Global Health Innovation Project
Developing Solutions to Address Global Health Needs Isn’t Easy...
"It’s not about being clever. Most people are pretty smart. It has to do with the ability to deal with failure. That to me is a really critical success factor—the ability to deal with failure in a constructive way. That actually entices you to be more creative, to be more stubborn, to be more persistent despite how difficult it is."
-Dr. Helen Lee, Diagnostics for the Real World, on the challenges of innovating to address global health needs
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 market:
- 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 launched a research project , funded by the C-IDEA grant (see sidebar), 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, we intend 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 these stories from the field. We also encourage you to add comments to our Global Health Innovation blog.