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Champion for women's and children's health receives KTH Innovation Award

Portrait of Rustam Nabiev
Rustam Nabiev was named the first recipient of the new KTH Innovation Award as co-founder of Shifo. (Photo: Patrik Lundmark)
Published Jul 01, 2021

The very first KTH Innovation Award goes to Rustam Nabiev, co-founder of the non-profit Shifo Foundation, which focuses on children’s health in countries with low vaccination rates. Nabiev has a crystal clear goal: “A day when no mother or child dies or suffers from preventable diseases". To date, more than 900,000 children have been helped by the recipient’s innovation, so the journey towards this important goal has begun.

Nabiev was named the first recipient of the new KTH Innovation Award as co-founder of Shifo. He has overall responsibility for the development of the technology that Shifo provides to prevent children in developing countries from dying as a result of low vaccination rates.

The citation for the award reads:

“The first recipient of the KTH Innovation Award is someone who embodies the spirit of KTH: working towards a brighter tomorrow. For taking on the enormous challenge that no mother or child shall die or suffer from preventable diseases, and his creativity, grit and courage in implementing the solution with the people who need it the most, the 2021 KTH Innovation Award goes to Rustam Nabiev, co-founder of the Shifo Foundation.”

KTH President Sigbritt Karlsson says that Nabiev is a positive role model for the university.

“KTH's core is technical research and education, but also to work for a better society, not least in the world's developing countries,” Karlsson says. “Rustam Nabiev acts in that spirit, and as president of KTH I am proud of what he has achieved. The world needs more people like him.”

How does it feel to receive the KTH Innovation Award?

“It was a big surprise. So I am both surprised and happy,” Nabiev says.

Nabiev says that Shifo's technology is a form of smart paper—forms that are filled out by hand and later digitised to collect health data. The technology must be able to function regardless of access to infrastructure such as electricity. A large number of children have already been registered in this way in countries such as Uganda, Afghanistan and the Gambia.

Nabiev’s background includes studying computer science at KTH—a time in his life that helped him move forward.

“It was in connection with my thesis that I conducted at KTH and Karolinska University Hospital that I learned about telemedicine and e-health,” he says. “I understood what opportunities there were to improve countries' healthcare systems.

“After being involved in various projects in Africa and Asia, among other places, I then gained a good understanding of the inequalities that exist, especially when it comes to access to healthcare. So I decided to dedicate my life to trying to do something about this global problem.”

For more information, contact Lisa Ericsson, Head of KTH Innovation, at +46 8-790 66 07 or

About the KTH Innovation Award

  • The KTH Innovation Award is presented to "one or several individuals with a connection to research and education at KTH whose innovation and entrepreneurial feats have contributed to the development of new knowledge and positive impact in society."
  • The KTH Innovation Award is presented to people from KTH who, through innovative solutions, have contributed to a better society. The award, established in 2020, was made possible by donations by Daniel Ek, Spotify CEO and founder, and Mathias Uhlén, professor at KTH. The monetary award is SEK 500,000.
  • The prize was presented for the first time on July 1, 2021, in a ceremony at KTH.
  • More about the KTH Innovation Award
Belongs to: About KTH
Last changed: Jul 01, 2021