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Drones will ease the burden of primary care health centers in rural areas of the Dominican Republic

Apr 1, 2016

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, approved a technical cooperation grant for US$539,980 to establish an innovative transport model for health inputs in rural areas of the Dominican Republic. The new project seeks to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) to improve the response capacity of First Level Health Centers in rural areas where the topography makes access to primary health services difficult. The initiative will be carried out by the business incubator Emprende, through direct collaboration with the technology manufacturer  MATTERNET, which will contribute around US$613,000 in equipment and technology transfer.

The initiative seeks to establish a small UAV network for the distribution of laboratory samples and medicines between rural clinics and hospital labs in the northeastern province of San Juan de la Maguana. The expected results of this operation are:  a greater number of diagnoses and transport of results, ii) an increase of transport of Pap smear tests and thick blood smears for malaria, iii) increased availability of emergency medicines, and iv) the creation of a drone innovation center. In a second phase the project will seek to improve drones’ capacity to transport blood samples for laboratory testing.

In March 2015 MATTERNET, a technology and equipment developer, launched the first drone designed exclusively for transport, called Matternet ONE, with a carrying capacity of 2.2 pounds over distances up to 20 km. Since then it has tested them in different countries, including Haiti, Bhutan and New Guinea with the World Health Organization, the Bhutan Prime Minister, Doctors Without Borders, and other organizations and entities. At present the company is developing transport network pilots in Switzerland and Malawi for sending packages and early HIV diagnosis in infants.

The approved project is the result of an alliance between the Dominican public and private sectors with the participation of the National Health Service (NHS), the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC), the Ministry of Higher Education Science and Technology (MESCYT), the Cybernetic Park of Santo Domingo (CSDP), three universities, and Lionbridge Capital group, SAS.

This is the first project of its kind to be developed in Latin America highlighting the IDB and MIF’s commitment  to test new initiatives for engaging and inspiring the private sector to solve economic development problems in Latin America and the Caribbean.

About MATTERNET

Matternet is a technology start- up based in Palo Alto, California, developer of unmanned autonomous vehicles or UAV Drones. MATTERNET’s vision is the establishment of transport networks by using UAVs to solve socio- economic problems, especially in areas of difficult access. Learn more at mttr.net


About Emprende

Emprende is a Dominican non-profit institution created with the aim of supporting entrepreneurs who have an idea, a project, or a technological and innovative company that is in its formation stage or with little time on the market. Since its creation it aimed to be the first Technology Business Incubator in order to support entrepreneurs in the creation and growth of quality companies that promote the participation of investors. Emprende is strategically located in the Cybernetic Park of Santo Domingo (CSDP) ecosystem, a location that it shares currently with the Technological Institute of the Americas (ITLA), the Network Access Point Caribbean (NAP), among other institutions. Learn more at  www.emprende.org.do

About the MIF

The Multilateral Investment Fund is the innovation lab for the Inter-American Development Bank Group. It conducts high-risk experiments to test new models for engaging and inspiring the private sector to solve economic development problems in Latin America and the Caribbean. The MIF addresses poverty and vulnerability by focusing on emerging businesses and smallholder farmers with the capacity to grow and create economic opportunities. Learn more at www.fomin.org
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