Katherine Hannemann

Where can innovators from all over the world meet to exchange ideas, share their unique innovations, and find inspiration to press on toward their unified goal to protect mothers and newborns during their most vulnerable hours?

Answer: the Saving Lives at Birth DevelopmentXChange.

The third annual Saving Lives at Birth DevelopmentXChange will take place at the end of this month in Washington, DC, and we can’t wait to see what the 2013 finalists will bring to the table. This year, the DevelopmentXChange will welcome 53 finalists who have responded to the request for applications from the Saving Lives at Birth challenge. This challenge seeks ground-breaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in poor and remote communities around the time of delivery: from the start of labour to 72 hours after birth.

The danger that women and newborns face during this time is staggering: every two minutes, a women dies in childbirth, and in sub-Saharan Africa, women are 136 times more likely to die than in developed countries. To lower these numbers presents an immense undertaking, which requires new and inventive approaches to make lasting progress. The Saving Lives at Birth challenge seeks precisely these pioneering ideas that innovate on health science/technology, service delivery, and/or demand.

This year’s 53 finalists have been selected out of hundreds of applications as the most promising – and groundbreaking – concepts to tackle maternal and newborn deaths. On July 29, they head to Washington, DC to present their ideas to each other and to the public. At the Open Marketplace, held the morning of July 31, finalists assemble with alongside their devices, tools, and informative booths – in what turns out to resemble an avant-garde, tricked out science fair. The finalists also present their ideas to an audience as part of the final stage of the Saving Lives at Birth application process. Finally, all applicants gather in anticipation of the announcements of the People’s Choice Award, Peer Choice Award, and nominations of award for funding to continue developing their innovations.

No matter where you are, you too can participate in the DevelopmentXChange. First, check out all 53 finalists on the Saving Lives at Birth website. Here, you can meet innovators from around the world and in all types of organizations, from non-profits, to universities, faith-based organizations, start-up companies, and more. Read about all their innovations and how they plan to mark themselves as game changers in maternal and newborn health. Then, vote on your favourite innovation for the People’s Choice Award, and stay tuned for the results on July 31.

You can keep tabs on the DevelopmentXChange through social media. On Twitter, follow Grand Challenges Canada’s tweets @gchallenges, and the Saving Lives at Birth account at @GCDSavingLives. Watch our Facebook page as well to see snapshots from the Marketplace and award ceremony. Keep up-to-date via the Saving Lives at Birth blog, and don’t forget to check the Saving Lives at Birth innovator page following the DevX for new videos on the selected grantees!

Can’t wait until the end of the week for the DevelopmentXChange action? Check out the 2011 DevelopmentXChange documentary, featuring finalists reporting on their innovations, keynote speeches from Hillary Clinton and Christy Turlington, the announcement of successful grantees, and more. Then we’ll see you at the 2013 DevX – online or in DC!

Grand Challenges Canada, USAID, the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and DFID have joined together to launch Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development, to find the tools and approaches to help mothers and newborns during their most vulnerable hours.