The School of International Biodesign (SIB), based in New Delhi, aims to cultivate a new generation of medical technology innovators in India. Funded by the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology, the school is run by a consortium of Indian, Japanese and Australian universities. Fellows, who come from all three countries, include medical, engineering, business and design graduates, and are grouped into multinational and multidisciplinary teams.
Fellows spend most of their first year in India. The first stage for participants is the ‘discovery’ phase, during which students find real world problems to engage with. Fellows spend time in clinics and a range of frontline settings, and also visit patients in their homes. In describing the programme, Dr Prashant Jha, one of its founders, emphasises the importance of this process, by which fellows become “married to a problem” they truly care about solving.
The second stage is the ‘define’ phase, some of which takes place at partner universities in Australia and Japan. At this stage, a problem is chosen, and teams drill down into a problem to define the particular issue they will work on, bearing in mind the skillsets of each team and the tools available to them.
Next, at the ‘design’ phase, teams work with users to come up with a whole range of possible products. These are then assessed in terms of acceptability and affordability, to determine which might be worthy of further development.
The final ‘deploy’ stage takes place once participants have graduated from the programme, and involves the refining of prototypes, seeking regulatory approval and filing for IP protection.
One of the many successful innovations that has emerged from the SIB programme is HiCARE LIMO, designed for caregivers working with patients who have suffered traumatic injuries but have not yet been able to receive definitive care. It is a cardboard splint that allows the temporary immobilisation and protection of injured limbs. The technology was licensed by HLL Lifecare Ltd, an Indian healthcare products manufacturing company, and has been used to treat nearly 30,000 patients in over 16 states in India.
Image credit: Prashant Jha