How a Partnership Led an Outdoor Equipment Company to Start a New Division
Friday, January 15, 2016
When Mountain Safety Research, an outdoor equipment manufacturer, donated gear following the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, the team started to ask whether some of its products might be adapted to meet the needs of remote villages. A deep partnership withPATH, a Seattle-based nonprofit focused on global health innovation, evolved over time and eventually led MSR to launch a global health division last May.
The launch of MSR Global Health coincided with the release of its debut product, a chlorine device now being piloted in Kenya and Mali.
The groundwork was laid back in 2008 when PATH, which was focusing on developing water treatment tools for households that could afford them was looking for a partner to work on providing safe water at the community level for people living on one or two dollars a day. When PATH saw that Cascade Designs, MSR’s parent company, was engineering water treatment products for military and outdoor recreation use, it decided to start a conversation. As those talks continued, PATH encouraged MSR to identify ways the purification system it had developed with support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency might work for people living on less than $5 a day.
The result of a joint effort between MSR and PATH to brainstorm, design, prototype, manufacture, and field test a new product is the SE200 Community Chlorine Maker.
“I do think we need to come up with a catchier name,” David Shoultz, program leader for drug development and devices and tools for PATH, joked as he demonstrated how the device works. With salt, water, and a power source such as a motorcycle battery, the small and portable device uses electrolysis to create a chlorine solution that can be used to disinfect 200 liters of water.
Villages can disinfect water sources from community sources like trucks, wells, or schools on the spot, sparing individuals from having to fetch and transport their water in large plastic containers. There is a growing number of entrepreneurs like Patrick Mailu in Nairobi, Kenya, who sell the water they treat using the device.
- Health Care