Saturday, October 11, 2008

Next steps...

It has been a long journey, but at last I've finished my PhD transfer thesis and successfully passed the transfer viva examination. This means that I have the official blessings of the department to continue my research before writing and submitting a final thesis and defending my work in yet another excruciating oral examination.

I think people who sign up to do PhD's must be complete masochists and crazy nutcases.

I've never written such a long document in my life (176 pages in total), nor has my work been placed under such scrutiny as it was in the viva. I am honored, pleased and relieved that I've passed this stage gate for the degree program, and I am anxious to get going with the new work I'll be doing to complete the research. There also appears to be the opportunity for a number of publications to come out of my work. Wish me luck!

With regards to new ideas and new paradigms for healthcare, I'm excited about the London Entrepreneurs' Challenge 2008/09 as a playground and testbed for fleshing out some ideas I have, and I recently attended the kick-off session and first workshop for the competition.

I asked the program organizer, Mr. Tim Barnes, about the viability of not-for-profit organizations in a competition such as this and he responded that there are many similarities in start up and operation of a for-profit company and a not-for-profit charity regardless of what the organization does with its "profits" at the end of the day.

The competition is the result of a colloboration between UCL and the London Business School, and I hope to meet business-minded folks who also share the passion to improve the access and quality of healthcare in the world.

Some initial ideas I have include:
  • Open source medicine -
    Are there ways incorporate the spirit of the open source software movement to medical device, drug and procedure development?
  • Public research -
    I've seen the escalation of the IP arms race with even universities participating in the whole "patent everything" hysteria. But I've also seen companies discard good ideas because they couldn't get "exclusive rights" to it. Could medical device "charities" be formed to sweep up and develop good ideas that corporations won't touch with a 10-foot (3 meter) pole? Could this help expand truly public research unemcumbered by IP restrictions?
  • Economies of scale -
    Part of the reason why medical devices cost so much are because of the small volumes involved in their production. Could excess production capacity be used to produce devices sold near cost for charity to second and third-world nations where these companies don't have a commercial presence but desire to get a foothold into these nascent markets? Perhaps this could be a consultancy to help commercial companies establish a charity arm or explore and administer the charitable operations for them?
  • C-to-C networks -
    There are a number of business-to-business networking services that oil the cogs for businesses to work together and colloborate. Are there similar services for charities?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave me a comment here, or email me directly.


Blogged with the Flock Browser