1. Identify two SPECIFIC funding sources for the design phase of your project and two SPECIFIC funding sources for the dissemination (implementation/distribution/commercialization) phase of your project. For each funding source, explain why this is a good fit for your project, and what SPECIFIC aspect of your project might the funding source support.
We have identified several funding sources for the design and dissemination phases of our projects.
Right now, our group is applying to the Phase 1 of the VentureWell E-Team grant (https://venturewell.org/e-team-grant-program/?utm_source=EOEmailFeb19&utm_medium=email). This grant provides $5,000 in funding as well as training and mentoring during a workshop. This is a great opportunity for our team as it will provide us with non-dilutive funding and give us invaluable knowledge on company building and market analysis. Additionally, we are a great fit for this grant as it is designed for engineering based teams which are creating innovations with social impact. Finally, if we are successful with the phase 1 application, we will become eligible to apply for the phase 2 grant, which will provide us with an additional $20,000 in funding and further mentoring and networking opportunities.
Once we have a working prototype, we will then apply for the DEBUT (Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams) grant (https://venturewell.org/debut/?utm_source=EOEmailFeb19&utm_medium=email). This grant is sponsored by the NIH National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and VentureWell to provide up to $20,000 in funding for biomedical research projects focused on solving real-world problems in healthcare. This grant requires a working prototype, and is awarded based on the significance of the problem being addressed, and the impact the proposed solution has on end users. This grant would be a great opportunity for our team since it would provide funding towards the optimization and testing of a working test strip prototype. This grant application would be due May 31st, 2020 (and is only for undergraduate teams, so would have to apply after I graduate).
For the dissemination phase of our project, we will first focus on grants which support proof of concept operations. One grant which may be a great fit for this purpose is the USAID Development Innovation Ventures (DIV). This grant focuses on supporting innovative solutions to any global development challenge, and includes three phases. The first phase provides up to $200,000 for proof-of-concept stage projects, and could help support our work piloting the test strip in Sierra Leone. The second phase provides up to $1,500,000 in funding to support testing and positioning for scale, which could support our project as we test new ideas and build evidence on implementation parameters so that we can scale our product to other countries. Finally, the third stage provides up to $5,000,000 for scaling initiatives, and would help support our work as we expand successful solutions into other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Once we have evidence supporting the utility and impact of our device, we can also target funders of the Free Healthcare Initiative (FHCI). The FHCI in Sierra Leone provides free, basic healthcare services to pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children under 5. This initiative is funded by other governments (especially the UK department of International Development, the UN, and financial NGOs). Therefore, once we prove the impact, cost-effectiveness, and viability of our product, we can target these funders of the FHCI in order to find a sustainable funding source for the commercialization phase of our project.
2. Identify five specific partnerships that you need to forge to advance your project forward with the ultimate goal of positively impacting atleast one million people. Describe exactly how that partnership might help you achieve scale and why that entity might be willing to work with you.
In order to advance our project forward and positively impact at least one million people, our team will have to make many strategic partnerships.
The first partnership we will have to make is a with a manufacturing company to which we can outsource the production of our device. Like the Ukweli team, we will probably need to contact multiple companies and choose the cheapest/best option. Some companies which are known for producing lateral flow devices, and which we may consider, include Abingdon Health, BBI solutions, and Atomo Daignostics.
Another partnership we will have to establish is with the Pharmacy board in Sierra Leone. In order to get device approval for use in Sierra Leone, we will have to work with them. We will have to start working with this partner soon, so that we can make sure that we consider their regulatory requirements in the design process.
A third partnership we will have to establish is with the funders behind the FHCI. Since the funders of the FHCI (including the UK department of International Development, the UN, and financial NGOs) will be responsible for choosing what services and products they pay for, it is essential that we develop good partnerships with them early on so that we can make sure our device meets their specifications.
Additionally, we will need to build partnerships with hospitals in Sierra Leone. Since we will be piloting distribution and implementation parameters there, it is essential that we have close partnerships with healthcare workers and facilities so that we can get feedback on this process and choose the best parameters for scaling up the project.
Finally, we will want to establish partnerships with SCD-focused organizations, such as the Sickle Cell Disease Coalition. The SCDC is composed of public health and research organizations, patient groups, and industry representatives with special interest in sickle cell disease. Their goals include finding stable funding for SCD programs, developing reliable approaches to adult SCD care, and establishing feasible solutions for bringing diagnostic devices and therapies to low-resource setting. Because this coalition has connections with many powerful stakeholders in the SCD community, they will be a great resource for our team. Specifically, in addition to putting us in contact with funding sources, they may be able to help us connect with organizations who focus on the therapy or education side of SCD, so that our device can be implemented as part of a bigger outreach effort.