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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Guest Post: Local Innovation And Enterprise - The L-RAMP Model

By Derek Newberry

Arun SharmaGuest blogger Arun Sharma is Scouting Lead for Innovations at the Lemelson Recognition and Mentoring Program (L-RAMP). He is also a writer for L-RAMP Blog, which explores trends in social enterprise, innovation, technology and poverty alleviation.

By Arun Sharma

Meet Dr. Venkata Krishnan, a retired veterinary medicine professor from Chennai who has developed numerous products for animal health and welfare. Recently, he came to us with an innovation for dairy cows: a way to detect bovine mastitis much before clinical symptoms of the disease significantly affect milk production.

Bovine mastitis is a bacterial disease which commonly affects dairy cows and through degraded and reduced milk production, has negative financial impacts on dairy farmers. By developing a simple and inexpensive kit for the early detection and treatment of bovine mastitis, Dr. Krishnan has provided an easy way for farmers to preserve the health of their cows and minimize financial losses from this disease.

After completing development of the kit, Dr. Krishnan wanted help to take this kit into the market. Enter L-RAMP, a non-profit socially motivated incubator, which was well placed to offer him the funding, technical assistance and business development support that he required. We recognized the potential social impact of this innovation and, as a result, have been enabling Dr. Krishnan through key barriers including protecting his intellectual property, proving the technical performance of the kit and developing a business model which delivers the benefits to farmers in a sustainable manner.

Today, his patent application is in progress, technical reports indicate good detection and treatment performance, farmer reviews are positive and we are working with him to develop a business model to reach India's thousands of small and marginal dairy farmers. We hope to bring Dr. Venkata Krishnan's innovative mastitis detection and treatment onto the market soon and thereafter scale it up to dairy farmers across India. Watch this space for updates.

This is the market-based approach to poverty alleviation that we advocate at L-RAMP. Through the provision of capital funding, technical mentoring and business development support, we aim to scale innovations like Dr. Krishnan's into enterprises which can achieve large-scale social impact. We see a virtuousvirtuous circle cycle of benefits in this approach - enabling innovation to become social enterprise leads to community benefit, promoting increased prosperity for all which enhances the potential of people to continually innovate. Our strategy is based on three key convictions:

  • We believe that an important component of effective poverty alleviation strategies should be a focus on innovative ideas
  • We believe that local knowledge spawns the most useful innovations
  • We believe that enterprise is the best way to achieve maximal social benefit

NextBillion.net is all about development through enterprise; L-RAMP is all about development through enterprise via innovation. We see a great fit and so we're happy to share our stories and perspectives in this and future posts. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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