Embrace Innovations is a social enterprise that has developed a low cost infant warmer to help millions of vulnerable babies around the world. Its vision is to empower the disadvantaged through disruptive healthcare technologies.
Focus: Health, Technology
Geographic Area of Impact: India
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: Over 3,000 babies
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2013
There are over 20 million premature and low birth weight babies born each year globally. Four million babies die within the first 28 days of their life, with more than a quarter of these deaths occurring in India alone. Those who survive often grow up to have lifelong problems such as low IQ, early onset of diabetes, and heart diseases. Hypothermia is a significant problem faced by many of these babies.
The current technological solution for hypothermia is using incubators or radiant warmers, whose primary function is to provide thermal regulation to babies. However, these devices are expensive, and require a constant supply of electricity, trained personnel, and regular maintenance. Furthermore, they are often found only in major urban hospitals.
Innovation and Activities
Embrace has developed a low cost infant warmer for premature and low birth weight babies in developing countries. The Embrace infant warmer has three components: an infant-sized sleeping bag, a heater, and a pouch of phase change material. The pouch is warmed in the heater (separate from the sleeping bag) and then placed into a compartment of the sleeping bag where it maintains a constant temperature of 98°F for 4-6 hours. The Embrace infant warmer is safe and intuitive to use, easy to clean, and portable. It also complements the practice of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) and allows close mother to child interaction.
Embrace has helped over 3,000 babies since its launch. Its current focus is in India, and it has launched pilot projects in 9 other countries including Uganda, Zambia, Somalia and Mexico. It is working with partners to expand into more countries.
In addition to impacting the lives of infants and their families, Embrace is changing the way healthcare technologies are developed and deployed in developing countries. The traditional approach has been to modify technologies in the developed world to make them suitable for developing countries. However, this often does not take into account the systemic challenges faced by developing countries such as the lack of electricity, and unavailability of skilled medical staff. Embrace is developing disruptive technologies especially relevant for developing countries based on local constraints and sensitivities.
Jane Chen is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Embrace Innovations. Jane started her career as a management consultant at the Monitor Group, where she was advising Fortune 500 companies. Inspired to empower the disadvantaged, she then worked in China and Africa with NGOs focused on HIV/AIDS. Jane is a TED Senior Fellow, an Echoing Green Fellow, and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a Master's in Public Administration from Harvard University.
Rahul Panicker is a co-founder of Embrace Innovations and serves as the President of Products. At Embrace, his mission is to understand the rural users and their aspirations, and translate their needs to products by applying his training in design thinking and the entrepreneurial approach he engaged in Silicon Valley. His work has taken him through the many villages and small towns of India, from Bhorugram in Rajasthan, to Bamni in Chattisgarh, to Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh. He previously worked at Infinera Corporation, in a team led by the Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer. Rahul holds an MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, and a B.Tech from IIT Madras. He is an alumnus of the d.school at Stanford.
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