February 8, 2018    Follow us on Twitter   View our videos on YouTube
SL@B Round 8 Opportunity for Innovators  
On January 10th, Saving Lives at Birth (SL@B) launched our Round 8 Call for Applications, focusing on transitioning to scale groundbreaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in poor, hard-to-reach communities around the time of childbirth.

SL@B seeks to identify and develop transformative approaches that integrate scientific and technological advancements, better service delivery models and improved "demand side" innovations. SL@B also seeks innovations that empower pregnant women and their families to practice healthy behaviors and be aware of and access healthcare during pregnancy, childbirth, and the early postnatal period, especially the first two days after birth. Our focus in Round 8 is on transition to scale, to catalyze the sustainability and impact of innovations with the greatest potential to save the lives of pregnant women and newborns around the world.
What We're Looking For
Saving Lives at Birth seeks to fund interventions that:
  1. Increase demand for and access to primary health interventions for women and newborns.
  2. Improve quality of care as measured by specific health outcomes.
  3. Improve and sustain healthy behaviors, attitudes and practices.

The portfolio of Saving Lives at Birth is diverse and vast. In Round 8, the Partners aim to catalyze scale and sustainability of the most promising innovations. We will fund solutions across the continuum of scale-up as described below. In addition to funding, and to accelerate impact of the innovation, each grantee will receive $25,000-$50,000 worth of tailored scaling support annually. Eligible applications will focus on any of the following areas alone or in combination:

  • Developing, testing and refining scaling plan/business model, including generating evidence of health outcomes or conducting further market research needed to engage partners.
  • Transitioning to scale innovations with promising health impact and developed, sustainable scaling plans. These innovations must have demonstrated strong evidence in a controlled or limited setting of improved health outcome(s) and/or the reduction of significant barrier(s) to health and demand for the solution (i.e. proof of concept). Submissions will have the potential to credibly scale in a sustainable manner beyond the term of Saving Lives at Birth funding to improve the lives of millions of pregnant women and newborns in multiple setting.
Accelerating SL@B
Our Next Generation Acceleration Model
We are also excited to announce the launch of our next generation acceleration model for SL@B innovators. Accelerating SL@B is the next iteration of Saving Lives at Birth's Xcelerator. The program provides tailored support to accelerate the most promising Saving Lives at Birth innovations towards equitable, sustained impact. Led by Duke University and VentureWell, the program leverages Duke's long-term engagement and support model, VentureWell's intensive, high-touch Xcelerator workshops and follow on support, and a network of specialized innovator support organizations to maximize results, foster sustainability, and build strong relationships that result in effective capacity development and impact. Stay tuned for more information about Accelerating SL@B.
VentureWell's excellent Innovator Insights Series focuses on lessons learned by seasoned entrepreneurs, including several SL@B innovators, to help illuminate the path for tomorrow's innovators. Click here to read the third installment in the series about developing a team building strategy (prior installments one and two are also available).
Application Process
SL@B's competitive process is designed specifically to identify potentially groundbreaking ideas that show great promise in the field of maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH). The first step in the Round 8 application process is to submit a brief Expression of Interest (EOI) indicating how it will impact the objectives described above.  If initial review indicates the EOI merits further consideration, selected organizations may be invited to discuss their proposals with the Saving Lives at Birth partners for co-creation and further due diligence. This process may result in applicants being invited to submit concept notes and attend the Development XChange in Washington, DC. Award nominees will be announced following the Development XChange in July 2018.
  • EOI Submission Deadline: February 28, 2018 2:00 p.m. EST.
  • Download a copy of the Addendum [PDF, 321KB].
  • For access to the application portal, please click here.
Don't Miss the SL@B Round 8 Twitter Chat!

When: February 13th, 10AM EST.
Where: Twitter via our handle @GCDSavingLives and hashtags #SLAB and #SavingLivesRd8

On February 13th, Saving Lives at Birth will be hosting a live Twitter chat to provide answers and insights to advocates, stakeholders, and potential innovator applicants about the role of SL@B in catalyzing innovation and accelerating the development of new and improved solutions and the Round 8 Call for Applications. Topics that will be discussed during the 1 hour chat include:  
  • Defining Innovation
    • How are we defining gaps in innovation in global health?
      • Interventions exist but are not always available to #momandbaby who need them. Many missed opportunities around birth could be tackled to improve health outcomes #SLAB
    • What gaps or deficits have previous grantees addressed?
      • From portable biometric scanners to phone-based training simulation, #SLAB has supported 116 unique innovations along the continuum of care.  
  • Innovation in Maternal and Neonatal Health
    • How has innovation changed the face of maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH)?
    • What are the key areas still left to address?
  • SL@B Round 8
    • What makes Round 8 different than previous #SLAB calls for innovation?
    • What makes for a successful SL@B application?
Don't miss this opportunity to interact with Saving Lives at Birth partners and ask your very own questions about how innovators are fighting to address the world's most pressing matters in maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH).
Get the Word Out!
Want to let people know you're engaging with the SL@B Round 8 Call for Applications? Social media is the best vehicle for doing so. Be sure to take a look at our social media toolkit, which provides you with everything you'll need to get the word out via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more!
View our profile on LinkedInLike us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter
Click here to view the SL@B Round 8 Call Social Media Toolkit.
Innovator Q&A
Round 8 focuses on transition to scale ---  a crucial element in achieving many of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Transition to scale funding assists in kickstarting scale and sustainability initiatives, with a proven impact on global health. Read on to learn from our recent interview with two innovators ---  Bempu (India) and Simprints (UK) ---  who have received follow-on funding from Saving Lives at Birth and are now transitioning to scale.

Dan Storisteanu
Co-founder, Simprints

How has Saving Lives at Birth assisted Simprints in achieving its vision?

I would dare to say that Simprints wouldn't exist today without SL@B and that first seed grant. They gambled on us when we were just a few students with an idea, and it became something that we could start working on full-time. From that grant, we were able to co-create this identification system with users.

We found that SL@B really valued evidence-based solutions, and that helped us put their funding toward testing different systems and prototypes in the field. We spent a lot of time travelling in Bangladesh and elsewhere, collecting about 135,000 fingerprints. Coming into that grant, we started with an idea; coming out of it, we had a prototype system that we could go on to continue to commercialize.

What advice do you have for other innovators hoping to bring their projects to fruition and realize their goals?

One of the most important things for us in the beginning was this idea that it's never too early to bring prototypes and ideas to the people who are going to be using them. As soon as we had a tiny bit of money and a fuzzy idea, we went out to Bangladesh and
Simprints Biometric System is a SL@B grantee.
learned so much by talking to the user right from the start. We had so many assumptions that were false; assumptions about how intuitive our systems would be for users in Bangladesh, for example. Through user testing and spending real time in the field, we were able to identify where we had gone wrong and adjust from there. You need to always keep your users in mind, even if you're constantly doing what feels like fire-fighting.

Another thing that's more apparent as we grow is the focus on creating a true company culture. We needed a place that was a fun, safe environment where people could explore radical ideas and feel comfortable doing so. It's something you have to be incredibly thoughtful and proactive about, which isn't something I fully appreciated at first.

One last thing: There will always be a million things you'll want to do. I think the most important thing to understand is what the greatest bottleneck is, and then prioritizing that above all else.
Annika Gage
Public Health and Partnerships Lead, Bempu Health Pvt. Ltd.

What has been the process for transitioning your innovation to scale?
The Bempu Bracelet is a unique product in that we have several different m arket segments across class barriers, and we're seeking to expand our impact across all of them. We are currently in the midst of expanding our reach in India after bein g approved for about 3,000 devices by the government of Rajasthan and have since bee n able to approach about 20 of the Indian states, partially a result of our ability to expand our staff, but also from connections and access to more networks. 

What has been the most rewarding part of your experience working to improve global outcomes for maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH)?

I'll give you one really good example. My colleague Mona and I went to Papua New
Guinea and spent about two weeks in one of the most remote districts of the eastern highlands, where they're really just setting up their health infrastructure. We were with a midwife who runs a clinic for about five different villages by herself, and she's been one of
The newborn temperature monitoring band is a SL@B funded innovation.
Photo: Share America
the fiercest advocates for our bracelet there in that region. There was a family who came in with a sick infant and she gave them the bracelet ---  they left after the infant
had stabilized.

At the weekly follow-up, they came back and said that the funniest thing had happened ---  the grandfather had started doing kangaroo mothercare. In that region, it's pretty uncommon for men to be caring for the infant. For me, that was a really powerful moment ---  when your device not only changes health outcomes, but can have an impact on some of the darker sides of culture and improve things in those ways, I think that means you're doing good work.

We also just reached a 50% balance of women-to-men in our organization. For a tech company, I think that's pretty amazing.

Click here to read the full interviews.   
Top 10 Pieces of Advice from Alumni Innovators
The journey to scale is a learning experience for every innovator. It is not without its ups and downs; successes and failures often follow one another, especially during early stages. As a partnership, we seek to foster continued learning and innovation among the SL@B community by providing tailored support, networking opportunities, and platforms to engage with other innovators. In doing so, we have found that one of the most valuable resources for our innovators is each other.

Now SL@B alumni are offering up advice to innovators who are just getting off the ground.  
  1. Do not be shy to explain exactly what you need and why to potential funders, partners, and advisors. Catalytic partnerships often begin with an ask.
  2. Innovators must be resilient. Never stop believing in yourself and in your team, especially when you inevitably hit roadblocks.
  3. Clearly define needs and metrics of success up front. Being able to evaluate your innovation's impact is incredibly important.
  4. Expect the unexpected. Be prepared to develop, test, refine, repeat and recognize that innovation is developing a concept or idea in conditions of uncertainty.
  5. Take advantage of the SL@B network. Engage with other innovators, meet with potential mentors/partners, attend and the DevelopmentXChange.
Read the other 5 crucial pieces of advice from SL@B alumni innovators, all of which can help tremendously on the path toward success.
Gates on Pursuing Global Health  Breakthroughs     
Bill Gates at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Photo: J.P. Morgan
At the recent J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, keynote speaker Bill Gates  --- chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation --- explained in detail the business case for pursuing breakthroughs in global health. Gates outlined goals including cutting the number of annual deaths of children under 5 years of age down to 2.5 million in the next 15 years. He called on private sector companies to join the Gates Foundation and its partners in working to pursue global breakthroughs not only for corporate social responsibility but because it makes "good business sense."

"It's really the private sector that has the skills, experience, the capacity to turn discoveries into the viable products," said Gates. "And so that's why this engagement is so critical." Gates reiterated the value of the tools and discoveries that private sector companies are working on and how they can make a huge difference in public health.

The foundation has set an example by partnering with institutions such as universities, biotechnology startups and pharmaceutical companies with the goal of bringing industry and philanthropy together to accelerate progress in global health.

Click here to read more about creating breakthroughs in global health.
Thank You for Your Interest in Round 8
Saving Lives at Birth has catalyzed an inspiring community of practice for non-traditional global health innovators, many of whom are already demonstrating significant impact on the ground and are poised to save roughly 150,000 lives by 2030.

We look forward to receiving your application!
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