Jane Marie Chen, co-founder and CEO of Embrace Innovations, describes how her social-enterprise startup’s infant warmer for premature and low-birth-weight babies came into the world. She discusses how passion fuels the drive to overcome setbacks big and small, how Embrace has expanded into retail to support its humanitarian efforts, and explains why we should “choose to see the world through the lens of beauty.”
In the developing world, access to incubators is limited by cost and distance, and millions of premature babies die each year. TED Fellow Jane Chen shows an invention that could keep millions of these infants warm — a design that’s safe, portable, low-cost and life-saving.
Jane Chen is the co-founder and CEO of Embrace, a social enterprise startup that aims to help the 20 million premature and low-birth-weight babies born every year, through a low-cost infant warmer. The Embrace infant warmer costs about 1% of a traditional incubator and is estimated to have helped over 200,000 babies to date. Most recently, Embrace Innovations launched a new line of baby products for the US market called Little Lotus Baby, which uses NASA inspired technology to keep babies at the perfect temperature so they can sleep better. They are using a Tom’s shoes model: for every product sold, a baby is helped in a developing country by the Embrace infant warmer.
Prior to Embrace, Chen worked with nonprofit organizations on healthcare issues in developing countries. She spent several years as the Program Director of a startup HIV/AIDS nonprofit in China (Chi Heng Foundation) and worked for the Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative in Tanzania. She also worked at Monitor Group as a management consultant, advising Fortune 500 companies.
Chen has been a TED Speaker and was selected as one of Forbes’ Impact 30 in 2011. She has been recognized as the Inspirational Young Alumni of the Year by Pomona College and was featured in Stanford’s “Tradition of Innovation.” Chen speaks at various international conferences, including the Skoll World Forum. In 2012, Chen was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and was featured in Dove’s “Real Role Models” campaign for women and girls. Chen is a TED India Fellow, TED Senior Fellow, Echoing Green Fellow, and Rainer Arnhold Fellow. In 2013, Chen and the other co-founders of Embrace were awarded the prestigious Economist Innovation Award, under the category of Social and Economic Innovation. In the same year, Chen and her co-founder were also recognized as Schwab Social Entrepreneurs of the Year by the World Economic Forum.