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Major awards for innovative solutions to prevent infant/maternal deaths

WASHINGTON (July 31, 2013) The Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development today announced 22 Round 3 award nominees from a pool of 53 finalists innovators who descended on Washington for three days to showcase bold, new ideas to save the lives of mothers and newborns in developing countries with aspirations of international funding to realize their vision.

The award nominees cut across maternal and neonatal health, family planning, nutrition and HIV and they present not only cutting-edge technologies that can be used in resource-poor settings, but innovative approaches to delivering services and the adoption of healthy behaviors. The announcement was made at the closing forum of the DevelopmentXChange by the Saving Lives at Birth partners. The nominees will now enter into final negotiations before awards are issued.

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), and the U.K's Department for International Development (DFID). The grand challenge is a global call for groundbreaking, scalable solutions to prevent infant and maternal deaths around the time of birth.

The Saving Lives at Birth DevelopmentXChange provided a platform for top global innovators to present their ideas in an open, dynamic marketplace and exchange ideas with development experts and potential funders to help meet the immense challenge of protecting mothers and newborns in the poorest places on earth, during their most vulnerable hours. Other promising ideas will be considered for "incubator awards" to assist innovators in further developing their ideas through dialogue and mentorship.

Award nominees of Saving Lives at Birth Round 3 include 4 transition-to-scale grant nominees:

  • Africare Dakar, Senegal: A collaborative community-based technology that integrates community support services with mobile and telemedicine platforms to increase demand for, and access to, quality prenatal care services in Senegal.

  • Epidemiological Research Center in Sexual and Reproductive Health Guatemala City, Guatemala: An integrated approach to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality in Northern Guatemala through simulation-based training, social marketing campaigns and formal health care system engagement.

  • Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, MA, USA: A next-generation uterine balloon tamponade (UBT) device to treat postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) in Kenya and South Sudan.

  • The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus, OH, USA: A low-cost paper-based urine test for early diagnosis of pre-eclampsia to reduce pre-eclampsia morbidity and mortality in resource-limited areas

And 18 seed grant nominees:

  • BILIMETRIX SRL Trieste, Italy: An inexpensive system to rapidly test for markers of hyperbilirubinemia (kernicterus)an often fatal form of brain damage caused by excessive jaundice in low resource settings in Nigeria, Egypt, and Indonesia.

  • Bioceptive, Inc. New Orleans, LA, USA: A low-cost, reusable, and intuitive intrauterine device (IUD) inserter to make the IUD insertion procedure easier and safer in low-resource settings.

  • Convergent Engineering Inc. Newberry, FL, USA: An inexpensive, easy-to-use, handheld early-warning system that detects pre-eclampsia 10-12 weeks before the onset symptoms. The system pairs a wrist strap embedded with inexpensive ECG and photoplethysmography sensors with a smart phone for processing, data aggregation, and communication.

  • JustMilk - Dept. of Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge Cambridge, UK: A low-cost system that aids the administration of drugs and nutrients to breastfeeding infants via easily disintegrating tablets housed within a modified Nipple Shield Delivery System (NSDS).

  • Dimagi, Inc. (CommTrack) Cambridge, MA, USA: An open-source distribution management system integrating mobile and GPS technology to improve transparency, supply chain functioning, communication, and the timely delivery of medicine to hard to reach, low-income areas in Africa.

  • Duke University Durham, NC, USA: Healthcare system integration of the "Pratt Pouch"a tiny ketchup-like packet that stores antiretroviral AIDS medication for a yearto enable the pouch to be used in home-birth settings to prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child. Testing taking place in Zambia.

  • Emory University Atlanta, GA, USA: A micro-needle patch that co-administers the influenza and tetanus toxoid vaccines to pregnant mothers and children in developing countries.

  • Mbarara University of Science and Technology Mbarara, Uganda: The Augmented Infant Resuscitator (AIR) which gives instant feedback to healthcare professionals performing newborn resuscitation to reduce neonatal deaths from intrapartum birth asphyxia or prematurity.

  • Nanobiosym, Inc Cambridge, MA, USA: A nanotech platform which enables rapid, accurate and mobile HIV diagnosis at point-of-care, allowing for timely treatment with antiretroviral therapy to reduce HIV-related mortality in infants in Rwanda.

  • Oregon Health and Science University Portland, OR, USA: The Xstat mini-sponge applicator for the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH).

  • Population Services International Washington DC, USA: A new inserter for immediate postpartum intrauterine device (PPIUD) insertions to increase contraceptive uptake in developing countries.

  • President and Fellows of Harvard College Boston, MA, USA: A handheld vital sign monitor for the rapid diagnosis of frail and sick newborns.

  • Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) Seattle, WA, USA: A heat-stable oxytocin in a fast-dissolving oral tablet to treat postpartum hemorrhage (PPH).

  • Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) Seattle, WA, USA: A magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) gel that simplifies treatment of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.
  • The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System Madison, WI, USA: A Lactobacillus casei strain that enables the sustainable home production of beta-Carotene enriched dairy products for at-risk mothers and families in Southern Asia.

  • The University of Melbourne Melbourne, Australia: A low-cost, electricity-free oxygen concentrator suitable for providing provisional oxygen for neonates in low-resource settings.

  • University of Toronto Toronto, Canada: A spray-encapsulated iron premix that will be attached to tea leaves to reduce rates of iron deficiency of pregnant women in South Asia.

  • University of Valencia Valencia, Spain: A rapid point-of-care test strips for early diagnosis of sepsis in pregnancy and childbirth.

The Saving Lives at Birth DevelopmentXChange featured discussions focused on meeting the needs and realities of women and children in low-resource settings as well as workshops that explored business planning, market research, impact investing, and strategies for scaling their innovations. The three-day event concluded with a forum featuring Ambassador Susan E. Rice, National Security Advisor; Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator, USAID; HRH Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan; New York Times best-selling author Dan Heath and NASA astronaut Col. Ron Garan (ret.).

Leading into the DevelopmentXChange, existing Saving Lives at Birth grantees participated in a three-day, customized training program a focal point of the global health Xcelerator. This eight-month program, offered through a partnership between National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), the Lemelson Foundation and USAID, provides grantees the tools and knowledge to scale their ideas and maximize the impact of their innovations.

Every year 150,000 mothers and 1.6 million newborns die during childbirth and 1.2 million infants are stillborn. In an effort to accelerate progress toward the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, which aim to end preventable child and maternal deaths, this partnership brings together leading innovators, development experts, and potential funders in an open, dynamic marketplace of ideas, the DevelopmentXChange builds a community of creative thinkers to address this global need. Saving Lives at Birth has funded 39 innovations since the challenge began in 2011.


Contact: Terry Collins
Grand Challenges Canada

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