Smart Technology Changing The Way Vaccines Are Stored

Nexleaf Analytics is a 2015 Tech Awards laureate in the Sutter Health category. It will be honored with the other laureates at The Tech Awards gala in November.

The problem: How to make sure vaccines stay in appropriate temperatures
The solution: ColdTrace, a remote, cell-phone-based temperature monitoring system for vaccine refrigerators
Region of impact: Global
Home base: Los Angeles

Following is a Q&A with Nithya Ramanathan, Co-founder and President of Nexleaf Analytics. It has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you first decide to tackle the problem?

We have an obligation to ensure that every child on earth is vaccinated against preventable diseases. However, an unknown number of vaccine doses spoil before they ever reach kids. In some countries it’s estimated that as many as 30% of vaccine vials are exposed to dangerous hot or cold temperatures before they’re administered. We saw the potential for simple sensor technology to address the problem of vaccine spoilage directly as well as to collect the data needed to shed light on the causes of vaccine delivery equipment failure. That’s why we created ColdTrace.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?

First, field test, field test, field test! Nothing in our lab in the United States can truly simulate the conditions on the ground in the environments where our technology is meant to function. Second, know when to say no. Associates often ask tech start-ups to add all kinds of specific features, and trying to accommodate every request can throw the technology development off track.

What does being a Tech Awards laureate mean to you?

We are extremely honored. We hope that this prestigious award can translate into greater interest in and support for our platform, and that this will ultimately result in more children around the world receiving viable vaccines and staying healthy.

This year marks the 15th annual gala of The Tech Awards, often referred to as the Oscars of Silicon Valley. It will take place Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, where 10 laureates, a Global Humanitarian, and a Laureate Impact Award winner will be honored for their work using technology to benefit humanity.

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