Project Details

MOM being demonstrated to African doctors and nurses.


The inexpensive inflatable incubator

By MOM incubators

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @momincubators

  • Health
  • Physical Computing

Every year, 1 in 10 babies are born prematurely, and close to 1 million do not survive their first few vulnerable months in intensive care.

In the developing world premature babies face a particularly difficult fight as the technology to properly care for them is expensive and often not available. Infant mortality is even more prevalent in conflict zones, as the stresses of war and forced migration mean a rise in women giving birth before term.

23-year-old design engineer James Roberts was moved to action when he learnt of the problem from a BBC Panorama feature on war-torn Syria. James devoted his final year at Loughborough University to developing MOM – a portable, inflatable and electronically regulated incubator.

MOM is cheap, collapsible and ideal for makeshift and underdeveloped hospitals. The incubator runs on very little power and can use solar energy and car batteries when mains power is unavailable. Even with its simple design, MOM meets British incubation standards and provides the same level of care as full-sized hospital incubators, with a unit price of £250 compared to the £30,000 industry norm.

MOM has been well received: it won the prestigious James Dyson Award for innovation in 2014, and response for a prototype tested in Uganda was overwhelmingly positive, with one mother asking if she could take MOM home with her. Now James is seeking funding for clinical trials and is working on a backup battery for the incubator.

The WHO estimates that 75% of premature babies could be saved with access to incubation – and James is determined to give them that access. To support MOM and follow the latest updates on funding visit

Image courtesy of MOM.

Last updated: 26th of June, 2015

Cookies on the Social Tech Guide

Social Tech Guide uses cookies to provide you with an enhanced user experience. To remove this message, please click continue.

Continue Learn more