The first MOOC teaching a methodology about how to use technology innovation as a tool to fight poverty and enable sustainable development.

Course Details

Language English
Duration 6 week
Effort 3 hour/week

Technology innovation can be a great enabler for development in low and middle-income countries. This course presents a methodology and an approach to develop impactful innovations that have the power to foster sustainable development.

Whether you are from an industrialized or a developing country, whether you are employed in a company, an NGO, an international organization or a government. Whether you are an academic, an independent entrepreneur, or simply a passionate individual, this course is for you.

You will learn how, as an innovator, you can help solve important issues that burden those living in poverty. Through practical examples, we will demonstrate how you can take your initiative from a blank sheet of paper through to large-scale deployment of your technology innovation.
This course is not just about coming up with a nice idea, or designing a nice prototype, but more importantly, about sustainably deploying it at large scale. It fosters an entrepreneurial approach, as you will learn how to design business models that are relevant to address development-related challenges. It encourages co-creating the solution with the key stakeholders involved, including the affected populations. Coming-up with solutions that are more affordable and more durable, that require less use of consumables and electricity while still being economically viable, concerns all of us, and not just the people living in poverty.

What you will learn

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Determine how contextual factors influence technology development and deployment.

  • Create innovative technologies that sustainably impact poverty.

  • Lead a technology innovation process -from initial concept to product scale-up- maximizing impact and minimizing risk.

  • Evaluate alternative business models for technologies intended to impact poverty.


There is no previous knowledge required.


  • Chapter 1 : Poverty and Sustainable development

  • Chapter 2 : Essential Technologies

  • Chapter 3 : From Idea to Impact, a Methodology

  • Chapter 4 : Product Development Tool

  • Chapter 5 : Bussiness Shaping tools

  • Chapter 6 : Process recap

  • Peer graded assignment

Course instructors

Klaus Schönenberger

Klaus Schönenberger spent over 10 years in the medical devices industry in leading positions. In 2009 he was shocked by the inequality in access to essential medical devices between industrialized and poor countries. He thus left the industry and went to …

Solomzi Makohliso

Solomzi Makohliso is the Deputy Leader of the EssentialTech Program at EPFL. He is an international entrepreneur with biotechnology start-up industry experience from the United States, Switzerland, and South Africa. His areas of interest include sustainab…

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

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