In Finland, there’s a well-know tradition known as the “Finnish Baby Box.” Since 1938, every pregnant woman in Finland has received a box from the Finnish government that functions as a “starter kit” for their new baby. The box contains clothes, socks, diapers, a bath towel, a thermometer, a picture book, and other baby gear. It’s even lined with a mattress, so it can be used as the child’s first bed. The expectant mother needs to attend a prenatal clinic before her fourth month of pregnancy to receive the box upon the baby’s birth. Now a funding challenge and competition is modernizing the Finnish Baby Box concept with innovative health essentials for newborns and parents.
In late November 2017, Janssen Research & Development and Johnson & Johnson Innovation announced the winners of the Next-Generation Baby Box QuickFire Challenge at Slush 2017, a start-up and technology event held in in Helsinki, Finland. The finalists in the challenge focused on creating “the Baby Box of the future.” The three winning groups were Prapela LLC, CallMidwife.com, and iDE8 Ltd. According to a press release announcing the winners, these three groups have “the highest potential to develop a next-generation solution to promote child health, detect childhood disease earlier, and facilitate healthy parenting.” Prapela LLC is the creator of vibration technology that helps infants breathe, relax and sleep. CallMidwife.com is a web-based and mobile app for pregnant women and parents that enables parents to monitor their pregnancy, diagnose complaints, and access home treatment guidelines. iDE8 Ltd. designers have come up with a single-use, pain-free medical device for detecting elevated glucose and ketones in the urine of babies and toddlers. Winners of the challenge receive up to $350,000 in funding to support the development of their ideas, mentorship from thought leaders and experts in the field, access to tools and resources, and the opportunity to prototype a pilot year project.
A simple box that once contained standard baby gear is now morphing into something much more powerful, and potentially life-altering. Modernizing the Finnish Baby Box with the innovative solutions that won the QuickFire Challenge will give newborns the best possible start in life, and could have a profound positive impact on infant and parent health for generations.