SMART Diaphragm: Two and a Half Years In and Going Strong

Each year about 15 million babies are born prematurely and over one million of these babies die, making preterm birth the leading cause of infant mortality. In developed communities, these premature babies are often given a chance to thrive by spending their first days in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) of hospitals. But in many parts of the world, birth happens in a rural village far away from hospitals and it is impossible for pregnant mothers to make the trip once labor has begun.

Nearly three years ago, our team began tackling the challenge of preterm birth by developing a new type of intravaginal device that enables earlier detection of preterm birth. This “SMART Diaphragm” would use sensors to capture data about a pregnant woman’s cervix over time and transmit that data wirelessly to a cloud platform that would determine whether a woman is likely to give birth preterm. Since then, we have successfully developed more than 10 prototypes of the device and have worked with 20 women in clinical studies who have graciously given us permission to track them throughout pregnancy using our device. More

Bringing Economic Opportunity to the Un-banked: FrontlineSMS:Credit

For citizens of the developed world, the process of transferring, saving and managing money is as simple as visiting one of many bank branches near us or by using a debit card. Making purchases, obtaining loans and establishing credit enable us to purchase a home, start a business or send funds to relatives. In Kenya and many other developing countries, this process is much more difficult.

Without the baseline infrastructure that many of us take for granted, such as an extensive road and highway system or postal service, shipping goods or cash is a risky process. FrontlineSMS:Credit developed our software, PaymentView, for exactly this audience. Leveraging mobile payment systems and existing banking software, we are bringing financial services, including savings, credit, insurance and payroll, to those that traditional banking systems do not reach. Our mission is to effect social change and facilitate transactions in a way that previously wasn’t possible. More

Keeping Tabs on Life-saving Vaccines: NexleafAnalytics Monitors the Medical Supply Chain

Vaccines can play a life-saving role in preventing serious illnesses, including devastating childhood diseases like polio. But if they are not shipped, stored or monitored properly, they can lose potency or spoil altogether. For the developing countries, this challenge is a critical one as the nearly 1 in 5 children that are not vaccinated are concentrated within their borders.

Both government entities, such as national health ministries, and individual medical clinics are realizing just how challenging it is to track and monitor the quality of one of their most important resources: vaccines. For many low-resourced rural clinics, a staff member might have to literally be in the same room as a cold storage unit to see if it’s working or not. NexleafAnalytics has created a temperature-monitoring sensor, called ColdTrace, which remotely alerts personnel if a temperature change threatens the vaccines being stored there. More

Testing the Waters: MoboSens

Water: we’re all made of it, we all need it to survive – yet, more than 3 million people around the word die from water-related diseases every year. How do we solve this problem? Simple: make it entirely accessible for people we call “citizen scientists” to determine whether or not their water, and the water the community around them drinks, is actually drinkable.

Many times in developing areas of the world, access to trained professionals and the complex, high-power technologies they use to identify clean water is difficult to access and deploy. Enter MoboSens. Our product offers a great solution to this problem and eliminates the costs associated with the activities that were previously limited to a select few. With MoboSens, anyone who has access to a cell phone can identify safe drinking water by putting a single droplet onto our nanotechnology censor that plugs into the phone’s audio jack. We really do make it that simple. More

Final Call for Entries: The 5th Annual Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™ Closes at Midnight PST, January 13th

The annual “wireless for good” competition awards $600,000 in cash to advance your innovative designs and ideas

January 8, 2013—Redwood City, CA –The Vodafone Americas Foundation™ today announced its final call for applicants for the annual Wireless Innovation Project™, a competition that identifies and supports wireless-related technologies with high potential to solve critical global issues. Proposals will be accepted through January 13th at Midnight PST and winners will be announced in April at the Global Philanthropy Forum to be held in the Bay Area.

Why apply? Simply, the statistics for success are largely in your favor. Since launching the Wireless Innovation Project™ competition in 2009, every single winner has experienced growth and success for their wireless solution.  More

Avoiding West Nile Disease: The Time of Day Really Matters!

The Wireless Bug-Sensor team at the University of California, Riverside (2012 first place Wireless Innovation Project  Winners) have made an interesting offshoot finding   related to the insect sensors they have developed with  funding from the Vodafone Americas Foundation.  This year’s West Nile virus season in North America is predicted to be particularly bad, with 3,124 cases and 134 deaths reported as of Sept 18, 2012.  There is a plethora of unproven methods to combat West Nile disease: rubbing yourself in Vicks VapoRub, keeping a fabric softener sheet in your pocket, or avoiding (or eating lots of) bananas. More

Last Call for Entries for Vodafone Americas Foundation & mHealth Alliance Wireless Innovation Project 2012

December 31 Deadline Rapidly Approaching for Competition with $650,000 in Cash and Prizes for Wireless and mHealth Solutions

The Vodafone Americas Foundation and mHealth Alliance announced the last call for submissions for the annual Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™ and the mHealth Alliance Award, a competition designed to spark innovation and help solve pressing global issues. Proposals will be accepted through December 31.

“So far, we’ve received very unique and exciting solutions, and we’re encouraged by the caliber of the applicants who have submitted proposals,” said June Sugiyama, Director of the Vodafone Americas Foundation. “This is the next generation of wireless innovation that can make a critical impact for problems facing millions of people around the globe.”

The Vodafone Americas Foundation™ launches the Wireless Innovation Project™ annually with a partnership with the mHealth Alliance. There is over $650,000 worth of prizes for solutions in the fields of education, health, access to communication, economic development, and the environment. Winners will acquire vast recognition as the frontrunners of a national competition. The partnership with the Vodafone Americas Foundation will last for three years following the presentation of the award. More

Last call for applications for the Wireless Innovation Project

Deadline Date of February 1, 2010 to Apply for up to $650,000 in Cash and Prizes for Wireless Projects Demonstrating Promise Of Solving Critical Global Issues and mHealth

The Vodafone Americas Foundation™ announced the last call for nominations for the second annual Wireless Innovation Project™, a competition to identify and reward the most promising advances in wireless related technologies that can be used to solve critical problems around the globe. Proposals will be accepted through February 1, 2010, with the final winners announced on April 19, 2010 at the annual Global Philanthropy Forum in Redwood City, California.

“We’re encouraged by the entries we’ve received to date, and hope to see more come in before the deadline,” said Terry Kramer, President Vodafone Americas Foundation™.  “Last year’s winners produced impressive technologies that now have the potential to make a significant impact in developing countries.”

Vodafone Americas Foundation™ will award a total of $600,000 to the first ($300,000), second ($200,000) and third-prize ($100,000) winners of the Wireless Innovation Project™.  In addition, the mHealth Alliance Award will be given to the project demonstrating the most potential to solve critical health issues, particularly in developing countries. The winner of the mHealth Alliance Award will receive a cash prize and benefits totaling $50,000, including participation in Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society’s Global Social Benefit Incubator Program (GSBI™).  The winner will also receive strategic and networking assistance from the mHealth Alliance, an umbrella group founded by the Rockefeller Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation that supports cross-sector collaboration in delivering healthcare to the furthest reaches of wireless communications. More

Q&A about the Wireless Innovation Project – Dec. 10th

Workshop to Explore the Wireless Innovation Project™ – Grant Program

Sponsored by UCSF Global Health Sciences, UCSF Corporate and Foundation Relations and Vodafone Americas Foundation™

UCSF Mission Bay Campus – Genentech Hall, Byers Auditorium    |    600 16th Street   |   December 10, 2009   |   10:30am PST


The goal of the Workshop is to share the Vodafone Americas Foundation’s Wireless Innovation Project™ (a grant program) with interested applicants (engineers, scientists, technology and healthcare experts) from diverse backgrounds who have innovative wireless technology ideas that can be applied to social purpose. For more information on the project, go to: [site URL] More

Wireless Innovations Saving Lives

Innovative technology has the potential to save lives, and wireless technologies hold a special promise for vexing global problems.  In some resource-limited areas, access to reliable wireless service is among the only infrastructure platforms available.

That’s why the Vodafone Americas Foundation™ was delighted to give away more than $700,000 through our first Wireless Innovation Project™, a competition that identifies and funds unique innovations using wireless related technology offering the best potential to address critical social issues around the world.

Too often promising social innovations languish because they don’t have a platform for effective and efficient delivery.  We designed the competition to encourage cross-disciplinary cooperation within universities and encouraged non-governmental organizations and non-profits to apply. We also wanted to add the private sector rigor to the process of competing—a daunting online application forced teams to challenge academic and theoretical assumptions with real-world data. More