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.


  • August 2017

    Ethics application to the MUHC

    Alongside new collaborators at the Children's Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), we are currently applying for ethics approval to conduct data acquisition there.

  • 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 and Principal Innovator

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.

Dr. Eyenimi Ndiomu

Clinical Lead

Eyenimi is a medical doctor and holds a Masters in Public Health from the University of London. He is presently a Clinical fellow at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, UK; and has been involved in primary healthcare in Rivers state, Nigeria for over 5 years.

Innocent Udeogu

Software Engineering Lead

Innocent is a software engineer and technology entrepreneur. A graduate of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), he is the CTO and cofounder of Once'n'out and Fisher Foundation Africa. He also contributes to several open source projects

Urbain Kengni

Business Development Lead

Urbain has over 12 years’ experience in: business analysis and strategy (Bombardier Aerospace); management consulting (KPMG LLP, Capital Consulting Group); and electrical engineering (LG Electronics). He presently works as a Senior Value Manager at Workday.


Prof. Doina Precup

Artificial Intelligence

Professor Precup is a Associate Professor of Computer Science and co-director of the Reasoning and Learning Lab at McGill University, Canada.

Prof. Edward Alikor

Paediatric Neurology

Prof. Alikor is a Pediatric Neurologist and Director of Medical Research and Training at University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Dr. Peace Opara


Dr Opara is a Consultant Neonatologist at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria.

Prof. Guilherme Sant'anna


Prof Sant'Anna is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at McGill University and practising Neonatologist at McGill University Health Centre.

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