Saturday, March 1, 2014

Technology for the developing world

It's time to finish the project I began with Steampunk fans ejected from San Diego area mall and left off at Post-apocalyptic book list as part of last month's perspective theme.  Here are two links and excerpts that tie into 'A Steampunk calculator' and six other sustainable technologies from The Archdruid.  Both of them are about technologies developed for developing countries that might be imported into the developed countries like the U.S. during what Greer calls "The Long Descent."

First, I present this article from the University of Georgia that I originally used in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Sochi Olympics).

UGA engineer receives $1 million to develop milk cooler
February 3, 2014
Athens, Ga. - Keeping milk safe and healthy to drink is a challenge in areas without electricity. A University of Georgia engineer received $1 million to continue working on a milk cooler designed to help dairy farmers, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, who lack access to refrigeration.

The milk cooler, developed by William Kisaalita, professor of biological and mechanical engineering in the UGA College of Engineering, uses the principle of evaporative cooling to quickly bring the temperature of milk to a safe holding temperature.

"It's the same phenomenon that occurs when you jump into a swimming pool and then you come out on a windy day," said Kisaalita. "If there's water on your skin, you will feel cold. This same principle is applied in chilling the milk."
That might come in handy if electricity and other forms of refrigeration become scarce.

The second link and excerpt describe an explicit proposal from the University of Michigan about "reverse innovation" in transportation.  Follow over the jump for it.

Shifting innovation in reverse could solve urban transit issues.
ANN ARBOR—When it comes to urban transit, both emerging and mature markets have some things in common—diminishing public resources, infrastructure constraints and air quality concerns.

And thanks to offshoring, many emerging markets have modern technical, manufacturing and cost-cutting know-how. That's why University of Michigan entrepreneurship professor Peter Adriaens thinks urban transit solutions for the West will come from the developing world, as part of a growing trend of reverse innovation.

"Global companies are outsourcing low-cost innovation to their suppliers in emerging countries and having them come up with designs that are cheap, simple, effective, and designed for the local market," said Adriaens, with the Ross School of Business. "But now we're starting to see some of those re-made for developed markets. There's a huge opportunity for this reverse innovation to develop new mobility systems."
Traditional innovation follows this usual pattern—a new product or service is created and sold for a high price to early adopters. These risk-takers are willing to experiment before all the bells and whistles are perfected. But to appeal to the mass market, the new product or service has to become affordable, proven and easy to use.

Reverse innovation starts at the other end—with a solution that is already cheap, works for low-income, mass-market consumers, and is simple and versatile.

"So many companies can't get across that chasm," Adriaens said. "Reverse innovation eliminates the chasm. You start with something simple that works and add features and design iterations into it for developed markets. You walk the adoption curve in the other direction. They innovate systems and designs that are cheap, simple, diverse, and meant for the home country, but they can be repurposed and scaled up for the West."
For new mobility, companies and cities in developed countries should look at how entrepreneurs in emerging markets work around the lack of infrastructure, congested roads, lack of subsidies, and the varying types of mobile devices people use.

"Budgets are being pushed to the maximum here in the West, and without subsidies the scale of adoption for most new mobility ideas or mass transit isn't going to happen. It won't cross the chasm," Adriaens said. "That's why more and more global corporations are looking to entrepreneurs in developing economies to see what kind of product or service could or would work here."

From energy solutions to health care, the idea of reverse innovation is getting more attention in the corporate world and is likely to become a standard practice.
The next time Greer talks about the front lines of progress moving in reverse, I will tell him about this paper.  That will confirm what he already suspects, which means these links also tie into A conversation with The Archdruid about predictions.  I'm sure he'll be even more insufferable after that.

No comments:

Post a Comment