How this tech startup drew the attention of Gavi, Gates and Google

A health worker looks inside a vaccine refrigerator, monitored using the Nexleaf Analytics ColdTrace wireless remote temperature technology. Photo by: Nexleaf Analytics

Google.org has announced a new partnership to support Nexleaf Analytics, a Los Angeles-based startup that builds wireless sensors turning everyday objects like refrigerators and cookstoves into connected devices.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is matching a $2 million contribution from Google.org in a collaboration resulting from INFUSE, an accelerator launched by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to identify innovations that can modernize the way vaccines are delivered.

Nexleaf builds wireless sensor devices and data analytics tools such as ColdTrace, a wireless remote temperature monitoring technology that protects vaccines, and StoveTrace, a cloud based remote monitoring system that monitors the use of improved cookstoves. With funding from this new partnership, Nexleaf will now develop an analytics framework, gathering data from the countries its technology reaches, in order to share data with other governments looking to make evidence-based decisions regarding vaccine delivery.

“We focus on: How do you get vaccines safely to kids, stored at the right temperatures, fixing problems with refrigerators along the way?” Nithya Ramanathan, president and co-founder of Nexleaf, told Devex. “Everybody brings their piece of the puzzle and what we bring is data.”

Before scaling its work on refrigerators and cookstoves, Nexleaf started collecting data on refrigerators one clinic at a time, and data on cookstoves one household at a time. But just like nurses need to know when a fridge is too hot or too cold for vaccines, governments can also benefit from this information, which can inform decisions on…

What will be the first blockchain applications for pharma and healthcare?

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While many possible uses for the blockchain in healthcare are still years away, the potential applications of it that would directly affect patients seem to be closer than previously thought. For instance, a patient-centered database on the blockchain could be successfully implemented in less than two years.

That was one of the main ideas to come out of the first Pharma Blockchain Bootcamp held in November by DisruptiveRx, a group that organizes events focused on innovations in the pharma field. All of the speaker discussions at the daylong conference “looked at patients taking control of their data on the blockchain and using it as ‘leverage’ to manage their healthcare,” said Maria Palombini, managing partner of DisruptiveRx, in a post-conference interview.

“It seems to be that if we can get patient data on the blockchain that pharma manufacturers and the rest of the partners behind them—wholesalers, dispensaries—would fall into it,” she added.

Already pilot applications and studies at the intersection of blockchain technology and patient information are being created. Factom, Inc., a company based in Austin, Texas, received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in November to work on securing the data of patients in developing countries using blockchain technology and guaranteeing the fidelity of patient data through biometric verification.

“Medical records are historically documented on…