Frontlines of Health



A wearable neonatal vital signs monitor for resource-constrained environments

Team Lead

Sona Shah

Hear the Pitch

The Problem

Nearly 3 million newborns do not survive their first month in low-resource settings, but 80 percent of these deaths could be preventable with the right tools. One important tool is the neonatal monitor. However, gold-star monitors used in high-resource hospitals are prohibitively expensive and inappropriately designed.

The Solution

To create locally appropriate tools, Neopenda designed a neonatal vital signs monitor specifically for low-resource settings, where continuous power and wireless connectivity may not be available. The wearable device integrates continuous monitoring of pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen saturation, and temperature, and collects continuous sensor data at the point of care.

The device wirelessly sends vital signs data from multiple infants to a single tablet. On the tablet, nurses can view the health status of all patients in real time, access health statistics and historical data, and receive alerts if patient vital signs go outside a healthy range.

Market Opportunity

  • Most commercially available medical devices fail to meet the unique constraints of 85 percent of the world’s population in emerging markets. 
  • In Africa alone, this presents a US $7.1 billion market opportunity that’s growing nearly four times faster than in the US. 
  • Within only three patient populations, there’s a US $715 million market opportunity in emerging markets: neonatal, pediatric, and community health workers.

Organization Highlights

  • Vital signs monitor is currently patent pending
  • Awards: Hello Tomorrow Top 500 Deep Tech Startup; Outstanding IoT Project Award, Computing Big Data Awards 2018; Finalist, 2018 Women Startup Challenge: Emerging Tech
  • Media:  Global Citizen, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc, Disrupt Africa

Existing Partnerships

Neopenda currently partners with a variety of organizations, such as:

  • Private hospitals in Kampala, Uganda
  • IEEE SIGHT for stakeholder and product development research
  • Americares for grant applications, as a future piloting partner in Liberia and Tanzania, and as a potential customer
  • Ciklum R&D for technology development
  • Funders: Vodafone Americas Foundation, Cisco, and seed investor ADAP Capital

Organization Goals

Neopenda seeks to achieve the following goals:

  • Create needs-based healthcare solutions for high-growth emerging markets
  • Launch product sales in 2019
  • Expand suite of products and communities served
  • Improve quality of care for millions of people

Partnership Goals

To reach these goals, Neopenda seeks partnerships to:

  • Better develop pilot studies and clinical trials to collect and analyze appropriate data
  • Secure funders for clinical studies and scale-up
  • Refine go-to-market strategy: first to private facilities, then to public facilities through the government
  • Build out data strategy to better understand which data is valuable to customers, how to aggregate and analyze the data, and how to monetize it


Neopenda has the potential to improve the quality of care for 45 million newborns in developing countries each year.

Solver Team

Organization Type:

Chicago, IL, USA


Working in:
Uganda, Côte D’Ivoire, Tanzania



Solution Team:

  • Sona Shah CEO and Co-Founder, Neopenda


A Neonatal Vital Signs Monitor

Solver Neopenda received the $30,000 UN Women She Innovates Prize for Gender-Responsive Innovation from Members Citi and SAP Next-Gen in 2018 to further develop a wearable neonatal vital signs monitor for resource-constrained environments.


A Neonatal Vital Signs Monitor

Solver Neopenda, which created a wearable neonatal vital signs monitor for resource-constrained environments, received a $10,000 grant from Solve in 2018 for being selected as a Frontlines of Health Solver.

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