the problem

An estimated 15 million babies are born too early each year globally. This translates to more than 1 in 10 babies. Over 1 million of these children die each year because of complications associated with preterm birth. Many of the survivors are subjected to life threatening illnesses and circumstances making them vulnerable, meaning they face a lifetime of debilitating disability including learning difficulties and problems with their sight and hearing thereafter.

More than 60% of preterm births occur in Africa and South Asia, although preterm birth is truly a global problem. In lower income environments, on average, 12% of babies are born too early compared to that of 9% in more affluent areas of the world. Poor families in remote locations such as Sub Saharan Africa are at the highest risk of losing a child due to complications linked to a premature birth. The country with the highest rates of preterm birth per 100 live births is Malawi of Africa with a staggering 18 per 100 acting as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life.

There is a dramatic difference in the survival rates of premature babies depending on where they are born. For example, more than 90% of extremely preterm babies statistically defined as under 28 weeks of age born in low income countries die within the first few days of life yet less than 10% of babies of this gestation die in higher income environments suggesting that the lack of access to cost effective and vital heath care is to blame.

an introduction

SNUG is an affordable neonatal incubator with a reliable secondary power supply for use in developing countries in response to this issue with the aim of saving the lives of those infants in desperate need of basic and cost effective healthcare. My main objectives that have been driven by primary research obtained through numerous interviews conducted with medical professionals along with humanitarian aid organisations will be to monitor and regulate the infant’s temperature along with offering a means of photo-therapy treatment for the breakdown of excessive unconjugated bilirubin in the blood that often leads to Jaundice in around 80% of all preterm children.

Snug Incubator - design process video

visual feedback

SNUG offers visual feedback to the operator whilst in use via an RGB LED lighting system acting as a considerate alternative to audible feedback as this method will allow the infant to sleep peacefully without the interruption of perpetual beeping. 



SNUG features an intelligent and intuitive human interface allowing anyone to adjust the temperature regulation control without the need for specialist medical training. 


An aircraft grade Aluminium sub-structure enables snug to cope with the harsh environments found in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries.


This image gives perspective to the worldwide prevalence of fatalities linked to premature births by highlighting the areas most affected in orange. Snug aims to bring affordable and simple heath care to those that need it the most. 

Below are some fundraiser concepts to help make SNUG a reality


A special thanks to Kathy Mellor MBE, BSc, RSCN and Birthlink UK for their invaluable insights and guidance on design decisions that have helped to shape the project making SNUG what it is today.

Professor Kamran Tabeshfar for his unrelenting support and selfless contributions.

Professor Edwin Van Teijlingen for his advice on cultural integration.

Franziska Conrad for her guidance and support which has helped to keep the project on track.

Adam Wright for his technical support and knowledge surrounding electronics.

Gary Toms for his ongoing electronics support throughout the year.

Peter Vivian for his help and advice regarding wood work.

All of the staff at Poole Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for their valuable insights and suggestions.

My family and friends for their emotional support and encouragement.

As featured in the London based DEVELOP3D magazine and blog.

Read more here