Health Security & Pandemics Challenge


SMILE - SMart last-mILE cooling system

User-centered last-mile carrier to minimize vaccine wastage

Team Lead

Kitty C. Liao

Solution Pitch

The Problem

In 2014, 18.4 million children had no basic vaccinations and between 2 and 3 million died of a vaccine-preventable disease each year. Today, excluding Covid-19, the number of unvaccinated children has gone up to 19.9 million. Before Covid-19, WHO reported that globally, 20 to 50 percent of vaccines were spoiled, but in reality, the spoilage was and still is much worse, with one particular remote area reporting an 86 percent spoilage rate. This equates to at least $1 billion wasted every year. In remote Nigeria and Madagascar, there were even spoilage rates of 100 percent in some instances.

A major reason for these issues is that during the last few miles of delivery, vaccines become damaged by temperature fluctuations. Existing last-mile solutions are essentially cool boxes filled with ice packs. They either freeze vaccines or last barely a day when in use; however, last-mile journeys last from a few hours to six days. Health workers carry cool boxes in extreme weather and over difficult terrain on foot, bike, donkey, canoe, or a combination of these, and can make errors that lead to spoilage.

The Solution

SMILE is a patented, smart, last-mile cooling system. SMILE is the only last-mile solution that reduces human error and vaccine spoilage. It is foolproof and freeze-free. SMILE can last for three to six days without power while monitoring and displaying the remaining cool-life. The self-closing door and the air-locking carousel mechanism mean that if health workers forget to close the lid, the temperature will still be maintained.

SMILE will help in last-mile applications for temperature-sensitive products and improve efficiency in critical research and end-to-end cold-chain applications worldwide.

Market Opportunity

The global cold-chain equipment market was estimated at $233.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $340.3 billion in 2025. In a narrower lens, the cooler box market was at $4.6 billion in 2020 and is estimated to be $8.1 billion in 2025.

Dividing this market into three categories—mature markets, middle-income, and low-income countries—helps assert the associated demand across different populations. Product price in mature markets is $2,150, in middle-income areas $1,244, and in low-income areas $1,033. The total addressable market in remote areas is approximately $3.2 billion.

Organization Highlights

  • Kitty Liao is the founder and CEO of Ideabatic, an award-winning social enterprise tackling last-mile vaccine cold chain issues. The SMILE vaccine cooling system she designed and developed has won 15 innovation awards globally.

  • Won the Measurement for Recovery Grant from the National Physical Laboratory and the Engineering X Pandemic Preparedness Grant from Royal Academy of Engineering in 2020.

Partnership Goals

SMILE seeks:

  • Connections to organisations who have a need for SMILE to use and market SMILE. 

  • Marketing and outreach to scale.

  • Expertise in hardware and medical equipment sales.

Solver Team

Organization Type:
Hybrid (For-Profit and Nonprofit)

Cambridge, United Kingdom


Working In:
United Kingdom

Current Employees: 

Solution Website:

Solution Team:

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