I posted a blog called “Its so cool to be a Reverse Innovator” which I talk about Reverse Innovation – the process by which a company discovers new growth streams by utilizing its natural strengths to develop new products and services in developing countries and transposing it in developed countries with new competitive advantages.
I came across this social health innovation, called Embrace; where students at Stanford worked on a design challenge to create a baby incubator that would cost less than 1% of the price of a traditional, $20,000 incubator.
According to Jane Chen, CEO and Founder of Embrace; about 4 million low-birth weight babies die within the first 28 days of life because their bodies don’t have enough fat to regulate their body temperature. The problem was that traditional incubators are high in cost and require a constant supply of electricity. Many people that live in rural villages in India for instance have low incomes and limited access to electricity.
Chen and her team developed (after much iteration), a miniature sleeping bag that can stays at a constant temperature for up to 6 hours by using an innovative wax-like material with tubes of hot water running through the sleeping bag. With the baby’s natural heat and the wax-like tubes, the sleeping bag is able to maintain a constant temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (or 98 Fahrenheit).
Now, if it costs $20,000 for a traditional incubator, how competitive would this product be if it was sold in developed countries like USA?
Embrace essentially created a new business model what will not necessarily impact the traditional incubator market.
Here is a video explaining the concept and the challenge by Jane Chen: