If left untreated, neonatal jaundice can cause kernicterus, a form of brain damage with complications including deafness, cerebral palsy, and death. In the US, phototherapy treatment (shining wavelength-specific light on the baby) has virtually eliminated kernicterus, but in developing countries like India only a small segment of the population has access to effective treatment.
In order to improve patient access to neonatal jaundice treatment in rural Indian clinics, this team - working with the non-profit technology incubator, Design Revolution - is developing a low cost, low maintenance opto-medical device. Instead of using fluorescent tube or compact fluorescent bulbs, the team’s device uses more efficient, high-intensity blue LEDs that can be supported by a battery backup.
Brilliance in India: New deal allows Bay-area firm to fight neonatal jaundice in rural India - Fast Company (Jan 2011)
September 2012: Brilliance is on the market in India and they are looking to expand to East Africa. The team estimates that 13 babies per device per month will get treatment in urban hospitals, which means lives saved and brain damage averted.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009 - $46,200
Cycle Ventures, one of nine “D-Lab” classes at MIT, has a specific focus on creating pedal-powered innovations for international development. The Rickshaw Bank (TRB), formed in 2004, is a micro-credit organization in India that lets people lease-to-own rickshaws, usually in one to two years. This grant will fund a partnership between Cycle Ventures and TRB, with the goal of making TRB’s rickshaws cheaper, easier for the driver to pedal, and more attractive to customers. The team has identified three technical areas to focus on: the overall rickshaw structure; adding a suspension element to the frame; and improving the drive train. Over the course of two years the team will conduct overlapping waves of site visits, design, prototyping, and implementation.
Student entrepreneurs in Colorado State University’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise program build sustainable ventures with a focus on an integrated bottom line. But, since these types of ventures can require a lot of time to develop before securing financial support, several of the program’s ventures have ceased to exist due to financial, time and other development pressures. In order to help sustainability-focused student ventures actually become successful businesses or organizations as students complete their studies, this grant will help launch the Sustainable Venture Accelerator (SVA) at Colorado State University. SVA’s three main objectives are to: engage outside specialists as Entrepreneurs in Residence to mentor SVA businesses; develop a network to help advance ventures; and provide space and resources. The long-term goal is for SVA to be sustained by taking equity interest in the student start-ups it supports.
Accessing quality health care in rugged, mountainous areas like the communities surrounding Waslala, Nicaragua is a difficult challenge. About 10,000 people live in the town of Waslala itself, while 35,000 live in the 85 isolated rural communities surrounding it. While the town has a small hospital with full-time staff, residents of the rural areas can obtain health care only at clinic outposts from lay health workers with minimal experience and few supplies. If there is an emergency, the hospital is hours away on poor roads.
In order to make quality health care more accessible in the Waslala region, this team of students and faculty is developing cell phone-based technology for transmitting basic patient data in the form of coded text messaging from a rural health care worker to a central clinic for a trained health care provider to review. The doctor or nurse can then text back treatment suggestions for the health care worker to implement.
Sustainable Vision grants fund educational programs where breakthrough technologies are created and commercialized for the benefit of people living in poverty in the US and abroad. Grants of up to $50,000 are available for faculty at US universities.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2006 - $42,650
The Development Entrepreneurship (DE) program at MIT, established in 2005 with the idea of having teams of students develop technological solutions for poverty alleviation in the developing world, has five successful projects under its belt and has expanded the program into Africa. Now the DE team will expand its work into Central and South America through a collaboration with the Sumaq Alliance, a group of eight business schools in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets.
Summer 2009 update: As of October 2007 the team established a program at INCAE, a collaboration, which leveraged Costa Rican government interest to fund an innovations/entrepreneurship class shared by 2 institutions.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2006 - $35,700
This team focuses on developing partnership to help move ideas from MIT labs to the developing world. The project begins with D-Lab, a collection of classes and field trips at MIT that focus on having students to create sustainable solutions to the problems of poverty and environmental degradation in developing countries. Although some of the products that have come out of D-Lab have gone on to wider distribution, most haven't moved beyond the pilot phase, primarily due to students choosing not to pursue the projects further. To solve the problem, MIT faculty have partnered with a Pakistani NGO to create the Innovations in International Health (IIH) program, which aims to give students access to the support and resources necessary to bring their products to market. IIH will consist of a tightly knit network of organizations doing work in the developing world, including research entities, NGOs, government agencies, and community partners. The goal is for the network to provide students with engineering ideas to pursue and the means to bring the resulting inventions to market.
Summer 2009 update: IIH has created a network of global health professionals to provide students with opportunities for continued development of global health technology projects. IIH has enabled the development of 21 medical technology products, such as Aerovax, XoutTB, the Spirulina Bioreacator, PortaTherm and uBox. PortaTherm is currently in the field-testing stage of development and two clinical trials of XoutTB have been conducted. Both uBox and Aerovax have applied for patents. In total 16 projects have been launched by IIH, and three centers of excellence in appropriate medical technologies have been established, while the IIH footprint has expanded to more than 7 countries. This team also created a non-profit organization called Innovators in Health and has secured additional funding from sources such as the Lord Foundation, IADB and an NIH enabled grant.