On Technology Transfer

The other day I asked @OutofPoverty, who was welcoming questions via Twitter, the following:

Based on your experiences, what factors caused failure in technology transfer?

@OutofPoverty answered:

1)   Technology that is too expensive

2)   Failure to design for the market

3)   Absence of last mile supply chain

4)   No attention to business principle


The reason I asked this had to do with a lot of design projects by our industrial design students, both within an academic scope and extra-curricular programs, and also numerous research, experiments and projects by our industrial design research group, especially the ones that take place in rural or remote areas. In those areas, essential needs and problems are obvious; however, the answer is not always “design” as in a “tangible product”, but sometimes it’s the infrastructure that hinders access, unaffordable materials, or substandard resources. Designers often have to think beyond the tangible product, by creating also a system that supports the availability and delivery of the product. With it, comes the aspect of technology transfer, as well.

Theoretically, the concepts of “appropriate technology” and factors that guarantee its sustainability once it is implemented are familiar to us, but still, not all technology transfer works for every case. Therefore, I wonder what others in a similar line of works have experienced.

The answer confirmed that there should always be a realistic economic calculation for any solution, next to other crucial factors such as usability and access. Thanks, Paul Polak & team! 🙂

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