At Stanford, we have a number of respected programs that provide students with hands-on, project-based opportunities to develop products and services that address the health-related needs of real patients around the world. The goal of these courses is to produce scalable solutions that can improve health and healthcare for underserved populations in developing countries and other low-resource settings.
After years of teaching innovation in these courses and watching our project teams pursue their projects beyond the academic setting, it has become abundantly clear just how difficult it is to develop and commercialize global health solutions. Often, it’s not the clinical or technical activities that derail innovators; it’s the business-related activities that prove to be most problematic. Our hypothesis is that challenges linked to the following steps in the innovation process routinely put good ideas at risk on their way to maket:
- Identifying/validating needs
- Understanding market/stakeholder dynamics
- Getting to a market-ready product or service
- Sales, marketing, and distribution
- Defining a viable business model
- Securing adequate funding
Recently, the Stanford GSB’s Program in Healthcare Innovation (PHI) launched a research project , funded by the C-IDEA grant, to explore these problems in greater detail and understand the creative solutions that innovators, entrepreneurs, and companies are devising to address them. Through this project, PHI is collaborating with Stanford’s Center for Innovation in Global Health, Biodesign, and SPARK to develop tools and materials that innovators can use to increase their effectiveness in tackling the business-related issues that are consistently problematic in low resource settings.
One of the first deliverables from the project is the Global Health Innovation Insight Series—vignettes that capture interesting issues, learnings, and ideas that we’ve uncovered through our exploratory research. Please visit the Global Health Innovation Insights Series page to check out the complete collection of these stories from the field.
This research is supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.