13. Dec 2022

At UNLEASH, youth propose ways to address NCDs and meet global targets

At UNLEASH, youth propose ways to address NCDs and meet global targets

Ana Jiménez
A water bottle that detects blood sugar levels was just one of the creative ideas to emerge from the 2022 Global Innovation Lab.
Dr Anil Kapur (third from right) with Team Hope, winners of the UNLEASH 2022 Most Impactful Solution award.

From Dec 3-10, 1,200 young people from more than 100 countries gathered in Karnataka, India for the 2022 UNLEASH Global Innovation Lab.    

The week-long event at the Mysuru Campus from Infosys sought to grow a network of talented people, experts, and resources to drive innovation around seven tracks linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

WDF supported the track focused on SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being, with a focus on non-communicable diseases. Teams in the NCDs track worked together to address problems like diabetes prevention and care, cervical cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. 

WDF helped shape the NCD challenges that UNLEASH Talents will address, provided guidance throughout the week, and sat on the panel of judges together with other global subject matter experts.  

At the end of the week, participants pitched their solutions to a panel of judges. Top ideas received a valuable prize: funding and support. 

And the winner is … 

The winning team from the NCDs track, Team Hope, developed an early-stage prototype device: a water bottle that uses saliva contact to detect blood sugar levels. This non-invasive, multi-functional device can be used for self-monitoring by diabetic patients, early detection of diabetes in undiagnosed persons, and health data collection and tracking. 

Team Hope took home the ‘Most Impactful Solution’ award at the closing ceremony of the UNLEASH Innovation Lab. The award was presented by Vikrant Shrotriya, Managing Director and Corporate Vice President for Novo Nordisk in India, and Dr Anil Kapur, Board Chairman of the World Diabetes Foundation. 

In comments at the award ceremony, Dr Kapur highlighted the need to communicate more effectively about NCDs. 

“NCDs are non-communicable diseases - but that does not mean we should not communicate about them. In fact, there is a great need to bring awareness about them so let us unleash a massive awareness campaign,” he said. 

Mr. Shrotriya described Team Hope’s solution as “touching an unmet need by providing an easy, portable device for monitoring blood sugar levels.” 

Dr Kapur also praised the many ideas that focused on mothers, children and the first 1,000 days of life.

“I was delighted to see so many teams make pitches about addressing maternal health and gestational diabetes. The action for prevention must begin when life begins and therefore focusing on maternal health and the 1,000 golden days is so very critical.”

Over the next year, Team Home will join UNLEASH Plus, UNLEASH’s incubator program that will support their journey to bring their prototype to life. 

Self-test kits and LED strips

Other good ideas emerged from the intense week as well. Team Heally imagined a way to address Bharatpur, Nepal’s high rate of death from cervical cancer due to late detection. Their solution aims to use PH self-test kits to address the lack of access to information and testing for cervical cancer in Bharatpur.

Team UPLIFT created a prototype to reduce death from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) among refugees. CVDs are the leading cause of death among refugees, and many do not take their medication. The proposed prototype, a weight-sensitive LED strip, would light up to indicate that refugee patients have taken their medication. 

Thankful to be here

Innovation Lab participants met each other for the first time in Mysuru. But in the span of a week, they banded together to ideate new ideas for addressing stubborn global health challenges. 

As Himadri Phulkonwar, a participant in the NCDs track, summarised:

“I’m thankful to be here; I’m exploring and I’m learning, and I’m trusting the process so that we can make a better future for the world.”