As we mention in the context & need assessment and in the creation of an alliance sections, a relevant technological innovation can only happen if its requirements have been adequately determined and once a capable technology innovator has been identified and onboarded.
Most of the time, the aims that the innovation(s) are expected to achieve are many, and sometimes contradictory. An innovative device should thus be more robust, mechanically speaking and with respect to its working environment, which implies the use of more sophisticated materials and/or more encapsulation for example, or through the addition of electrical batteries, although the cost of the device should be kept lower than « traditional » devices. The innovative device should be easier to use, which can be done through a reduction of the number of device features or a simplification of the user interface, although additional features are sometimes desirable to compensate for the lack of trained personnel. Technology experts are thus mandatory to either design innovations that can provide even what would seem to be contradictory advantages, or to strike the optimal balance between the contradictory requirements.
Moreover, the importance of collaboration and of an iterative process must be underlined. It is crucial to have close discussions between medical practitioners, engineers, and users to make sure the technical requirements of the innovative device are correctly understood, or « translated » from user needs to technical features. In our experience, this can however not happen at first shot, and it is necessary to have back and forth exchanges between these groups to ensure the innovation hits its intended target.
Beyond this relatively concrete technological development, we must also pay attention to the broader implications of our innovations. Indeed, in order to ensure that an innovative venture provides positive social benefits, it is necessary to define the desired long-term goals at the very onset of our activities. The pathway to the desired impact involves clearly understanding the current situation and then determining all the steps and resources required to generate the effects that ultimately lead to the impact. We use a kind of logical framework to do this.
It is advisable to start by accurately identifying the unmet need to be addressed, we call this the situation. The next step is then to determine the inputs (resources, skills, people, infrastructure, etc.) required, as well as gaining a sound understanding of the context. Activities are a set of actions or tasks that the organization needs to perform with the inputs, in order to help realize and support the impact objectives. As a consequence, outputs will be generated, which can be defined as the tangible products and services that result from the activities undertaken. These outputs will then cause changes or effects on individuals or the environment, which are the outcomes that you expect to result from the delivery of products and services. Finally, the outcomes can lead to the much desired impact, which is defined as the effects and/or changes in society or the environment that follow from the outcomes that have been achieved.
Such a framework can help uncover alternative paths and provide important insights about the quickest and most efficient strategy to reach impact and scale. For instance, in one can envisage creating a start-up
company or, alternatively, it could be more relevant to transfer or license out the innovation to an existing company with compatible interests.
Finally, the logical framework also involves the selection of methods to measure and track progress towards outputs, outcomes and impact via the use of carefully chosen indicators/metrics, which can sometimes be challenging, notably for impact.