Devex Senior Reporter Catherine Cheney and President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar at the Prescription for Progress event in San Francisco. Photo by: Devex

SAN FRANCISCO — Silicon Valley is brimming with health innovations, from devices that can diagnose a disease based on the sound of a cough, to drones that can deliver lifesaving blood and medicine. But how can these innovative solutions achieve scale and sustainability?

On Feb. 20, Devex and partners hosted the second annual full-day event Prescription for Progress in San Francisco, convening over 170 experts to discuss the role of partnerships in scaling effective global health innovations.

Dr. Florence Duperval-Guillaume, Haiti country director at Chemonics International and former minister of health and former acting prime minister, stressed the need for organizations to work in close collaboration with the ministries of health, adding that “communication is really key.”

“When you come to a country, don’t just do a presentation to the ministry and say it’s going to work,” she said. “You need to take time to really sit down and technically present your project in order to give the minister part of [the] responsibility of your success or your failure … make them accountable for your success.”

Ensuring all partners have a clear understanding of the role they’re expected to play is also crucial.

“You have to be clear on what the ask is: you cannot go to the private sector, in this instance the big tech companies, without a clear, crisp ask about what role they can play, what’s in it for them, how much risk it is,” said Dr. Naveen Rao, senior vice president of health at The Rockefeller Foundation, when announcing new partnerships with Medic Mobile.

Souleymane Sawadogo, general manager for global health at Parsyl — a company providing technology for global health supply chains — believes funders and donors need to take risks with startups.

“The technology that we have can really save the world or make a difference, but we have to find the right ecosystem, the right partnership — we can’t do it alone,” he said.

Continue reading for the 5 takeaways from Prescription for Progress.

About the author

  • Natalie Donback

    Natalie Donback is an Editorial Associate and Reporter at Devex. She holds a bachelor's degree in development studies from Lund University and a master's in journalism. She has worked in documentary filmmaking and as a freelance journalist covering politics and culture in Swedish, English, and Spanish. She is now based in Barcelona and produces content for digital content series and media partnerships.