Home Tech CEO Weekends: Philips & PowerFree Education Technology Partner To commercialize Wind-Up Fetal Heart Rate Monitor

CEO Weekends: Philips & PowerFree Education Technology Partner To commercialize Wind-Up Fetal Heart Rate Monitor

by Caroline Vutagwa
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Royal Philips ( has partnered with South Africa based not-for-profit organization, PET (PowerFree Education Technology) (, to further develop, test and commercialize a Wind-up Fetal Doppler, a unique power-independent clinical innovation aimed at addressing the high rates of preventable infant mortality across Africa.

The Wind-up Fetal Doppler is a device to count the fetal heart rate while the mother is in labor. A slowing of this fetal heart rate towards the end of a uterine contraction is an important indicator that a fetus is not receiving enough oxygen and may suffer brain damage or die. If this is detected early enough, a midwife or delivering nurse can take the necessary actions to save the child.

The Wind-up Fetal Doppler will be commercialized by the Philips Africa Innovation Hub (, which is the center for developing innovations “in Africa-for Africa” in the areas of healthcare, lighting and healthy living.

Current methods to measure the fetal heart rate are either too expensive, too inaccurate or rely on replaceable batteries or electricity to run; the Wind-up Fetal Doppler is especially designed to empower midwives and delivering nurses to give better care.

“It is very hard to do an accurate measurement with a Pinard-stethoscope, because you need to be able to hear the fetal heart well and count the rate correctly. It is often also uncomfortable for the mother. A Doppler ultrasound fetal heart rate monitor is a good solution, but the current monitors on the market require mains or battery power, and are not robust enough.” states, Anneke Jagau , a midwife working for PET.

Maarten van Herpen, Head of the Philips Africa Innovation Hub, states: “Philips is open to collaborations with key stakeholders, including governments and NGOs, to create impactful innovations that matter to people and address the key challenges that confront society. PET has invested many years in the development of this important idea. I am honored that PET has chosen Philips as the company that is best positioned to commercialize it and make it available across Africa”.

Dr Francois Bonnici, Director of PET and Director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the University of Cape Town said: “We chose to work with Philips because of a strong alignment on the mission to improve people’s lives with meaningful innovation. As a market leader in healthcare, Philips will be able to make our innovation available and affordable for frontline health care workers across the African continent.”

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