Incubator Blanket to Save Millions of Babies

 - Jan 5, 2012
Naganand Murty is a co-founder of the Embrace Infant Warmer, a social innovation we featured previously, which aims to save millions of prematurely born babies whose parents cannot afford the costs of a traditional incubator. The social innovation has already received a lot of media attention, and even won first place in McKinsey on Society's video contest.

In the interview below, Naganand shares how the Embrace Infant Warmer idea was conceived with his peers at Stanford University, the business plan competitions they won, and the constant evolution of their social business.

4 Questions with Naganand Murty, Co-Founder of the Embrace Infant Warmer

1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
The idea for the business was conceived at and after a class that we took at Stanford university. The class was called Design for Extreme Affordability and brought together students from diverse disciplines such as engineering, business, design, education etc. In the class, we were posed a challenge of designing an incubator for less than 1% of the cost of traditional incubators.

We decided to seriously pursue the idea of starting a company after we won a couple of business plan competitions that allowed us to continue to pursue R&D on this project. Also we liked working with each other as founders and were united on values and on vision. The idea for the business continues to evolve -- what stays constant is the values and the vision!

2. How did you decide to join this sector?
My inspiration stems from my experience of witnessing first-hand the appalling state of public health facilities across the developing world. I felt a strong urge to make use of my skills to help put a serious dent in this problem.

Up until Embrace, much of my professional work experience was in management consulting to healthcare companies, although I was formally trained as an engineer. As a consultant, I was not satisfied with the impact I was having on the problem, and felt that I could make better headway if I were to help create a product or service company to address big hairy problems in global health. The design class at Stanford provided a perfect means to find like-minded people who resonated with me.

3. How do you get your inspiration?
Every day, we come across stories of selfless caregivers -- doctors, nurses, NGO workers and parents -- who manage to face the most desperate of health adversities with tremendous resourcefulness and courage. These people are the unsung heroes of public health.

Embrace's goal is to assist these caregivers in their quest to deliver better healthcare to their patients. Seeing the product in use, and talking to these caregivers about how we might improve the product, is a limitless source of inspiration.

4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
No specific rituals -- I listen to TED talks and browse through tech blogs and magazines. I try to consume information that is completely unrelated to the problem at hand -- I find it helps me make unexpected mental connections that lead to creative ideas.