HEALTHCARE INNOVATION
WATCHLIST

These are the businesses Medika has identified as potential game-changers, through their innovative use of new and existing technology. Contributing to, and improving patient outcomes is a key identifier. Follow them and watch them revolutionize digital health.

Zipline: The New Gold Standard for Technology-Based Innovation in Healthcare

Medika Life's Companies to watch in 2021

In Medika’s opinion, Zipline exemplifies how technology can be used in innovative ways to solve real-world problems in healthcare, and their contribution to resolving medicine’s “last mile” problems (the final step in ensuring treatments reach the patient) cannot be overstated. It is also worthwhile noting for new startups, that this company has evolved over a period of ten years to reach this point.

At a glance

Company Name: Zipline
Established: July, 2011
Company Type: Private, Series D, 233 Million USD
Field: Medical Supply and Logistics, Aviation, Robotics
Location: Half Moon Bay, California, USA
Official Website: FlyZipline.com
Vision: Our mission is to provide every human on Earth with instant access to vital medical supplies.

Core Product/Innovation/Service

Every now and then technology meets innovation and the result is a breathtakingly simple and effective product or service. Zipline may just be the best thing to hit healthcare since sliced bread. Fortune magazine calls the company a 21st-century solution to medicine’s “last mile” problem. It can save lives and deliver emergency medical supplies into remote and inaccessible areas. It works, it is currently being used with huge success in Rwanda and it’s starting to gain traction in remote areas near to you.

In a nutshell, Zipline delivers vaccines, blood, and other life-saving medicines into remote areas using drones. It’s the pharmacy version of Amazon taken to the skies in electrically powered small drones capable of operating almost anywhere and in climate or weather. 

The system works as follows. A doctor orders medicine using his phone, from a remote village based, in theory, anywhere. The village is inaccessible by road, but that isn’t a problem for Zipline. They despatch an autonomous drone, programmed with flight paths and local terrain information to the GPS co-ordinates of the doctor’s phone. 

On arrival at the GPS location, the drone descends to deployment height and drops its payload, a capsule or box attached to a small paper parachute. Minutes later the vaccine or medication is in the doctor’s hands and can be administered to the patient. It’s sheer genius and the best implementation of cutting-edge technology being deployed successfully into healthcare we’ve seen. 

Keller Rinaudo, the CEO and co-founder of Zipline explains the process in more detail.

Zipline has been rolled out in Rwanda and has proven itself, spectacularly so. Currently, a distribution center similar to the one pictured below can deploy more than a ton of medical supplies in one day. Zipline flies more than 40,000 km (over 25,000 mi) each day and they’ve logged over 6,000,000 km flown to real customers.

Image courtesy of flyzipline.com

The little drones can operate in extremes: from the hot California desert to the rainy mountains of Rwanda. Zipline’s drones fly through real-world weather, day and night, carrying a payload of up to 1.75kg ((3.85 lb) each. That’s three units of life saving blood and multiple drones can be dispatched simultaneously to a set of coordinates.

Delivery of Covid vaccines to remote areas, quickly and without the need for extended refrigeration (they’re used as they arrive) is promising to open a whole new sector to these intrepid little aviators. Watch the video below to see just how amazing these drones are.

Meet the founders

Keller Rinaudo
CEO | Co-Founder
Email: None
Bio: Keller C. Rinaudo is an American robotics and autonomous airplane entrepreneur and the CEO and co-founder of Zipline. He was also the CEO and a co-founder of Romotive, a former company established in 2011 with Kickstarter funding that made inexpensive small robots that use mobile phones as their computing system, machine vision system, and wireless communication system. Romotive essentially shut down in 2014 and morphed into Zipline. Keller is a Harvard graduate (magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a 3.9 GPA) and grew up rock climbing. At one point, he was ranked in the top 10 in sport climbing
Connect: Linkedin | Twitter

Keenan Wyrobek
CTO | Co-Founder
Email: None
Bio: Roboticist Keenan Wyrobek’s first career was founding Willow Garage which created ROS (Robot Operating System) that now makes robotic components inter-operable. After creating a foundation to sustain this vital piece of open source software, Keenan went in search of new engineering challenges. He became intrigued with the idea of helping developing countries deliver crucial medical supplies to areas that are poorly served by roads. He co-founded Zipline, the VC-funded venture that is improving the lives of people in rural Rwanda. 
Connect: Linkedin | Twitter

Will Hetzler
Co-Founder
Email: None
Bio: Will Hetzler graduated from Harvard in 2009 as an economist. He worked as a consultant for Oliver Wyman for over three years, advising Fortune 500 aviation companies on engine maintenance, technical sourcing, supply chain and risk management.In 2014, he co-founded Zipline International in Silicon Valley to make drones to deliver critical medical supplies to remote parts of the world. He led the company’s work in Africa and established Zipline’s partnership with the Government of Rwanda. In 2018, he became the head of business development for the US and Canada.
Connect: Linkedin | Twitter

Connect with Zipline

Wondering why Medika does this?

We believe that technology-driven innovation and patient-centric solutions can offer the industry a clear route to universal healthcare within the next decade. To this end, we seek to actively amplify the voices of innovative businesses that are socially active and engaged in seeking solutions to the existing obstacles faced by the industry.
Innovators, disruptors, and advocates for patient-centered, equitable, and accessible care. Innovators that offer real-world technology-based healthcare solutions. Connect and help them realize their visions.

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