Why the 'network effect' is essential for innovators

As any experienced innovator knows, it takes years — and plenty of trial and error — for a big idea to reach market. At the core of this success are those believers who support the innovation through each hurdle. Devex spoke to several innovators about why networks and champions are so vital to the process. Photo by: Spot Us / CC BY-SA

After surviving another bout of malaria in 2012, Brian Gitta dreamed up an app-based malaria diagnostic device. He asked friends at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda — where he was studying computer science — to help him develop the tool, which they called Matibabu, a Swahili term for “treatment.”

Gitta’s idea, which involves a hardware device called matiscope that uses light sensors to determine the number of red blood cells and a smartphone app that displays the results, quickly gained popularity. The device, which promises to diagnose malaria without the need for blood extraction, won several awards in various tech and innovation competitions, including the International Technology Award during the Higher Solutions Education Network’s annual technology conference in 2013. Merck also awarded the app creators with 25,000 euros ($26,935) in funding, as well as coaching sessions and workshops under a three-month accelerator program in March 2016.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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