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RB and Lions Health address air pollution with innovations to save children's lives

Slough, UK, June 21 2016 - An air purifying baby pacifier, lung strengthening musical toy and pollution-trapping paint have been proposed as pioneering solutions that could protect children from the effects of air pollution – the world’s largest environmental health risk .

These conceptual ideas are a result of the RB & Lions Health Innovation Hack in partnership with Save the Children, which was held at Lions Health, part of the International Festival of Creativity in Cannes. This first-of-its kind innovation challenge aimed to identify sustainable solutions to protect children’s lungs in India, where pollution levels are among the worst in the world.

In just 24 hours, three teams – a mix of RB’s R&D and marketing talent plus leading external creatives - developed their product concepts, devised marketing launch plans, and considered how their innovations could be rolled out on an international scale. Their ideas were presented at the Lions Health festival to a panel of industry judges and a live audience.

Winning the judges’ highest accolade, the musical instrument product idea could potentially serve a dual-purpose to encourage a healthy habit; as a toy that strengthens children’s lungs whilst creating social noise around the topic of environmental air pollution.

The baby pacifier idea focuses on changing the future one little breath at a time by featuring a filter to minimise the inhalation of pollutants. Designed to paint a better world, the third innovation idea would comprise a special technology to brush on building walls and buses to absorb particulate matter and therefore improve air quality.

RB, the global leader in consumer health and hygiene, has committed to exploring the shortlisted ideas to determine if they may have the potential for development and launch to market in the future.

Dr Rossa Brugha, a specialist in children’s respiratory disease at Imperial College and Innovation Hack judge, highlights the urgent need to find a solution to this global health issue. “Air pollution impacts us all from the minute we are conceived. It is currently responsible for one in eight of total global deaths – killing 7 million people every year, with children most at risk. Elevated levels and/or long-term exposure mainly affect the respiratory and inflammatory systems, but it can also lead to more serious conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, heart disease and cancer. The product ideas proposed at the RB & Lions Health Innovation Hack could have a genuine positive impact on the health of children, not only in India, but across the globe.”

Dr Sharon James, Senior Vice President R&D, RB said: “All of these products could have a place in the market – they are deeply rooted in consumer insight and have the potential to drive meaningful behavioural change. We are keen to explore the innovations to determine their potential and see what tangible difference we can make in the fight against the effects of air pollution. At RB, we are inspired by a purpose to deliver innovative solutions for healthier lives and happier homes across the globe, and these ideas could help make this a reality.”

Bidisha Pillai, Director of Advocacy, Campaigns and Communication at Save the Children India and fellow judge comments: “As a mother of two and living in Delhi, my family and I experience the pressing threat of air pollution on a daily basis. The RB & Lions Health Innovation Hack represents another opportunity for our partnership with RB to make a real difference to children’s lives. Since 2003, our collaboration has reached over 1.6 million children and we are delighted to be involved in this activity that could help us reach millions more. We are proud to be pioneering the ways in which private sector and NGOs can work together to accelerate change for children.”

Louise Benson, Festival Director at Lions Health comments, “The creativity demonstrated by the RB representatives and external catalysts was exceptional. We are delighted to have hosted the Innovation Hack – the first ever R&D focused event at Lions Health, and we hope it has produced the seeds of some award-winning creations of the future.”

World Health Organisation - http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/air-pollution/en/