R&D for Global Health & Development

Reengineering Frontier Cold Chain


Reengineering Frontier Cold Chain

The rising cost and temperature sensitivity of new and underutilized vaccines have made cold-chain equipment mission critical in the global fight to eradicate polio and prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases. From 2008 to 2012 SEEDR built a multidisciplinary, cross-sector coalition to reinvent these tools of the last-mile.



Our process, in cross-cutting partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), began with an extensive review of existing user behavior, stakeholder perception, market analysis, and teardown of best-in-class equipment to determine where equipment design was failing and redesign could drive value.

We discovered critical gaps between the needs of frontline users, overarching immunization and disease surveillance program requirements, and what the market had been providing.


Through extensive finite-element analysis modeling, material and geometric optimization, industrial design, and several rounds of rapid and appearance prototypes for user and stakeholder feedback,  we had produced a new generation of cold-chain equipment ready for the global scale-up of new and underutilized vaccines and specimen transport from field to lab. 

The products reduced the incidence and consequence of user error to prevent the freezing of cargo without expensive or fragile equipment. They were ergonomic and highly carry-able, stackable, and useful across a number of real field applications. They are manufacturable and built to satisfy all industry specifications for the transport of pharmaceutical and biological specimen.




Under the direction of CDC's Global Immunization Division, we field tested cold box and carrier prototypes in real-world clinical diagnostics, routine and campaign immunization, and medical research settings in trials spanning Africa and Asia. 

The results demonstrated overwhelmingly successful user-interface design and dramatic and consistent improvements to temperature performance. The results drove the creation of a new product category in WHO's Performance, Quality & Safety (PQS) prequalification process and a new market for freeze-free cold chain equipment.