COVID-19 has not only taught us the importance of acting quickly to ‘stop the spread’ but also highlighted the critical role of immunisation in managing the severity and occurrences of viruses.
As vaccine programs roll out across the globe and many countries are still in the grips of the pandemic, handling the supply of each jab has become ever more important.
While COVID-19 has brought immunisation into mainstream conversation, the critical need to maintain the integrity of vaccines is not something new.
In 2018, regional business Clevvi launched a tech innovation that addresses the challenges faced in maintaining the cold chain for stored vaccines.
FridgeBrain uses IoT technology to deliver real time alerts on potential cold chain breach events that could jeopardise the vaccines storage.
In 2017, Fridgebrain were announced Ignite Ideas Fund recipients. We caught up with Co-Founder Brendan McDonald to chat about the progress of this innovative business.
Tell me a little bit about what your business does…
Clevvi uses clever engineering to solve complex problems, add value and streamline business processes. In 2018, we started FridgeBrain, a business that supplies smart vaccine fridges. These fridges use IoT technology to deliver real time alerts on potential cold chain breach events including doors left open and power outage.
What inspired you to start your business?
My business partner and I both have family involved with general practices (GP), so we understood the challenges they faced in maintaining cold chain for vaccines stored on their premises.
In our experience, we found that a GP, pharmacy, or hospital wasn’t even aware that their vaccines had been compromised until they manually checked the fridge in the morning which meant the vaccines were wasted and had to be disposed.
With skills in intelligent automation, digital system design and digital innovation, we saw this challenge as an opportunity to solve this critical issue with Australia’s first IoT enabled smart vaccine fridge.
What milestones have been reached?
We successfully trialled 12 fridges in GP clinics, pharmacies and hospitals in Australia and New Zealand which have prevented two significant breach events.
During a thunderstorm that caused a power outage in Auckland, one of our fridges successfully sent an SMS and email alert to the owner who was able to call into the office and rescue their vaccines.
A GP clinic in Toowoomba was alerted to a power outage to their fridge when a cleaner using a floor polisher ttripped the electrical circuit. The owner was notified and managed to switch the power back on before the vaccines were compromised.
This trial was a huge success. We incorporated the user feedback before releasing the FridgeBrain vaccine fridges to the market.
What achievements are you most proud of to date?
The stability and reliability of our technology. The trial of the 12 fridges helped us to refine and perfect the alerting rules, hardware and network configurations. Almost four years on, our first fridges to market are still performing as planned with very little down time or maintenance required.
What are your business goals over the next 12-24 months?
Our success with the FridgeBrain project has developed our IoT skills allowing us to help other clients integrate IoT monitoring and automation into their businesses. To further enhance our IoT capability, we have recently become an Amazon Web Services select partner giving us access to Amazon’s cloud computing, IoT and machine learning capabilities.
How have you used your Ignite Ideas funding?
We used our funding to trial 12 of our FridgeBrain vaccine fridges in Australia and New Zealand. This was very valuable in helping us to develop a very reliable and stable commercially available smart vaccine fridge.
How has this funding assisted your business to grow and/or create jobs?
The Ignite Ideas Fund enabled us to use our IoT and system automation to diversify our business and offer this to our broader customer base. We are actively recruiting engineers to keep up with our demand.
Why are grants such as the Ignite Ideas Fund important for regional innovators/businesses?
The grant enabled us to take the leap and fast track the commercialisation of our idea. Without the funding, the journey to where we are now would have taken much longer.
Why would you recommend applying for Advance Queensland programs such as the Ignite Ideas Fund?
Confidence. This program helps you to make the decision to ‘give it a go’.
What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs and businesses starting out on their innovation journey?
Get your research right. It is important that the problem you are solving is the problem your customers value. Sometimes just solving a problem isn’t enough.
Learn more about the Ignite Ideas Fund including eligibility and how to apply by visiting the webpage.