The device is designed to detect foetal heartbeat not only to save lives, but also enhance mother-child bond. A meeting of four strangers, four years ago, at a 24-hour Hackathon tech conference in Nairobi, resulted in two things; a strong bond and an innovation called Pregmum that helps in detecting foetal heartbeat.\u00a0 A project between Villgro Kenya Limited and Gearbox produced a team of four namely Bonface Sato, a mechanical and electrical engineer; John Kiragu, a registered nurse; Timothy Kimemia, a system developer; and Linus Wambugu a public health officer. \u201cPregmum is inspired by personal experiences, especially those of Linus and John who worked in health facilities. They noted that Pinard Fetscope, the tool usually used to detect foetal heart rate is subjective,\u201d says Bonface.\u00a0 Repeat test Studies carried out by the two, Bonface adds, shows nurses confessing they sometimes make assumptions of heartbeat count, recording 28 per cent of heartbeat within the expected one minute. Long wait times at clinics made things even worse,\u00a0 especially since nurses have to repeat tests. It is a known fact that high maternal and infant mortality rates in Kenya, especially among the middle-to the low-income population, are worrying. Conclusively, foetal heart rate is the primary and easiest way to ascertain the infant is alive and healthy. So, how exactly does Pregmum work and what makes it different? The device replaces the human ear and watches for a sensor and system that tallies and records the foetal heartbeat. It has the ability to take the mother\u2019s pulse, compare and keep a record of the same. The information is stored, analysed and graphs drawn and stored on the cloud under the users\u2019 profile, making the information accessible anywhere anytime. Although the device is currently in the pilot phase, John says results have been quite impressive. \u201cThe device was used in a joint pilot with the University of Nairobi School of Nursing and we were able to test it for iterations,\u201d he says.\u00a0 Further, Pregmum foetal monitor is a cheap solution for baby monitoring, with a projected retail price of between Sh2,500 - Sh3,500. \u201cThis is a solution for Kenya by Kenyans. Infant mortality stands at 35.198 per 1,000 live births according to United Nations Children\u2019s Fund\u2019s (Unicef) report on Kenya demographics. Pregmum is a solution aimed at empowering the woman to be able to take basic foetal healthcare into her own hands,\u201d says Linus.\u00a0 Business coaching John, a nurse, says Pregmum will also help expectant mothers create a bond with their unborn child as she can always listen to the heartbeat. \u201cWhen individual mothers cannot afford the device, community health workers will do the job as one device can be programmed to keep records of different mothers. The gadget is well equipped with local storage and can upload data to the cloud even from the remotest part of Kenya,\u201d he says.\u00a0 At the beginning, being strangers with one goal, the four struggled with team dynamics. \u201cThe team had no business brains. We were all in technical and health-related fields. We had to go through business coaching with the help of Villgro Kenya, and a one-month business class at Strathmore University organised by Safaricom,\u201d says Linus. For now, they say, their biggest challenge is lack of funds to fabricate and go on to the next phase and finally push the product to the market. \u201cSourcing for investors and government support is quite a long process, thereby slowing down our ability to go to market with the innovation,\u201d he notes. Such challenges in the industry have led to calls by stakeholders for government to support local start-ups. \u201cManufacturing is expensive due to many reasons with the most apparent being high taxes and corruption. Gross Domestic Product on manufacturing has dropped to eight per cent from 11 per cent, which has impacted these areas greatly. The government needs to support local startups, such as this one and protect manufacturing ecosystems from external players. Good policies must also be employed to create a level playing field for small scale manufacturers who are building things that respond to the needs of Kenyans\u201d says Kamau Gachigi, Executive Director of Gearbox.