Happy Birth Day

Happy Birth Day

Sponsored by

Design a way of ensuring that mothers and children in emerging markets have the greatest chance of survival in pregnancy and birth.

Challenge and scope

This brief asks you to propose design solutions that improve the quality of life for mothers and newborn babies in emerging markets, but more widely, it challenges you to understand more about the environment that these families are exposed to and the limited resources that are available. As such, this brief considers the wider scope of ensuring how the experience of birth and early parenthood can be enhanced by ‘frugal design’.

Frugal design is a term that describes simple, highly ingenious, environmentally sensitive designs that really make a difference to people who have low incomes and few resources, which is why frugal design can be so powerful in emerging markets. For reference, emerging markets are generally defined as countries that have some characteristics of a developed economy but do not meet the standards to be termed a ‘developed market.’

Your response might be a new product, a service, a campaign, educational material, an environment, or even a new method of doing something such as improving safety or monitoring – there are no restrictions on the type of solution as long as the design is based on a real, identified need.

In responding to this brief, you are encouraged to think about a range of questions to research and resolve, including, but not limited to:

Product Measurement

  • How can medicine product packaging and dispensers ensure more effective and accurate dosages? Ensuring an accurate dose of medicine to babies and children is an ongoing issue as parents can underdose or overdose if they don’t know the weight of their child and access to scales is limited. How can the weight of a child be determined simply? How might a product pack improve accurate dispensing in a way that is engaging and easy for everyone to understand?
  • Protect and Prevent
  • How can the risk of infection be reduced in newborn babies (including, for example, through the umbilical cord, which is a key route for infection with a newborn)?
  • How can you ensure that a baby is kept at an appropriate temperature through the first crucial six months in environments where temperature variations are frequent and severe?
  • How can you protect a child from exposure to risks such as mosquitoes?


  • How can the medical centre experience be improved? Medical centres in emerging markets can often be crowded, impersonal, intimidating spaces where mothers and babies have little privacy and often have to wait for hours to be seen. In addition, access to these centres can often mean a long walk from home for patients – are there opportunities for mobilising these?

You are encouraged to be adventurous with your ideas, but you should make sure there’s a real mother and/or newborn need behind your solution. You may want to start by choosing any emerging market country and start there; we are aware that you may be unfamiliar with all emerging markets. You can then begin designing and then check the viability of how your solution could be transferred to other emerging markets.

Most importantly, you are asked to:

  • Identify the real need/s of mothers and newborns (and you are encouraged to think about the role of fathers too!). Research is the key to this brief and if you can identify ‘nuggets’ of information from detailed research these will guide your innovative problem-solving
  • Think about the patient experience and also the healthcare professional’s limitations. Access to professional healthcare is limited in emerging markets and affordability is a real issue
  • Think about distribution. Look at a map of emerging markets (especially sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia) to understand the distances and the fact that there are proportionally few ‘made up’ roads. The ‘last mile’ to the patient is often the most challenging. Solutions need to be robust for transport too!
  • Remember the importance of ‘inclusive design’–think about the mother/the baby/ the healthcare professional (and this includes things like noise/familiarity/trust etc)
  • Explore, challenge yourself and have fun
  • For the purposes of illustration only, the following would all be viable responses:
  • a reliable way to estimate gestational age of a foetus or weight of an infant, when there is no access to an ultrasound or scales
  • educational materials for mothers to understand how to ensure a healthy pregnancy and childbirth, and to recognise and manage infant infections
  • a new way to dispense a medicine (such as a dispersible tablet) to an infant
  • a medical device, app or dispensing product that capitalises on existing lifestyles, and takes into account the fact that the majority of people now have access to mobile phones
  • an innovative approach to give product information on a medicine (e.g. how to give the medicine, what side-effects there may be, when to seek further medical advice etc.) in regions where literacy may be poor
  • novel concepts for delivery of products and healthcare information to patients and healthcare workers in remote regions

...and many others are possible.

GSK particularly advises you to look at the World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines on postnatal care for mothers and babies, as well as additional resources, such as www. everynewborn.org - these can be found in the Toolkit.


There are two awards available for this brief.

RSA Fellows’ Award of £1000Paid placement at GlaxoSmithKline

Remuneration: £3948

Duration: 12 weeks

Location: Hertfordshire

The judging panel may decide on more than one winner and will allocate the awards accordingly. The judging panel may also award commendations.

Sponsored by


Judging criteria

There are six criteria that your entry will be measured against – make sure that your submission materials demonstrate that your solution meets these criteria:

  1. Social and environmental benefit – how does your design benefit society and/or the environment?
  2. Research and insights – how did you investigate this issue? What were your key insights?
  3. Design thinking – how did your research and insights inform your solution? How did you develop, test, iterate and refine your concept? Demonstrate the journey you’ve been through to the end result
  4. Commercial awareness – does your journey make sense from a financial point of view? What is the competitive environment your solution would sit within?
  5. Execution – we are looking for a design that is pleasing and looks and feels well-resolved.
  6. Magic – we are looking for a bit of ‘magic’ – a surprising or lateral design solution that delights

Submission requirements

All entries must be submitted through our online entry system.

As you prepare your submission, please ensure that: 

  • you do NOT include your name, university/ college or other identifying marks anywhere on your submission 
  • none of your submission files exceed 10MB – this is the maximum size for each individual file / board when you submit online 

The submission requirements are: 

  • 1 x A3 PDF Hero image with 1 sentence description A singular ‘poster image’ that conveys the essence of your project, plus a 1 sentence strapline or description 
  • 1 x A3 PDF Big Idea Summary A single A3 PDF page describing your ‘Big Idea’ in less than 250 words. This should clearly explain what your solution is, the specific area of need it addresses, and how you arrived at the solution
  • 4 x A3 PDF Boards Outlining Your Proposal 4 pages describing your proposal and demonstrating that you have met the six judging criteria. Each board should include a heading. Number each board in the top right hand corner, in the order they should be viewed by the judges 
  • 10 x A3 PDF Pages of Supporting Material Up to 10 A3 PDFs of additional material illustrating your development process – this could include scanned pages of your sketchbook or computer modelling/sketches (if applicable) 
  • Optional YouTube / Vimeo + website links Please note that we cannot guarantee supporting films and websites will be viewed at the shortlisting stage. If you have created digital materials, we recommend referencing them (for example by including labelled film stills or website screen grabs) in your 4 main PDF boards 

Eligibility + entry infomation

Download entry guidelinesDownload this brief

18 January 2017

Competition opens for entries

8 Febuary 2017

4pm GMT
£25 early bird deadline

8 March 2017

4pm GMT
£35 final entry deadline

20 March 2017

2-stage judging process begins

1 June 2017

2016/17 winners announced