Ever heard of co-creation? It’s about to shake up the health sector

Imagine that you are the founder of a healthcare start-up. You have passion, experience, and a strong team of changemakers around you — but you lack the resources to take your organisation to the next level of growth. Now imagine that you are given the opportunity to work with one of the world’s leading healthcare companies.

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This was the premise of the Co-Creating a Healthier World challenge, which invited health innovators to develop a proposal for co-creation with the German pharmaceutical Boehringer-Ingelheim (BI). Over 150 challenge entries were whittled down to a cohort of 45 semi-finalists, with solutions focused on a range of health issues, from mental wellbeing and clean water hygiene, to mobile apps for the management of disease symptoms. This group had the opportunity to develop their ‘co-creation idea’ in more detail.

Co-creation is a collaborative process where two or more players from different sectors — such as companies, social organisations or government institutions — come together to co-design new ideas and products. Successful co-creation draws on the strengths of all stakeholders involved, resulting in win-win outcomes for everyone. While the concept is still relatively new, it has the potential to truly shift how companies and organisations approach a common goal, unlocking new solutions to some of society’s biggest challenges.

The goal of this global challenge, run in partnership with Ashoka Changemakers, was to highlight the power of this new approach, and the search for ideas yielded some inspiring results from across the world. Take Changamka Microhealth for example, a microinsurance lender based in Kenya. Changamka’s team saw an opportunity to develop holistic micro-insurance packages for six critical chronic illnesses using Boehringer Ingelheim’s expertise in providing medication, prevention and awareness training.

Indonesia-based Garbage Clinical Insurance (GCI), another microinsurance company, provides health insurance schemes in exchange for recyclable waste. Their co-creation plan offered BI the opportunity to reach new customers in low-income urban areas, while allowing GCI to expand their operations to new locations across Indonesia and beyond.

Another Kenyan organisation, Microclinic Technologies, tracks commodities in rural clinics through their ZiDi health management software. Their co-creation proposal initiated a plan to incorporate a new screening process for cardiovascular disease, developed together with BI’s expert cardiovascular team.

Italian health company Fight the Stroke’s rehabilitation toolkit enables infant stroke survivors to regain their neurological functions. Their co-creation idea proposed an innovative ‘Pill-Plus’ (drugs and rehab) solution, designed to reach thousands of new patients through Boehringer’s distribution channels.

Three more solutions — Noora Health, based in India; Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO), from Canada; and Eau et Vie, based in the Philippines — also designed innovative proposals to scale their operations and expand healthcare to new user groups.

These seven innovations were recognised as being pioneers of health co-creation, and were invited by BI to present their ideas at a global summit in Ingelheim, Germany, in March 2016. Following their pitches, the panel of expert judges were so impressed with all of the finalists’ work that they announced a decision to support all seven financially, with two top prizes of €20,000 awarded to MicroClinic and GCI, two runner-up prizes of €15,000 awarded to Changamka and Fight the Stroke, and three €10,000 prizes presented to Noora, CVO and Eau et Vie.

Originally published at www.virgin.com on April 4, 2016.

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