI Delivery System-an innovative, simplified, low-cost infusion pump for obstetric and newborn emergencies, won the honorary Peer Choice Awards.
Award nominees for Saving Lives at Birth’s Sixth Call for Innovations include:
Six validation nominees:
Yale University (USA): validating PremieBreathe, a low-cost breathing aid for infants suffering from respiratory distress.
Monash University (Australia): facilitating rapid adoption of inhaled oxytocin by providing an evidence base and strategy for effective and efficient implementation.
Save the Children Federation Inc. (USA): validating a point-of-care device that measures and interprets key vital signs among young infants and children to improve the quality of pneumonia case management and serious bacterial infections at community and health facility levels.
William Marsh Rice University (USA): validating AutoSyp, a low-cost, low-power syringe pump used to deliver fluids and medication to maternal and newborn patients.
The University of Sydney (Australia): testing the optimal daily dosage of bovine lactoferrin for infants and its efficacy in preventing neonatal infections.
University Of Melbourne (Australia): validating a low-cost electricity-free oxygen concentrator to increase access to oxygen therapy in Uganda.
Six seed grant nominees:
Bempu Health Private Limited (India): developing the APNEBOOT, a boot-shaped foot monitor that alerts health care providers while stimulating the baby’s food to prevent potential health ramifications during an apnea event.
Oxford (United Kingdom): creating phone-based simulation games to provide training to healthcare providers for emergency maternal and neonatal health situations.
Open Development, LLC (USA): building and testing an application to streamline patient, provider, and payer transactions in the public and private sectors to accelerate access to quality health services for pregnant women and newborns in Liberia.
D-Tree International, Inc. (USA): developing a phone-based monitor and support tool to continually track uterine contractions and heart rates of both mother and baby and provide decision tools to healthcare workers for timely and effective interventions in Tanzania.
PATH (USA): developing a low-cost, easy-to-use, electricity-free infusion pump that provides safe and accurate delivery of lifesaving medications, fluids, and nutrition in newborn and obstetric emergencies.
Queen’s University Belfast (United Kingdom): developing and testing a microneedle patch to deliver the antibiotics of amoxicillin and gentamicin for treatment of newborn sepsis.
Transition-to-scale awards will be announced at a later date.
About Saving Lives at Birth
The Saving Lives at Birth partnership, launched in 2011, includes the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada (funded by the Government of Canada), the U.K’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). It is a global call for groundbreaking, scalable solutions to end infant and maternal mortality around the time of birth.
Saving Lives at Birth aims to address the 303,000 maternal deaths, 2.7 million neonatal deaths, and 2.6 million stillbirths that occur each year around the world. To date, successfulSaving Lives at Birth innovations are already beginning to scale supporting over 1.5 million women and newborns and saving nearly 10,000 lives.