Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Three Pioneering Projects Win Coveted Vodafone And mHealth Alliance Wireless Innovation Awards

$650,000 Competition Recognizes Projects with Most Potential to Solve Critical Global Challenges

WALNUT CREEK, CA (April 12, 2011) –The Vodafone Americas Foundation and mHealth Alliance today announced the winners of the third annual Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™ and second annual mHealth Alliance Award. The winning projects include a device to diagnose eye disorders, a wireless system that identifies high-risk pregnancies, and a solar-powered apparatus to monitor patients’ medication and relay the information to their local health workers. The projects will be awarded $650,000 in cash and prizes to further develop their projects for implementation and adoption. Team members from the winning projects will accept their awards together at the Global Philanthropy Forum conference in Redwood City, CA on April 14, 2011.

“It is heartening to see that the caliber of entries continues to grow for the Wireless Innovation Project,” said Peter Barry, President, Vodafone Americas Foundation. “The entries for this year’s competition were very inspiring and extremely competitive.”

This year, nearly 100 Wireless Innovation Project™ applications were received with the potential to help solve critical social issues across a variety of fields including healthcare, education, access, economic development, environment, connectivity and disaster relief. Due to the growing collaboration between Vodafone and the mHealth Alliance, there was a significant increase in mHealth applications compared to last year.

The 2011 Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™ and the mHealth Alliance Award winners are:

First Place Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™:
NETRA ($300,000)
From the MIT Media Lab, NETRA is an inexpensive mobile visual testing tool, which is a clip-on eyepiece for mobile phones that can instantly screen for eye conditions and transmit data to an optometrist, allowing for early treatment of common refractive eye disorders and cataracts. The device exploits emerging high-resolution screens of mobile devices and a software that analyzes the patient interaction. It will lead the way to addressing the most common, treatable visual impairments that, because of a lack of access to technology, disable more than half a billion people worldwide.

Second Place Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™ and
Additional mHealth Alliance Award Winner:
Smart Diaphragm ($200,000 plus $50,000 in mHealth Alliance Award benefits)
From University of California, San Francisco, the Smart Diaphragm is a wireless monitoring and early warning system for high-risk pregnancies that can be cheaply and easily administered by a patient. Around the world, one in ten babies are born prematurely – leading to death and lifelong disabilities, however, pre-term labor is often preventable or can be delayed with early detection and treatment. The Smart Diaphragm detects decreasing levels of collagen in the cervix – an indicator of impending pre-term labor – with results transmitted to a cloud database monitored by physicians.

In addition to the Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™ prize, as the winner of the mHealth Alliance Award, Smart Diaphragm also will receive prizes worth $50,000, including strategic and networking assistance from the mHealth Alliance.

Third Place Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™:
CoolComply ($100,000)
This inter-disciplinary collaboration involves the Massachusetts General Hospital, Innovations in International Health at MIT, and an international NGO, the Global Health Committee. CoolComply is a solar-powered wireless detection system that monitors the doses and the temperature of the medication, relaying readings via wireless to the local healthcare workers to track treatment and intervene when necessary. CoolComply provides patients undergoing treatment for Multiple Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and their caregivers with the proper monitoring to ensure they are meeting the standards for their treatment. The number of MDR-TB cases is growing and, while curable, the treatment is extensive – 18 to 24 months – and complex, involving temperature and time sensitive doses of medicine.

“Our goal with the mHealth Alliance Award is to spur wireless innovation to solve global health challenges, especially in developing countries,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO, United Nations Foundation, which hosts the mHealth Alliance. “Cutting edge technologies like the Smart Diaphragm will be critical if we are to succeed at reducing maternal and child deaths and help meet the Millennium Development Goals.”

Eight finalists representing the fields of education, environment, healthcare, transportation and Internet access were selected from a large and diverse applicant pool to travel to San Francisco to personally present their projects in front of the judges. The other finalists were:

Cellphone-Enabled Tricorder – A compact wireless device to monitor subjects with sleep apnea and infants at risk of SIDS.

mobileVision – A community healthcare worker-centric hardware and software mobile platform to perform low-cost eye exams and check-ups and transmit the results to a remote ophthalmologist or optometrist.

PocketSchool - Enabling and tracking highly interactive learning and training instances through a hybrid (i.e., cellular & wi-fi) ad-hoc mobile learning network designed for the neediest and most remote corners of the world.

TUBE-ing Over Digital Divide – A software system that computes and delivers congestion dependent pricing for mobile Internet access, enabling an extremely affordable wireless data plan where users can leverage low-congestion and low-price time slots.

Wireless Green Patch – A low cost wireless device to monitor the integrity of civil and transportation structures as well as energy efficiency in buildings.

The awards for the Wireless Innovation Project™ and mHealth Alliance Award will be presented at the annual Global Philanthropy Forum conference. The Global Philanthropy Forum, with a mission that complements the goals of both the Vodafone Americas Foundation and the mHealth Alliance, is building a community of donors and social investors committed to international causes and aims to inform, enable and enhance the strategic nature of their work. The Global Philanthropy Forum conference provides an ideal venue for the Wireless Innovation Project winners to receive their awards, providing the opportunity for them to meet people in similar fields and to develop international partnerships and collaborations.

Through its foundations, Vodafone has long recognized that wireless technology has the potential to make the significant impacts in the world – particularly in developing countries. Vodafone Americas Foundation™ launched the Wireless Innovation Project™ in 2008 to foster creativity and fund the most promising innovations with the potential to solve pressing issues around the globe. In addition to the Wireless Innovation Project™, Vodafone and its global network of 27 foundations are helping hundreds of thousands of people around the world lead better, fuller lives through more than $60,000,000 in grants and contributions.

Open to NGOs, universities, nonprofit and mHealth organizations, each year, the Wireless Innovation Project fosters three winners to advance their projects through the next stages of development. Vodafone provides additional – and invaluable – support by integrating the winning projects with the foundation’s vast network of social entrepreneurs, NGO’s and international agencies. Previous award-winning projects have already begun to show impressive results. Last year’s second place winner, FrontlineSMS: Credit, is building an application to enable easy enterprise use of mobile payment systems to bring financial services to the entrepreneurial poor, and will be beta testing software in East Africa this spring.

The expert judges for the competition represent a mix of expertise and backgrounds in the fields of wireless telecommunications, health research, and advocacy. Each judge is a recognized leader in business, government, academia or international development.

The 2011 panel of Judges includes:

Dr. James Kahn, Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco
Richard J. Lynch, Executive Vice President, Verizon
Peters Suh, CEO, Wholesale Applications Community (WAC)
Katrin Verclas, Co-Founder and Editor, MobileActive.org
Jody Ranck, DrPH, Director of Thought Leadership, Policy and Advocacy at the mHealth Alliance/UN Foundation

About the Vodafone Americas Foundation™
Vodafone Americas Foundation™ is part of Vodafone’s global network of foundations. We are affiliated with Vodafone Group Plc, the world's leading mobile telecommunications company, with ownership interests in 30 countries and Partner Markets in more than 40 countries. As of March 2010, Vodafone had approximately 341.1 million proportionate customers worldwide. In the U.S., our foundation directs its philanthropic activities towards the San Francisco Bay and the Metro Denver Areas where most of our employees live and work, and where we strive to make a positive and enduring impact on our communities. The Foundation is driven by a passion for the world around us. We make grants that help people in our communities and around the world lead fuller lives.

About the mHealth Alliance
The mHealth Alliance (mHA) mobilizes innovation to deliver quality health at the furthest reaches of wireless networks and mobile devices. Working with diverse partners, the mHA advances mHealth through research, advocacy, and support for the development of interoperable solutions and sustainable deployment models. The mHA sponsors innovation challenges and conferences, leads cross-sector mHealth initiatives, and hosts HUB (Health UnBound), a global online community for resource sharing and collaborative solution generation. Hosted by the United Nations Foundation, and founded by the UN, Rockefeller, and Vodafone Foundations, the mHA now also includes PEPFAR, HP, and the GSM Association among its founding partners. For more information, visit www.mhealthalliance.org.

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