[SE07-HUM_a] Medical Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Impact in Global Health

DAY 2 – Tuesday 3 May – 11:15-12:45
Swiss Tech | Room 2C | Level Garden

Session Leader | Summary | Panelists and Abstracts


Session Leader

Klaus Schönenberger
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

Klaus Schönenberger obtained a PhD (1996) from EPFL on medical technology. After a post-doc at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he spent 10 years working in the medical devices industry in leading positions such as Global Vice-President of Research and Technology in a company with a turnover of US$ 1 billion. In 2010 he started-up EssentialMed, an innovative non-profit venture, which he is now leading as CEO. In 2011 he joined EPFL to launch EssentialTech, a program directed at developing technologies and business models to fight poverty.



Many important medical devices, such as X-ray diagnostic imaging systems and neonatal incubators, which are essential to primary healthcare, are still not available in much of the developing world. Moreover, even when such medical devices might be available, they are often dysfunctional and not correctly utilized, thereby diminishing and/or eliminating their intended benefit and impact.

The context of healthcare delivery in developing countries is characterized by scarcity in three main areas: in financial resources, in quality infrastructure and in trained personnel. These unique features warrant a complete or significant rethink/redesign of technology solutions and business models, so as to better fit the needs, and is a necessary condition for successful large scale and sustainable deployment. However, a complete redesign/rethinking of technology and business models typically requires high financial investments, a factor that discourages companies and investors as they still perceive these “markets” as financially unattractive and too risky. Risk is inherent to entrepreneurship, but this risk is perceived as even higher in developing markets because there are few prior established benchmarks.

This session will hear from players operating in these markets how the different risks were/are mitigated, using examples of innovations that are in the process of development, deployment and/or in the scale-up phase. Participants in the session will help extract lessons about good strategies and best practice for maximizing the chances of successfully transforming a new technology to the private sector and sustainably scaling it up, thereby maximizing positive impact on global health.


Kelley Maynard, Rice University, United States, Development and Scale-Up of Essential Newborn Technologies


Debbie Lin Teodorescu, MIT D-Lab & Harvard Medical School, United States, Developing a Low-Cost, Ultraportable, Modular Device Platform to Improve Access to Safe Surgery [PDF Full Paper]


Lina Sayed, Gradian Health Systems, United States, Innovating Beyond Technology: Building a Business Model to Distribute and Sustain the Universal Anaesthesia Machine