Less than one week after Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke University (SEAD) issued the Duke Ebola Innovation Challenge, interdisciplinary teams of Duke students responded with specific solutions to the challenges of fighting Ebola in West Africa and beyond. This opportunity brought together medical students with public policy students and engineering students with business students allowing each team’s varied background to bring fresh, collaborative perspectives to fighting Ebola.
Students attended a series of workshops hosted by SEAD, Sanford Public Policy School, and DGHI, after which 22 interdisciplinary teams submitted their ideas.
On November 5, the five finalist groups presented their solutions to a judging panel including Dennis Clements, senior advisor at Duke Global Health Institute, and five other Duke faculty with relevant expertise. Following each presentation, the teams participated in question and answer sessions, inviting feedback from the judges to help them hone their solutions them just 48 hours later to OpenIDEO Fighting Ebola Challenge in Collaboration with the USAID for Fighting Ebola: A Grand Development Challenge. The opportunity to receive advice from experts in the field exemplifies the commitment Duke faculty has toward fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in Duke students.
The finalist teams’ ideas ranged from effectively cooling the body by targeting pulse points under the personal protective equipment worn by health care workers to using mobile technologies to find and track Ebola cases. The winning team presented a Patient Ebola Kit designed to decrease the risk health workers are exposed to when they enter and exit a patient’s room to get more supplies. Their kits will be stocked with back-up supplies and can be easily customized for the specific clinic’s needs. The winning idea can also be scaled to diseases beyond Ebola.