June 18, 2015
International development nonprofit Thrive Networks and newborn care innovator Embrace today announced that they have agreed to merge. The goal is to increase the reach and impact of solutions to one of global health’s most persistent challenges: the unacceptably high newborn mortality rate in countries around the globe. Thrive Networks and Embrace share the same fundamental approach to global health work, integrating advanced technologies with training and education to support clinicians and the families of vulnerable newborns in low-resource settings.
The merger plans to integrate the Embrace warmer, an innovative device for treating newborns suffering from hypothermia, into the suite of essential, durable medical equipment developed for low-resource settings by Thrive Networks’ Breath of Life program. These technologies include devices treating a range of medical conditions that can threaten newborn lives, including respiratory distress, jaundice, and infections. Both programs provide the devices to hospitals and clinics along with training and support so they are used most effectively.
"As founders, we are very excited about this merger with Thrive Networks. It’s the full package that will allow Embrace to grow its potential,” said Embrace co-founder Jane Chen, who developed the Embrace warmer in a design class at Stanford University and now heads Embrace Innovations, a for-profit social enterprise. “The Embrace warmer addresses one issue that affects newborn deaths, but there are many other solutions needed, and it's critical to think about interventions holistically. It’s just heartbreaking when treatment is not available - and babies continue to die every day from preventable causes as a result. Now, with the Embrace warmer joining the full range of Thrive Networks health interventions and capacity building programs, we will have the chance to help so many more babies - and as such, much more effectively achieve the original mission of Embrace.”
After the merger, Embrace will join Thrive Networks’ health portfolio, which operates programs in nine countries in Asia and Africa and includes school-based deworming and oral health initiatives, in addition to newborn health. The merger will provide Embrace and Thrive Networks the opportunity to strengthen existing program efforts and expand them across additional markets to grow impact where it is most needed, including East and West Africa and India.
All Thrive Networks Breath of Life services and activities will adopt the Embrace brand. This combination of technical innovation and accessible care exemplifies a commitment to bringing the best possible treatment to newborns and peace of mind to their families. Thrive Networks Board Chair, and a senior executive of GE Healthcare, Carrie Eglinton Manner noted that the merger is the fifth undertaken by Thrive Networks in the past two years, and the first with a health sector innovator.
"We see the merger with Embrace as the kind of bold move that’s crucial to saving more newborn lives,” said Eglinton Manner. “Mortality rates in the first 28 days of life remain stubbornly high in many areas, even as under-five deaths overall have been declining steadily. Most of these newborn deaths are preventable. By pooling resources and sharing expertise, we can expand the scale and scope of our existing solutions, and work to develop even more effective tools.”
Long-time Embrace Board members Nancy Heinen, former General Counsel for Apple, Inc., Joe Mandato, Managing Director of De Novo Ventures, and Andrew Butler, Founder and CEO of Design to Matter, Inc., will join Thrive Networks’ Board of Directors. Alejandra Villalobos will continue as Executive Director of Embrace and will additionally serve as Deputy Director for Thrive Health. She will work closely with Luciano Moccia, the International Director of Breath of Life.
The Thrive Networks and Embrace boards of directors have approved the merger and the organizations are awaiting final approval from the Attorney General of the State of California. We expect that the merger will be finalized in early July 2015.