Innovation Monitor: Jugaad or “Reverse” Innovation

  • Reuse: “Creative solutions [for PPE] include using a hole puncher and overhead transparencies… to make protective shields. As a short-term measure, [US VP] Mike Pence… asked the construction industry to donate their respirators to the health care sector.”
  • Repurpose: “In Senegal, researchers repurposed a Dengue fever test kit to develop a $1 coronavirus version that gets results in just 10 minutes.”
  • Recombine: “The Chinese built a 1,000-bed hospital from scratch in 10 days using pre-fabricated construction techniques used mainly in large-scale housing developments.”
  • Rapidity: The British gov’t initially went with Dyson’s design for a quick-to-manufacture ventilator (which the company spent $25M to prototype), but ended up going with a frugal innovation approach by the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, which “reused existing production capacity, repurposed one of its member’s existing anesthesia products, and recombined members’ individual sector-specific strengths.”
  • South Korea: “One innovation, generally attributed to South Korea, is to use drive-through sites in which people are tested while still in their cars. This simple idea has already diffused widely across the U.S., and companies like Walmart and Walgreens are joining the trend.”
  • Africa: “Applying learning from African contact-tracing practices,” workers in Massachusetts “made 8,000 to 10,000 calls daily, then followed patients through the quarantine and treatment periods. (The program is voluntary and has safeguards for data security and privacy.)”

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NYC Media Lab connects university researchers and NYC’s media tech companies to create a new community of digital media & tech innovators in New York City.

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