Tuesday morning and the traffic congestion in Kenya’s capital city is even worse than usual. It’s a bit late when the participants arrive for the iteration workshop at the Nairobi Garage, a trendy co-working space in the Westlands neighbourhood, which is dominated by countless office blocks. Zachariah Eric Oloo, managing director of a Kenyan financing company in the health care sector, and Ann-Katrin Gonschior of Boehringer Ingelheim greet each other warmly. Since they met at the three-day lab of tomorrow workshop in Darmstadt early last year, they have continued working together online. At last, the working groups Food4Health, Dronex, Med on Demand, Healthy Appy, DAWA IT and Value Chain 4.0 can get together again. This time, they aren’t thousands of kilometres away from the actual problem but are close to its roots. There is no reliable means of transporting medicines, vaccines and blood reserves to Kenya’s remote health centres. Pharmacies and hospitals often end up with the wrong quantities. In particular, children and pregnant women suffer as a consequence. There is an urgent need for intelligent logistical solutions.
The lab participants have devised some innovative business models to help provide solutions to these problems, from airborne emergency pharmacies using drones, to electronic marketplaces and bonus point programmes for the financing of health services. Those at the workshop include the pharmaceuticals companies Merck and Boehringer Ingelheim, Deloitte Deutschland, the Broadreach Healthcare Corporation of South Africa, the German start-up Wingcopter, and the Kenyan companies Chamganka Health Innovations and MicroClinic Technologies. Supported by the new ‘lab of tomorrow’ format, they worked on these ideas collectively, both during and after the kick-off workshop in Germany, testing and re-testing them for their practical feasibility and their suitability to users’ needs.
In a series of ‘iterations’, the participants assess whether or not the project ideas are convincing for local users, potential public- and private-sector partners, or possible investors inside Kenya. The programme includes the revision of the business ideas, discussions of the ideas with representatives of the public and private sectors, business development talks, factory visits, and consumer testing with the first prototypes.
In the subsequent phases, devoted to financing the development of the projects and minimising the risks, GIZ worked with the teams, supporting them on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). ‘The lab of tomorrow is more than just a design-thinking workshop held in Germany,’ says GIZ’s Christoffer Brick. ‘It is a comprehensive business model innovation process that builds on the Sustainable Development Goals, from problem analysis and brainstorming for ideas, through to the testing of those ideas in developing countries and emerging economies. With this first successful iteration workshop in Kenya, we’ve brought the first cycle of one lab of tomorrow process to a close. Now we’ll use the experiences gained from the process for the ongoing development of the concept.’