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January 14, 2014

Medical-Gear Group's Experience Offers Social-Enterprise Lessons

The New York Times writes about D-Rev, a nonprofit enterprise that has created innovative medical equipment for use in developing countries but found that building a better mousetrap is only the first step to getting it into service.

The San Francisco organization's chief executive, design engineer Krista Donaldson, was inspired by visits to hospitals in India, where she saw donated equipment from the West languishing unused because it was not designed for local conditions. D-Rev has created new prosthetic devices and therapeutic systems with a goal of finding for-profit partners to bring them to market.

But getting those products to medical providers has been hamstrung by cronyism, lack of supply chains, and other local factors, meaning D-Rev has had to become versed in licensing deals, procurement, and other business matters.

"What D-Rev is doing hasn’t been done before," said Kevin Starr of the Mulago Foundation, a D-Rev donor. "They’re combining ways of designing equipment by focusing on the user and the user's context, while also thinking about how to get it to people, about strategies for distribution and the market."