Rice University, 2010 - $18,000

Approximately two million babies die each year from acute respiratory infections (ARI), almost all in developing countries. Many neonatal ARI patients in the developing world do not receive proper treatment because hospitals can’t afford ventilators, which cost $6,000 on average.

To combat the problem, this E-Team, calling itself infantAIR, is developing BabyBubbles, a low cost ventilation system for use in developing countries. The device uses a continuous positive airway pressure system, which works by maintaining positive airway pressure during spontaneous breathing, increasing lung volume at the end of exhalation, preventing the collapse of the airway structure, and improving oxygenation. The device helps to keep a baby’s lungs fully inflated so he or she can breathe naturally.

The team is aiming to implement the device in Rwandan hospitals first, followed by worldwide dissemination.

Update: In the summer of 2012, the infantAir team won $2m in funding through the Gates Foundation.