Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development Announces 15 Award Winners of Seventh Annual DevelopmentXChange

The annual Saving Lives at Birth (SL@B) DevelopmentXChange challenges global problem-solvers to develop and scale transformational solutions to improve maternal and newborn survival in poor, hard-to-reach communities around the world.

Fifty-three of the brightest innovators from across the globe were invited to Washington, D.C. to present their groundbreaking innovations. These 53 finalists were selected from an extremely competitive pool of over 550 applications, with roughly half of the applications coming from low and middle-income countries.

After a rigorous review process and fierce competition, 15 of the world’s most promising ideas to drastically reduce maternal and newborn mortality in developing countries edged out over 550 other applicants, securing millions in new funding to develop and refine their innovations.

The announcement was made on July 27th, at the seventh annual DevelopmentXChange—the program’s signature event that brings together a community of global entrepreneurs to connect with each other, form new partnerships, and meet technical advisors to that can help them find ways to make an even greater impact.

From an on-site chlorine generator that prevents infection to a breakthrough fingerprint scanning technology for newborn prints, the Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development Partnership will invest more than $7.3 million in groundbreaking innovations to protect and support mothers and newborns throughout pregnancy, with a particular emphasis on the 48-hour window around the time of delivery when they are most vulnerable.

The two-day DevelopmentXChange included a pitch competition to introduce SL@B innovators to private investors that are interested in funding and partnering with them. Innovators also participated in 1:1 meetings with mentors from multinational and US private sector companies, and leading experts in the fields of behavior change, marketing, distribution, and maternal and newborn health.

At the Center for Health Market Innovations, we are also invested in seeing health markets work to reduce child and maternal mortality. Many of the healthcare innovations profiled in our online database have the potential to drastically improve the health of mothers and babies, but many aren’t meeting their potential because of a lack of financing, poor access to technical expertise, limited support from governments to fund care for the poor, and other barriers. So, we spend a considerable amount of time thinking about how to help them overcome these barriers and make a greater impact.

The CHMI-profiled programs Changamka, Dimagi, D-Tree International, Jacaranda Health, and PharmAccess Foundation are all previous SL@B grantees who are continuing to transform the global health landscape by making life-saving technologies, approaches, and services accessible to women and newborns in low and middle-income countries. But the challenges they face in scaling global health products and services can’t be underestimated.

Our work with innovators from all over the world has taught us a few lessons about what it takes to make a good idea result in better health and well-being of real people. Taking a handful of promising organizations to scale alone is not enough to unlock the potential of a whole industry and impact millions of people. The process of introducing and scaling better products and services in emerging markets can be complex, lengthy, and resource intensive. No one entrepreneur or organization has the breadth of expertise necessary to change a whole system. So, partnerships are essential. Collaborations will make stronger and more sustainable solutions possible.

We’ve also found that there is immense value in peer-to-peer learning. The experiences of innovators (like those that are funded by SL@B and those profiled by CHMI) can produce relevant, practical evidence about what works, and ensuring that it gets shared widely may be one of the biggest contributions the global development community can make. That’s why the CHMI Learning Exchange offers small grants for innovators to travel and learn from one another, sharing key practices (“active ingredients” — that secret sauce) that help organizations reach more people with higher quality and more affordable health services.

By bringing diverse problem-solvers together and helping them connect the dots, partnerships like Saving Lives at Birth enable an inspiring and thriving global community of innovators striving to ensure that no mother or newborn dies during childbirth.


About Saving Lives at Birth

Launched in 2011, the Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development is a global call for groundbreaking, scalable solutions to infant and maternal mortality around the time of birth. The program leverages the collective resources of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada (funded by the Government of Canada), the U.K’s Department for International Development (DFID), and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). 

Saving Lives at Birth aims to address the 303,000 maternal deaths, 2.7 million neonatal deaths, and 2.6 million stillbirths that occur each year around the world. To date, 107 innovative tools and approaches have been funded through the initiative and are already beginning to scale, supporting over 1.5 million women and newborns and saving approximately 10,000 lives.

To learn more about Saving Lives at Birth and its portfolio of innovators working in maternal and newborn health, go to: