Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Bioforge Neonatal Incubator

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One-line solution summary:

A cost effective and easy to assemble incubators for doctors operating within limited resources.

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Pitch your solution.

Around the world, birth is a joyous occasion. Yet, every 11 seconds, a birth is a family tragedy due to the death of a mother or a child. Each year nearly four million newborns die during the first 4 weeks of life. Bangladesh is among the top ten countries with the highest burdens of newborn deaths in the world due to a shortage of proper healthcare. A huge proportion of  these premature deaths can be prevented with access to proper healthcare technologies such as incubators. We aim to create low cost, easy to assemble incubators for regions with limited access to healthcare technology by creating an easily accessible well-regulated thermal environment for neonatal survival. Our solution is also in line with MDG 4, 5 and SDG 3, 9 and 10 giving newborns all around the world a chance to fight for their lives.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

Bangladesh’s neonatal mortality rate is 23 deaths per 1,000 live births (2015). There are roughly 200 incubators in around 1000 government hospitals in Bangladesh. The number is low by itself but many of these incubators are out of operation due to technical faults which cannot be repaired due to lack of knowledge or access to funds as well as the lack of operators. We estimate this to be around 50%. In Dhaka, the capital, incubator facilities can be found but at a very high cost as most of them are privately run. In rural regions, these private services are scarce and almost not affordable for the families. This drives the number of deaths in the rural regions to be significantly higher both because of resource allocation and socioeconomic differences. Our low cost incubators are very easy to assemble and eliminate the need for highly skilled operators to run. As they are designed and manufactured locally repairs are easier. The innovative design also allows the incubators to be transported between different resource constrained areas such as refugee camps and war zones where it can support thousands of infants.

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What is your solution?

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Our solution is to provide easy to assemble incubators at reduced costs in resource constrained environments in Bangladesh and subsequently in different regions of the world. The model is made with readily available resources and built in such a way that they can be easily transported to different regions due to its compact shape. Alternatively, people who are unable to afford or access these incubators can make their own with some basic tools and materials following our design files and documentations. The incubators have features such as body sensors, bed-heating pad, bed heat sensors, bed tilting, and temperature sensors. Our low cost and practical neonatal intensive care incubator will provide all functions of a regular incubator at a fraction of the cost. It is a practical user-friendly, efficient, low maintenance, inexpensive, incubator designed to significantly reduce neonatal mortality and morbidity.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

We aim to tackle and solve the neonatal health problem of premature and low birth weight babies in small, rural area communities, refugee camps and war zones.The low cost, lightweight and practicality of our model will enable the healthcare system and providers in small hospitals and rural area clinics of Bangladesh to provide the early use of incubators, which not only decrease the mortality and morbidity of newborn babies, but it will decrease tremendously the overhead cost and the financial burden on both the system and the families. The treatment of premature and low birthweight babies can be a tremendous financial burden on families, especially those living in the rural regions or war zones with limited income. On top of that, hospitals in such areas have limited or no incubators services, making survival of these babies even more challenging. Therefore, a successful outcome for us is more lives saved and at a lower cost.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Expand access to high-quality, affordable care for women, new mothers, and newborns

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Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.

New born babies at risk can be saved with simple, immediate care such as warming, photo-therapy, respiratory support and protection from infections, which can be provided by incubators. However, in Bangladesh incubators are not readily available in all communities and can be highly expensive. Our low cost incubators increase access for newborns at risk to the proper facilities, decreasing risk of diseases in newborns and supporting them in the fight for their lives.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Dhaka, Bangladesh
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model

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Who is the primary delegate for your solution?

Dr. Dewan Choudhury

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

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Describe what makes your solution innovative.

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Affordability, driven by low cost fabrication using 3D printers and widely available electronics.  We have developed multiple iterations improving on cost and ease of assembly. When disassembled our technology turns into a compact unit which makes it very easy to transport saving babies’ lives in low resources settings. Our design also packs critical features versus a high cost fixed location incubator, all for less.

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Our incubators are made with low cost local fabrication using 3D printers and incorporate easily available sensors or monitors and at the same time the design is as close to the designs available in the market since many doctors are reluctant to try out new designs, they prefer to work with equipment that they are already familiar with. 

Materials used for the design were transparent acrylic, white acrylic, plastic, magnet, screws and nuts. There is one door on the front side giving access to the baby inside. Two hatches on that door that gives access to the baby without opening the whole door. Our incubators have a smooth tilting mechanism made with the use of actuators. There are two holes on each side of the model for wiring that go inside the incubator such as body sensors, bed-heating pad, bed heat sensor, humidity and temperature sensors.

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Provide evidence that this technology works.

We have a working prototype which was built with 3D printers, laser work and low cost electronics. We have already assembled and disassembled a number of times. when disassembled, it turns into a compact unit which is easy to transport.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Manufacturing Technology
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What is your theory of change?

In Bangladesh, for many years, hospitals have been heavily dependent on expensive and imported incubators. By giving them a locally manufactured cost effective unit which delivers most of the benefits doctors expect we aim to collaborate with government and private hospitals to install our incubators and show improved survival rates for newborns. 

The key outcomes of our devices will be:

  • availability of incubator services throughout the country, especially in lower income rural areas,

  • decreased mortality rates all over the country through the spread of highly transportable incubators, 

  • enhanced healthcare services to newborns in all regions of Bangladesh, 

  • decreased financial pressure on hospitals and families.

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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Infants
  • Rural
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 3. Good Health and Well-Being
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Bangladesh
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Bangladesh
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

We have currently finished our latest prototype and are soon planning on piloting our incubators. According to Unicef 2017, 7 newborns die in Bangladesh every hour. We aim to create an impact on this number by supplying our low cost incubators to different hospitals in the rural regions. The total number of hospitals in Bangladesh is 5,816 but the majority of these hospitals situated in the rural regions are not equipped with working incubators. Besides targeting under equipped hospitals, we also intend to target the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar. There are 1.1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh currently with nearly 100,000 births in the last 24 months. Our transportable incubators can help support numerous medical centers in the refugee camps. In the first year we aim to reduce 5% of the total deaths in Bangladesh thereby saving 3024 lives. 

Within five years, we aim to reduce 1/3rd of the preventable deaths in Bangladesh, thereby saving 20,158 lives each year. When successfully implemented in these regions, we also aim to roll out the incubators in different war and refugee zones in the world such as Libya and Yemen where neonatal care cannot be a major priority due to lack of resources. Alongside, our solution can also serve underdeveloped countries which are not doing very well in achieving MDGs and SDGs such as Indonesia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali etc.

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What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?

Our overall goal is to minimize neonatal mortality nationwide  by introducing readily available neonatal intensive care. Within the next year we hope to launch our product in 5% of hospitals and rural communities in Bangladesh helping 3024 infants, since our prototype is ready. 

Within the next five years, we aim to roll out to 1/3rd of these facilities, as well as enter other countries saving approximately 20,158 newborns each year in Bangladesh alone.

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What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

Proving the technology in the field as medical devices require very rigorous testing before commercialization can begin. Alongside this support and acceptance within the medical community is highly needed to accomplish our future goals. Access to financing for manufacturing on a large scale, expertise and guidance is needed for successful scaling of the model.

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How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

We have developed our solution in line to meet industry standards. We have made the design of our incubator as close to existing models in the market, so that acceptance within the medical community will be prompt and positive and have collaborated with doctors in the design development.

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

Our solution team consists of 6 part time staff and one full time staff who are all willing to make a change in the world. They include graduates from various backgrounds of computer science engineering, mechanical engineering who are all led by a qualified doctor who share the same vision of creating a positive impact in the world.

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How many years have you worked on your solution?

2.5 years.

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Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

The experience of the team and the drive of the team to save more lives is extraordinary. Our members have degrees from different sectors consisting of two members with a doctor of medicine degree, four members with engineering and electronics degrees and also one member with a degree in marketing. A team of this caliber and skill set that believes so deeply on the goals and what Bioforge Health stands for. Our team works with a passion that none can compare to. Driven by the collective goal and what Bioforge stands for, this team never hesitates to come forward and give their everything to find solutions to help save more lives. Even in the pandemic, team members are contributing to help in the pandemic, doing so without rest around the clock.

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What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

None at the moment.

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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

We have spent more than two and half years building upon the concept of an easy to assemble and transportable incubator and have researched the market and discussed the project with a myriad of advisors and consultants. We successfully built and tested our technology and built our prototypes in-house and in collaboration with numerous experts. There is a vast demand for incubators in Bangladesh. We aim to follow a combination of modern and traditional business models with direct sales, franchising and internet retails. We are also planning on adding premium features to our incubators for supplying in hospitals looking for premium features. Pricing will be dependent on the features with the basic model costed to cover manufacturing costs.

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Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?

Organizations (B2B)

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What is your path to financial sustainability?

Bioforge as a company continues to create constant innovative solutions and also inexpensive solutions that will sell more and save more lives. We also have a plan to sell two versions of the incubator and launch premium incubators for  hospitals looking for premium features that are not a must have but definitely add value and improve doctors diagnosis and treatment. But our main version is an inexpensive incubator which will benefit hospitals that are in need of neonatal ICU. We aim to break even on the low cost model and take small margins from our premium models. The basic incubator in this solution might even be made open source or sold at cost (i.e. no profit). Our files might also be posted in Github for makers to be able to build this incubator and contribute to the hospitals near them and save more lives. One option that we are also open to take donations from general people, philanthropists and other organizations.

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If you have raised funds for your solution or are generating revenue, please provide details.

The founder of Bioforge, Dr. Dewan Choudhury Raphael is a physics teacher. He has managed to create a brand with his name, “Raphael Teaches”. This for now, has been generating enough revenue to sustain Bioforge Health.

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If you seek to raise funds for your solution, please provide details.

We have different strategic plans to raise funds including crowdfunding campaigns, launching merchandise of Bioforge and applying to several competitions or challenges to garner funds.  More funds will definitely help us expand our team and bring in more resources that will help our teams to get to the solutions quicker. Right now even though our innovation rate is good, it has rooms for improvement.

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What are your estimated expenses for 2020?

Due to the pandemic, our planned routes for 2020 are at a halt. But our estimated expenses will be divided on the following:

  • Piloting of the incubators.

  • Wages of Bioforge employees working in the team.

  • Mass production of incubators.

  • Marketing in different hospitals and organizations.

  • Transportation and delivery of the incubators to rural regions.

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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

To seek feedback, networking, out-reach, advises, collaboration, funding, but most of all an invaluable knowledge/feedback from those with experience in this sector and a strong network so we can save more lives in the days to come.

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Funding and revenue model
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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion?

Yes

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion to advance your solution?

There are approximately 1.1 million Rohingya-Refugees in Bangladesh who have been arriving since 2015. Around 100,000 births occurred in the past 24 months, and only 1 in 5 of the births took place in medical facilities. 11% of all neonates are in need of critical-care. Our low-cost, modular incubators can help support medical centers in the refugee-camps. They have been specifically designed and developed for resource-stricken areas, and deliver required medical functionalities at a fraction of the cost.

Before these incubators can be deployed however, they need to undergo extensive preclinical trials to meet regulatory and governmental standards in Bangladesh. An estimated $20,000 will be spent in this phase. Once approved, an estimated $30,000 will be required to bring manufacturing in-house. 20 incubators costing $18,000, will then be deployed to prove the concept. Partnering with organizations in the camp to conduct training for operation and maintenance will cost an estimated $15,000. A further $15,000 will be needed to collect field data and monitor device performance through these organizations for the first year, and build awareness among potential clients and future partners. The current operational costs, salaries and prototyping will not be covered within this fund since they are already planned.

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize?

No

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Health Workforce Innovation Prize?

No

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the AI for Humanity Prize?

No

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Funded Award?

Yes

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Explain how you are qualified for this award. How will your team use the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Funded Award to advance your solution?

Bangladesh is a low income country which has since 2015 has been at the receiving end of the influx of refugees. Bioforge shares this vision and aims to reduce the neonatal death rate in rural area communities, refugee camps and other resource stricken areas.The low cost, robust and modular design of our incubator will help to improve the state of healthcare in these localities. Our model is designed to be distributed easily, requiring minimal skills to set up, operate and maintain. Additionally, it will help decrease the overhead cost and the financial burden on both the system and the families.

However, to implement this successfully, partnerships are crucial to reach regions with poor access to healthcare and reduce the disparity in neonatal deaths. Partnering with the ministries of Bangladesh who tackle neonatal healthcare and Unicef, we plan on collaboration by supplementing SCANUs with our incubators, utilizing their established infrastructure. With the funded award, we aim to deploy enough incubators to reduce 5% of the total deaths in Bangladesh in the first year, thereby saving 3024 lives. Within five years, we aim to reduce 1/3rd of the preventable neonatal deaths in Bangladesh, thereby saving 20,158 lives each year.

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Future Planet Capital Prize?

No

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Solution Team

 
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