Everybody should have access to blood if they need it in an emergency situation. Yet the reality is that many people across the world have to find or replace blood when it is used for themselves or their relatives. And considering that there is a global deficit of 40 million blood units, this is not always easy thing to do. BloodLink, a startup company with a strong social mission, wants to make this reality a thing of the past. Unlike competitors who connect donors to patients, one of BloodLink’s core goals is to remove the stress of finding and replacing blood for patients and their families. They aim to make a real social impact by using technology to revolutionize the system of blood acquisition and exchange at the source.
BloodLink was founded in the summer of 2016 by Amit Lohiya. Born and raised in India, he first moved to Scotland to study electronic engineering at the University of Edinburgh. He worked in Holland for several years, before finally settling in Denmark with his Danish wife. As a regular blood donor, Amit decided to try and donate blood in his new home country. However, speaking fluent Danish was a requirement to fill out the necessary forms, and he was turned away.
What really caught Amit’s interest was not the fact that he needed to understand Danish to donate, but the fact that donation centres were actually turning people away for something so minor. Being from India originally, this was not the reality he grew up with.
The need for blood sufficiency in India became particularly poignant for Amit when his Father became sick in 2002 and needed a kidney transplant. Amit realized firsthand that having to find blood when there was a shortage was an unfair burden on the shoulders of already struggling families in a crisis.
Amit had always wanted to use his engineering background to make a social change, and finally decided that combining technology and social entrepreneurship could make a real impact. A return to India and several interviews later, Amit knew that blood shortages were a far-reaching social problem, particularly for people with long term chronic illnesses such as thalassemia or cancer. So Amit founded BloodLink, and began looking for a strong team to support him on his journey.
This began by winning a place at Thinkubator in June 2016, a think tank based at DARE2Mansion in Copenhagen. This propelled Amit forward and helped him find the right people for the team and exponentially expand the vision for BloodLink. Yet, the challenges for solving the problem were still multifaceted, not least because the problem is not well documented in India. For example, BloodLink has to overcome many social taboos in Indian culture when discussing blood donation and debunk myths surrounding its safety. However, as Amit says:
“It is extremely rewarding communicating with groups who can benefit directly from our solution, even if there are some challenges and cultural barriers. There is something very humbling about solving real problems that affect people in a very real way. Ultimately, we want to save lives.”
Clearly BloodLink has the drive to make the change, but they also have a strategic advantage as a team. All members have insider knowledge of the issues from their research and cultural backgrounds, and are fully committed and united in their goal to create a social impact. They understand the importance of a slick piece of technology, but also the significance of reaching out to the communities that will directly benefit from BloodLink’s solution. They are a group that has both the technical and communicative skills to pull together a tangible solution that the Indian population will believe in.
BloodLink now has funding from Danish innovation fund and is reaching out to several interested angel investors that wish to contribute to the mission. The alpha-prototype is currently being designed to help blood banks in India exchange blood more efficiently, plus they are planning to extend their offerings to connect blood banks to blood donors, and improve the organization of blood donor camps over time.
Alongside this, BloodLink is beginning to connect with communities in India to share knowledge, raise awareness and provide a space to share real stories about the problems they have faced. BloodLink believes in a people centric approach, and therefore empathizes and includes the society they are designing for, with the aim of making a real and lasting impact.
The future of BloodLink is to expand across the Indian market and become well established over the next 2 years, eliminating the black market and improving millions of lives. Eventually, BloodLink would like to take their technology and experience around the world, helping other developing countries and creating a blood sufficient world.