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What happens when large corporations and startups converge?

Innovation for global health says this chief technologist

By Vikram Damodaran_C7B9638Today’s world is one of convergence.

Convergence of global markets.

Convergence of personal and private data.

Convergence of technology with service to form the sharing economy.

Convergence of millennials and baby boomers in the workplace.

And this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, we’re seeing the convergence of leaders across industries to discuss pros, cons and everything in between of these colliding worlds.

One of the more interesting and salient points that has resonated in these conversations from WEF continues to center around leveraging disruption to create value.

For us in the private sector, it makes the case for bringing together the power of start-ups with that of large companies – the big and the small, the old (in GE’s case, a 125-years old) and the new.

More specifically, how do we create entrepreneurship within our own system? There is even a word for it – intrapreneurship.

In the realm we work in, global health and the industries that serve it needs this converge of ideas to progress. While the world is battling the cost of care and slowly gravitating towards value and outcomes based care, the situation in emerging markets calls for deeper interventions that are more fundamental in nature. Reducing the cost of technologies is only the starting point. Making healthcare affordable and accessible to the 5.8 billion people with limited access to healthcare globally starts with the creation of core infrastructure, resources at all levels of the healthcare delivery chain and then ensuring that patients are made aware, engaged and empowered.From large corporations, as well as multilateral agencies, donors, and governments, there have been consistent and extremely impactful interventions over the last few decades, but the increase in the need for care in emerging markets still outruns the rate of interventions and the private sector is often stymied by pull to focus on its core areas.Quotes_template_Final_Vikram quoteFrom several entrepreneurs, there has been an increasing and outstanding effort to fix a very large gamut of problems across the healthcare delivery spectrum, but the scalability of these solutions has been tested.

Here in is the dichotomy and the opportunity.


At GE Healthcare, one of the ways we’re attempting to create convergence is through a global health accelerator, “five.eight”. Five.eight is highly focused on accelerating commercial scalability of global health solutions, with the potential for GE Healthcare distribution of the startup product, or integration of the service into GE Healthcare’s Affordable Care Portfolio. Through the program, the startups will have access to healthcare market-related information, including but not limited to customer market information, IP landscaping and market opportunity assessments, technological and clinical mentors from GE Healthcare and its customers/partners, and support on marketing and business development initiatives.We realize we cannot solve problems all by ourselves. We need partners. Tapping into the startup and innovation ecosystem is one important approach that globally allows us to see, discover, and potentially work alongside a vital group of problem solvers and next generation thinkers. It creates a mutually beneficial opportunity as we seek to explore technologies that disrupt and grow markets through digital transformation.

The road in front of us is long. The convergence of start-ups with large companies is but one pair of partners coming together. But the more the convergence, the higher the capability to accelerate impact. With it, a brighter future for the sustainability of healthcare is on the horizon.

Vikram Damodaran is Chief Technology Officer of GE Healthcare’s Sustainable Healthcare Solutions.