Brazil-based international mining giant Vale had created and structured a division called Open Innovation in February 2020 as part of its efforts to promote local community-led social initiatives. The Open Innovation forum was designed to build collaboration with universities, research institutes, startups, and community entities -- with a larger goal of infusing fresh ideas and socially-driven programs into the Vale ecosystem.

An ‘Open’ Challenge

The Open Innovation Framework, developed by TCS and Vale and other partners, was launched in March 2020. This was the time the Novel Coronavirus hit Brazil hard and it became clear that the focus needed to shift to innovation in the areas of health and disease management.

Vale launched a challenge under the Open Innovation program to throw open the field to sustainable and disruptive ideas to help local communities cope with the scale at which the virus was spreading. The company decided to donate USD 1 million as investment towards accelerating the projects that won the bid.

The Vale COVID-19 Challenge called for the registration of institutions to qualify for the financing. A TCS team worked on the initiative, helping to identify the main challenges, to consolidate, and to display proposals from third-party organizations that were seeking funding to implement their local programs. The Challenge attracted 1,852 proposals in just eight days.

As technology partners working on this open innovation in mining, TCS helped establish communication channels to facilitate the call for innovation, define categories, and prepare an online platform to receive, analyze and shortlist proposals that would qualify. It also built a process for the evaluation committee to examine and classify the proposals to ease and accelerate the panelists’ decision-making. The objective was to focus on proposals that would comply with the criteria of the medical committee and offer a scalable business model that could be deployed in as little as two weeks following the funds infusion.  The TCS innovation team has supported Vale's legal team in the preparation of legal documents necessary to carry out related activities, such as MOU, Privacy Policy and Intellectual Property protection.

As part of Open Innovation, TCS also supported Vale in establishing a partnership with two hospitals, Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein and Rede Mater Dei de Saúde, in Brazil. Both helped in the evaluation of the proposals to ensure that the candidates met technical requirements to operate at the community level. Some of these requirements included:

  • Risk prevention through the disinfection of personal protective equipment using ultraviolet rays
  • Triage and diagnosis --performing COVID-19 tests in groups
  • Patient monitoring mobile devices to check vital signs and data on hemodynamics


5 Days, 500,000 Lives

The Open Innovation team kickstarted the initiative in just five days. The use of open source tools and cloud systems helped maximize budget set aside for the platform.  More than 100 hospitals received assistance through the Open Innovation Challenge and over 500,000 people were directly impacted through the COVID-19 tests and medical monitoring.

Recognizing TCS’ efforts in executing the Open Innovation Challenge, Afzal Jessa, CDO, Vale, said “It’s amazing to see people coming together and reaching beyond their borders to make a difference in this fight against COVID-19. The ingenuity of the submitted solutions was really impressive. I am really proud of the entire team that worked tirelessly to make this happen. In addition to the institutions that were formal partners, I also want to thank the many silent partners behind the scenes.”

If one were looking for an instance of how technology facilitates healthcare at the community level in a scalable, sustainable fashion, the Vale story would make for a winning bid.