Giving hope to newborns!

Ubenwa is saving newborn lives by enabling quick and cost-effective diagnosis of birth asphyxia from infant cry.

  • Ubenwa App screenshots
  • Ubenwa App screenshots
  • Ubenwa App screenshots
  • Ubenwa App screenshots
  • Ubenwa App screenshots
  • Ubenwa App screenshots
  • Ubenwa App screenshots
  • Ubenwa App screenshots
  • Ubenwa App screenshots
  • Ubenwa App screenshots
  • Ubenwa App screenshots
  • Ubenwa App screenshots


The Challenge

Birth Asphyxia is one of the top 3 causes of infant mortality in the world, causing the death of about 1.2 million infants and severe life-long disabilities (such as cerebral palsy, deafness, and paralysis) to an equal number annually. "If newborns who have asphyxia can be detected early enough, we may be able to save their lives" - UN.

What we are doing

We are developing a machine learning system that can take as input the infant cry, analyse the amplitude and frequency patterns in the cry, to provide instant diagnosis of birth asphyxia. The test results from our diagnostic software have shown a Sensitivity of over 86% and Specificity of 89%.

What we have achieved

For testing, our algorithm has been deployed as a mobile app which harnesses the processing capabilities of smartphones to provide near-instantaneous assessment of whether or not a newborn has or is at risk of asphyxia. Ubenwa is non-invasive and can be over 95% cheaper than existing clinical alternative.


  • January 2019

    A Review of 2018

    A blog post reflecting on the team's challenges and accomplishments of 2018, and providing a window into what is to come in 2019.

  • June 2017

    Exhibition at United Nations AI for Good Summit

    We participated as exhibitors at the first United Nations AI for Good Summit in Geneva. Ubenwa was represented by our lead clinician - Dr Ndiomu.

  • June 2017

    Ubenwa in the AI XPrize

    Ubenwa has been selected as one of 141 teams from around the world to compete in the IBM AI XPrize. The AI XPrize is a $5million contest aiming to reward teams applying AI to address grand challenges.

  • December 2016

    Mentorship at District 3

    Ubenwa has been accepted into the startup mentorship program at District 3. District 3 is a leading startup accelerator based in Montreal, Canada.

  • August 2015

    Secured Ethical Approval to Conduct Clinical Trials

    In conjunction with our partners, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), we have formally obtained ethical approval to carry out clinical trials of Ubenwa over a period of 8 months. Project will be carried out at Obio Cottage Hospital, the largest maternity centre in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

  • October 2014

    Talks delivered at Silicon Valley and Lausanne

    Charles presented early work on Ubenwa at the Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) in Silicon Valley, USA and at UNESCO's Technology for development (Tech4Dev) conference in Lausanne, Switzerland.

  • 2012-2014

    Initial research and pilot testing

    We began technical validation to connect newborns cry and Perinatal Asphyxia. During this period, we sought for sample data and iterated on several algorithms for predicting Asphyxia. The result was a unique algorithm.

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The Team

Charles C. Onu

Founder & AI Research Lead

Charles carries out research at the intersection of artificial intelligence and biomedical engineering in the Reasoning and Learning Lab at McGill University. Prior to joining the lab, he worked as a software engineer for 3 years at CypherCrescent.

Jon Lebensold

Strategy Lead

Jon has a background in the arts and computer science. He co-founded and co-ran Paradem Consulting for 5 years building it into a successful software and cloud services consulting company.

Dr. Peace Opara

Clinical Development Lead

Peace is a Consultant Neonatologist at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria. She is a key member of the neonatal resuscitation committee of the paediatrics association of Nigeria.

Innocent Udeogu

Software Engineering Lead

Innocent is a software engineer and technology entrepreneur. A graduate of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST Africa), he currently leads data science training at Coven Works


Prof. Doina Precup

Artificial Intelligence

Prof. Yoshua Bengio

Artificial Intelligence

Prof. Edward Alikor

Paediatric Neurology

Robert E Kearney

Professor of Biomedical Eng

Urbain Kengni


Gautam Bhattacharya

Machine Learning

Dr. Eyenimi Ndiomu

Clinical Lead

Media Mentions

Contact Us

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