MIT Solve joins the WFP Innovation bootcamp with solutions for maternal and newborn health

By Linda Nyemba

Past participants at a virtual WFP innovation bootcamp.

The WFP Innovation Accelerator is kicking off the 2021 innovation bootcamp season by delivering number 33 — virtually. The bootcamp is a collaboration with MIT Solve, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a marketplace for social impact innovation.

Through open innovation challenges, MIT Solve sources tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world, then brings together MIT’s innovation ecosystem and a community of Members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to drive lasting, transformational impact. In September 2020, MIT Solve selected its newest class of 35 entrepreneurs innovating to take on world challenges. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Funded Award, made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), was granted to five of these -“Solver”-teams participating in the bootcamp with solutions in the Maternal & Newborn Health Challenge. The sixth team, Moskeet, is not a BMGF Funded Award recipient but a Solver team whose solution focuses on the prevention and control of mosquito-borne diseases.

This bootcamp will consist of three-days of concentrated programming. To showcase the innovations to an external audience, a final pitch event will occur in March 2021 alongside the BMGF’s Grand Challenge Explorations (GCE) cohort 25.

Dialing in from Kenya, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, India and the United States, the innovation teams will join on a journey of ideation, project design, and innovation. Check out the teams and their ideas below:

1. Bioforge Neonatal Incubator

In the current Rohingya population of Bangladesh, there are an estimated 130 live births everyday. 11 percent of these newborns need intensive care but lack access. Bioforge Neonatal Incubator is offering a low cost, easy to assemble neonatal incubator, specifically designed for low resource settings.

2. Democratizing Ultrasounds Across Africa

In rural and peri-urban Kenya, there is a high maternal and infant mortality rate in part due to the high-cost-of-ultrasound and limited access to qualified sonographers. Ilara Health’s-solution is Butterfly iQ, a scalable portable, telemedicine-enabled, ultrasound device for primary care clinics in remote areas.

3. Maisha

Although postpartum depression (PPD) affects the quality of life of both the mother and child, it is given little consideration within the healthcare system in Africa. Maisha by Thalia Psychotherapy aims to improve PPD treatment in Africa through standardized screening practices and in-person and virtual support solutions for patients.

4. Maziwa Breast Pump

Mothers in developing markets are faced with the tradeoff between returning to work to support their families and staying at home to breastfeed. Maziwa gives mothers a safe, discreet, convenient and affordable way to express breastmilk in any workplace.

5. Salamat

Every 27 minutes, a woman in Afghanistan dies due to complications in childbirth. In 3 out of 4 cases, the newborn dies too. These deaths can be prevented by addressing three key barriers to high-quality and affordable health care: lack of maternal health education, resources, and communication. Salamat is a maternal health app that improves follow-up and continuity of care through improved patient records, communication and education.

6. Moskeet

Mosquito-borne diseases, such as Malaria, Dengue fever, Chikungunya and Zika viruses, are posing a global challenge impacting public health. Moskeet provides real-time analytics on mosquito surveillance, control, disease transmission, outbreaks, and hot spots.

Follow each project’s progress at the WFP Innovation Accelerator bootcamp , from 26–28 January 2021, on Twitter: @WFPInnovation.

The WFP Innovation Accelerator sources, supports and scales high-potential solutions to end hunger worldwide. We provide WFP staff, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies and non-governmental organizations with access to funding, mentorship, hands-on support and WFP operations.

Find out more about us: innovation.wfp.org. Subscribe to our e-newsletter. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and watch our videos on YouTube.

Sourcing, supporting and scaling high-impact innovations to disrupt hunger.