When a team at Stanford University accepted a challenge to design a low-cost prosthetic knee joint that could be produced locally for use in the JaipurFoot Organization’s clinics across India, the students thoroughly researched the problem, including the limitations of the existing knee joints the clinics were using. Over time, they created an innovative knee joint that met the unique needs of developing world amputees, which they called the JaipurKnee.
By late 2011, the JaipurFoot Organization had fitted 3,000 patients with the JaipurKnee joint in its clinics across India. Given its charitable mission, the JaipurFoot Organization had provided the JaipurKnees and the procedures at no cost to the patients. It locally manufactured the joints in its machine shops to keep its dependence on outside partners to a minimum and to directly control the inventory it needed. While Sadler and his teammates viewed their early experience with the JaipurFoot Organization as incredibly valuable, the team decided that it wanted to make its low-cost knee joint available to amputees beyond the Jaipur clinics in India. Unfortunately, they discovered significant market barriers. The total addressable market of 30 million amputees in countries around the world sounded like a lot, but the majority of these individuals are extremely poor, located in remote areas, and difficult to reach using current distribution channels. There were no well-established channels for reaching the millions of amputees who could benefit from the product, primarily because they were served by thousands of small, scattered clinics. This mini-case study describes how the JaipurKnee team developed a strategy to access its target market and scale up its business.
This story is part of the Global Health Innovation Insight Series developed at Stanford University to shed light on the challenges that global health innovators face as they seek to develop and implement new products and services that address needs in resource-constrained settings.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Joel Sadler, Vin Narayan, and Krista Donaldson of D-Rev for their participation. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.