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Culture of Experimentation: How Jane Chen Took Her Embrace Warmer Global
Social Change | March 26, 2013

Culture of Experimentation: How Jane Chen Took Her Embrace Warmer Global

"It's not just about saving babies but empowering women to save their children," social change speaker Jane Chen says of her Embrace Infant Warmer. "A mother, no matter how poor, how uneducated, will do absolutely anything to save her baby." In a keynote at Grinnell College (where Chen and Linus Liang were recently honored for their humanitarian efforts), the Embrace co-founder discussed the tremendous impact that her low-cost infant incubator has on people around the world. To date, she says that her incubator has helped over 2,000 premature babies in 8 countries stabilize their body temperature and live healthy lives. Now that the company has the manufacturing infrastructure in place to rapidly produce the product for global distribution—so even more children and mothers can benefit.

Millions of preterm and low birth weight term babies die every year because they are unable to regulate their body temperatures. Some countries have incubators in their hospitals that can keep the babies warm until they can do so on their own. For others, however, Embrace has been a revolutionary product that is saving the lives of children in places where expensive, traditional incubators are not available. "It is our hope," Chen said in her speech, "that through simple, affordable, locally appropriate technologies like Embrace, we can help mothers save their children and help prevent innocent lives from being needlessly lost." In her presentation, she showed video testimonials of mothers and doctors whose lives have been changed thanks to Chen's product. Embrace provides the medical care these babies need while still allowing the mother to be a mother—providing her the ability to care for and save her child's life. In the next five years, Chen hopes to rapidly expand, and her goal is to help 1,000,000 babies.

In a Q&A after her talk, Chen explained the way that she and her team developed the product and its distribution model. It's all about a "culture of experimentation," she says. It's important to try different models and compare and contrast the results in order to find the most effective solution—especially when it comes to developing a new product, like Embrace, that solves a societal problem. In her talks, Chen (who is also a TED Fellow) argues that the most life-changing innovations don't necessarily have to be the most expensive. The biggest impact comes from embracing creative and unique business strategies that keep the needs of the end user in mind—something that Embrace has done to great success.
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