Embrace, Stanford enterprise, wins Index Award

The Embrace Infant Warmer, developed by Stanford students, won the 2011 People’s Choice Award in the Body Category, INDEX Award announced at the awards ceremony in Copenhagen. Index Award is the world’s biggest monetary prize for design, and gave the Stanford-grown start-up a prize of €100,000. Embrace was founded by Jane Chen MBA ’08, computer science graduate Linus Liang M.S. ’09, MS&E graduate Naganand Murty M.S. ’08 and Rahul Panicker Ph.D. ’08.

The design for the project emerged from the Graduate School of Business (GSB) course “Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability,” taught by Profs. Jim Patell and David Beach in conjunction with the Stanford Institute of Design, also known as the ‘d.school.’

The Embrace Infant Warmer uses wax in a small sleeping-bag-like device to provide thermal support for preterm newborns suffering from hypothermia – offering a nonelectrical alternative to the traditional, expensive incubator.

Time Magazine recognized Embrace in 2009 on its list of “Responsibility Pioneers.” The company predicts that “by 2013, by providing affordable and accessible solutions to prevent hypothermia, Embrace will save the lives of roughly 100,000 babies, and prevent lifelong illness in 800,000 babies who would otherwise have grown up sickly.”

Other Index Award winners from around the world included a project to provide free eyeglasses to Mexican children, a re-imagination of urban, social housing and a bike helmet consisting of an inflatable, airbag-like collar.

-- Margaret Rawson