Take the Challenge: Design for the Other 90 Percent

Dr. Jim Patell teaches how to design innovative products for world's poor.

ByTERI WHITCRAFT and ANNA MARIA BARRY-JESTER
December 17, 2010, 2:36 PM

Dec. 17, 2010— -- How do you design a simple, elegant solution that can change the world?

Not easily, says Dr. Jim Patell, the professor whose graduate course "Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability" inspired students to create the Embrace Infant Warmer featured in "Be the Change: Save a Life."

Patell is teaching a new generation of entrepreneurs at Stanford Business School how to design and sell innovative, affordable products for the world's poor that can not only save lives but make money -- for the inventors as well as their partners in the developing world.

Ninety percent of the world's products and resources are designed for 10 percent of the world's population, but Patell works with his classes to turn these numbers on their head, designing innovative products that help solve common problems for people in the developing world.

This story is part of ABC News' "Be the Change: Save a Life" initiative, a year-long series of broadcast and digital coverage focusing on global health issues. For complete coverage and information on how you can personally make a difference, go to SaveOne.net.

Do you have an idea that you think can change the world? CLICK HERE to submit an idea to "Be the Change: Save a Life."

"Most people start with technology and try to find a problem," says Patell. "We start with a problem and then try to find technology that can fix it."

Working out of Stanford's Institute of Design, Patell has developed several fundamental building blocks for success, among them:

At the end of the course, which Patell teaches with three colleagues (mechanical engineer Dave Beach, design fellow Erica Estrada and former software entrepreneur Stuart Coulson), students have developed a prototype framed in a comprehensive implementation plan, including a business model, technical innovations, cultural rationale and the appropriate next steps. For more information, visit http://extreme.stanford.edu or listen to Patell talk about the course and design challenges.

To date, "Extreme Affordability" has sparked several successful solutions – both profit and nonprofit. Among them:

The "Be the Change: Save a Life" initiative is supported in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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