An innovative bracelet manufactured by Bempu Health, a member of the Thomson Reuters Foundation's global pro bono TrustLaw service, has been named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2017. The annual unranked list was drawn up from hundreds of submissions and includes airless tires with 3D-printed treads and sustainable ocean crops that sequester carbon as they grow.
The BEMPU bracelet is designed to protect newborns in countries where access to temperature monitoring is scarce. Based in India, where one third of babies are born at a low birth weight and are at a high risk of neonatal hypothermia and infection, the social enterprise is acting to prevent these threats by providing regular and effective monitoring for mothers without access to hospital care.
The low-cost device detects minor changes in an infant’s temperature and triggers an audio-visual alarm, which alerts parents and caregivers to cold stress or a possible infection. They are powered by a battery that runs throughout the four week neonatal period when babies are most at risk of premature death.
Before launching the bracelet, Bempu Health required legal guidance on how to navigate India’s intellectual property frameworks and protect the original patent before making a public disclosure. They were connected through TrustLaw to Microsoft’s in-house legal team and to the specialist healthcare and intellectual property law firm Ashu Thakur & Associates. The pro bono assistance Bempu Health received allowed for the early commercialisation of its product and facilitated a long term relationship with the lawyers that they worked with. The three companies received the 2016 TrustLaw Innovation Award for their success in patenting the life-saving bracelet.
Nick Glicher, Director of TrustLaw, said “We are thrilled to see that since receiving pro bono assistance through TrustLaw in 2016, Bempu Health has scaled its distribution further and received millions in funding. Congratulations to Bempu Health and the legal teams that supported their mission to radically improve material and child health outcomes around the world. We are delighted that pro bono legal support has been part of the story of their success!”.
Ratul Narain, the founder of Bempu Health, hopes that within 10 years the device will protect around 8 million babies, and prevent neonatal deaths around the world by identifying cases of hypothermia and infection early.
Watch a short video on the partnership between Bempu Health, Microsoft and Ashu Thakur & Associates here.