Cameron Foundation Impact Prize: Map the System at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
With thanks to Avery Jae for her fantastic interview and video
About the MAP Velocity Program
The MAP17 Velocity Program concluded early this year with a showcase to celebrate the Melbourne Accelerator Program’s (MAP) early-stage entrepreneurs. One of the three prizes given that night was the Cameron Foundation Impact Prize, won by Dr Abbey Eeles, founder of Luna Baby. The prize was a trip to compete in Map the System: a global competition run by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University to learn more about the issues you care about and present your findings to the world.
Dr Eeles shone on that world stage, competing against almost 500 submissions from some of the world’s top business universities to win 2nd place. She was supported by teammate Paul Scanlan who is an alumnus of the Melbourne Business School. This makes it the second year of a MAP founder as a finalist in the competition, with Adam Jahnke Co-Founder & CEO, of Umps Health winning 3rd place from over 400 submissions the year before.
The Inspiration for Luna Baby
Shortly after returning from the competition, we sat down to chat with Dr Abbey Eeles about her background, her motivation, her startup and her experience at the Map the System.
Luna Baby provides educational and therapeutic products for parents of premature or sick newborns that nurture the parent-baby relationship and support wellbeing. Dr Eeles, a researcher by training, embraced the system mapping process to uncover further potential for impact in her field.
Dr Eeles is a neonatal occupational therapist who specialised in paediatrics and neonatal developmental therapy for the past 11 years. She has an undergrad in occupational therapy and a PhD in paediatrics from the University of Melbourne. By her 4th year of study she “was ready to start learning” to take action and really make a difference in her field. This led her to join a research group called ‘The Victorian Infant Brain Study’, and sparked an interest in the specifics of parent-child relationships and premature infants.
When asked what motivates her to work on Luna Baby, Dr Eeles replied, “I’m super excited by the neuroplasticity of the brain… to know that the way we provide care, the way we interact and engage with little people makes a difference.” Dr Eeles thrives in a clinical setting and working with parents of preterm babies. She sees first hand how empowered parents become once they understand how they can contribute to and support their preterm child’s development, while also taking care of their own mental health. With this unique experience in her problem area, Dr Eeles’ was perfectly suited to start Luna Baby.
Experiencing Map the System
As Dr Abbey Eeles travelled to the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, she was in new territory and the pressure of the competition became reality.
“Preparing for a 10-minute presentation was terrifying,” said Dr Eeles.
“From remembering a 3-minute pitch at the MAP Velocity Showcase to a 10-minute presentation… forget superhuman strength, this is a superpower everyone needs. Initially I had decided that I wouldn’t write a script, which I had done for the Velocity showcase… at the practice run… I was still talking at 13 minutes,” reflected Dr Eeles.
This was the beginning of a holistic learning experience for the MAP17 Velocity founder. In between judging panels, Dr Eeles attended a workshop by thought leader in systems-thinking and social impact education, Dr Daniela Papi-Thornton, and a traditional college dinner in the historic halls of Oxford University. Dr Eeles and Scanlan rose to the occasion at each stage of the competition (and sent some fantastic behind the scenes photos along the way). Dr Eeles returned to share the experience with John Cameron of the Cameron Foundation, who’s support as MAP’s Impact Partner made it all possible.
We asked Dr Eeles what she’d like to achieve with Luna Baby by the end of the year. She told us she was looking into “using technology for a device to support parent-infant attachment in neonatal care.” In order to help fund that process and bringing this device to market, Dr Eeles hopes to be successful with an R&D or commercial grant.
Embracing Complex Systems at MAP
Throughout the MAP Velocity Program, entrepreneurs are encouraged to take a deeper look at the social issues they care about, no matter if they’re commercial or impact in focus. We’ve seen, particularly in the second generation of MAP Velocity Program, founders being influenced by the process and pivoting their businesses as a result.
Incredible potential for change lies at the intersection of business, social impact and technology. At MAP, we feel it is essential that founders use system-mapping framework to better understand and navigate the complexity of their chosen problem to really add value in the solutions they design. The framework was used in 2016, when we started working with impact entrepreneurs and as Dr Eeles reflected, “it’s an absolute foundation block.”
MAP’s programs emphasise paying it forward. We encourage our founders to share their knowledge with emerging cohorts. Having experienced the competition the year before, Adam Jahnke played an instrumental role in the judging panel for Dr Eeles’ initial submission and worked closely with her to prepare her presentation at Skoll.
Directors, John and Alison Cameron of the Cameron Foundation support MAP’s work with impact entrepreneurs. Their contribution has also supported Adam Jahnke, CEO & Co-founder of Umps Health (MAP17) and Alexander Jannink CEO and Co-founder of Acusensus (MAP18) in the Startup Accelerator.
The third generation of the MAP Velocity Program is currently underway. You can watch them present at the 2018 MAP Velocity Showcase early next year. Once again, one of the founders stand the chance to win the Cameron Foundation Impact Prize for this amazing experience at Oxford University.