Tuesday, June 20, 2023
IKIC Impact Ventures, Colruyt Group, Ethias, and Etheclo have joined forces to develop sustainable health carriers for the transportation and storage of temperature-sensitive vaccines and medicines.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 50% of vaccines are lost globally due to unnecessary wastage[i]. The vaccine and medicine supply chain faces a significant challenge in ensuring a controlled cold chain, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where climatic conditions are often extreme and access to reliable energy sources is limited. Significant obstacles in this area also exist in Flanders and other prosperous regions.
IKIC's innovative health carriers are intelligent, robust, and modular. They can sustain the cold chain for extended periods without access to electricity.
"These health carriers are a game-changer for access to vaccines and medicines, providing a solution to key challenges in the cold chain," said Seppe Verdonck, Innovation Manager at IKIC Impact Ventures.
Thanks to an advanced algorithm, healthcare professionals can now accurately determine the cooling capacity required to maintain vaccines and medicines at the correct temperature during transportation to the patient. Moreover, they have real-time access to information about the remaining duration of the cold chain, receiving immediate alerts when products are at risk of deviating from the preset temperature ranges.
IKIC has commissioned the Impact Licensing Initiative(ILI) to negotiate an impact license for state-of-the-art passive cooling technologies and cold chain monitoring with Colruyt Group and Etheclo. It is the application of these technologies that enables the development of the IKIC Health Carriers.
"Impact licensing is a unique lever to deploy ingenious technologies from companies and knowledge institutions in a controlled manner to achieve sustainable development in the global South," said Johan Moyersoen, CEO of Impact Licensing Initiative vzw.
Colruyt Group is making its passive cooling technology available. This technology is used in the daily operations of Collect&Go, the group's online grocery service, for the delivery of chilled products.
"We are very pleased that by making our passive cold chain technology available, we can contribute to this project, and that these health carriers will play an important role in promoting access to medicines in - among others - developing countries. It is a nice interplay for us between our own innovative technology and being an added value to society." said Stefan Goethaert, future CEO of Colruyt Group.
Etheclo provides smart sensors and monitoring software to track the cold chain end-to-end.
Vlaio and Ethias are enabling the development of these sustainable health carriers through their financial contributions, addressing the main challenges in chilled storage and transportation of temperature-sensitive medicines and vaccines. IKIC Impact Ventures' innovative cool boxes can guarantee up to 3 weeks of passive cooling, eliminate the risk of freezing, and allow users to monitor the remaining cold chain at all times.
"Through the VLAIO subsidy, we are accelerating the innovation process and supporting IKIC Impact Ventures in building a large network of partners in Flanders, including investors, technology suppliers, and project partners, with the aim of accelerating the development and implementation of these health carriers," said Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister for Economy and Innovation.
"Ethias stands for ethical insurance with the 'H' emphasizing the humane aspect. In that regard, we are always looking for investments that meet our definition of impact investing, and the investment in IKIC certainly meets the various expectations we have," said Joris Laenen, Chief Investment and Life Officer at Ethias.
In collaboration with various knowledge institutions such as KU Leuven and Stellenbosch University in South Africa, the supply chains of temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products are being mapped out. In addition, product design specifications, go-to-market strategies and business models are being developed. All of this is intended to contribute to better and higher-quality access to medicines and vaccines.
"It probably doesn't surprise you that I personally attach great importance to the use of technology and digital solutions in the transition to a more sustainable society and economy. Innovation is therefore an important pillar within the Flemish development cooperation strategy. I am confident that the impact licensing initiative will prove to be very successful. Global cooperation and sustainable development create a win-win situation," said Jan Jambon, Minister-President of Flanders.
[i] World Health Organization. (2006). Temperature sensitivity of vaccines. World Health Organization. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/69387