By Maha El Akoum, Research and Policy Development Officer, WISH
That’s right, applications are now open for the WISH 2018 Young Innovators competition! Our main mission at WISH is to improve healthcare delivery worldwide and part of how we do that is through supporting creative and promising innovations that provide solutions to the most pressing healthcare issues from around the globe.
Every two years, in preparation for our conference, our team sources, scouts, shortlists and recruits the best candidates internationally to participate. The summit provides winners of the competition with a platform to present their innovation in front of the Ministers of Health, healthcare experts, industry leaders, researchers and policy makers in attendance. During our last summit we featured seven innovations, ranging from apps designed to send simple text messages containing health tips to expecting mothers in rural Pakistan, to a take-home kit that helps distinguish bacterial infections (that would require antibiotics) from viral ones. The group represented inventors from seven different countries, that spanned different focus areas, operated at different care delivery settings and were at different stages of business and product development.
Having done this for a couple of years, you start picking up on trends and common characteristics on what it takes to become a successful innovator. Here are the top three that stand out:
- Stamina. Innovation, like any other success in life is rarely ever instantaneous or linear. The best innovators I’ve come across are the ones that build on their failures, those who get back up and start running despite the roadblocks and seemingly dead-ends. Those who use criticism as a catalyst for progress are most often the ones who win the race. Perhaps you should look at the WISH summit as an opportunity to gather as much feedback as you can to be able to upgrade the next version of your innovation. Maybe it is that little tweak suggested by that passerby that is the fuel to your big breakthrough.
- Passion. Contrary to popular belief, it is not enough to “love what you do”, that love should be coupled with a passion to share your story, to share what you do and to show the world why it is so important. The innovators that succeed beyond the WISH summit, from my experience, are the ones who didn’t miss an opportunity to engage and network with our delegates and pitch their ideas and follow up on their discussions post-conference. Don’t be afraid to pull someone aside and ask for 5 minutes of their time, no matter who that person might be. Even offer them a test drive of your innovation, that will get them more engaged and their experience more memorable.
- Respect for the field and respect for other innovators. It is very easy, especially for scientists and innovators, to get caught up in our superior bubble of genius and ignore other (commoner) opinions. However, a great characteristic of successful entrepreneurs and leaders is the ability to respect others and taking their ideas into account, regardless of your own preconceptions. Leaders respect opinions and look at them as viable feedback from users, from partners, from competitors and/or other stakeholders, to then factor in and build upon. While your experiences and training may have led you to think that your innovation is exemplary, another person’s background may help you see the flaws in design that you are perhaps blind to.
This year again we are looking for young, enthusiastic candidates that drive impactful work and ensure diverse populations and minorities have access to healthcare that is both high in quality and cost-efficient. If you are under 30 with a healthcare innovation, and believe you have what it takes (characteristics and all) to be a WISH 2018 Young Innovator, apply now using the link below.