Technology Commercialization in Developing Countries

Rice University, 2009 - $32,000

With the purpose of addressing the astounding rates at which children in developing countries die each year due to lack of access to health technologies (often due to ineffective and unsustainable distribution systems), the Rice Institute for Global Health Technologies and Graduate School of Management will create a new technology commercialization course. The new course will focus on bringing engineering students who have already designed new health technologies with MBA students to develop business plans for these technologies in low-resource settings. Students will receive field experience in a developing country to gather information and identify local entrepreneurs and partners, and will produce and implement businesses to disseminate their technologies in developing countries.

This program will build on the success of a past course in technology commercialization course offered in spring 2009. In the course, four teams of MBA students developed business plans for assigned health technologies (created by Rice engineering students). With private philanthropic support, the students traveled to Rwanda during spring break and met with government officials and potential consumers from hospitals and clinics with the purpose of determining market size, potential consumers, price points, and product marketability. The new course will allow engineering and MBA students to work closely together in an interdisciplinary educational experience. MBA students will travel to Rwanda again in spring 2010, expanding on the business plans of former teams and developing plans for new products.