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Energizing the Role of Youth in Healthcare Innovation: A Policy Perspective

Abstract

Profound insights have been gained over the last decade in promoting innovation among the general public to advance their skills and creativity towards entrepreneurship, innovation and knowledge. The interrelation has produced a comprehensive understanding towards advancing economic growth. Entrepreneurship has been a greatly achieved concept among the youth in the past decade and the promotion of commercialising of their innovations has been the utmost priority of the government which not only is limited to the corporate sector but has been promoted among academic institutes as well. Over time this has brought great achievements of technology and creativity for economic development of a country especially by the youth. From young academicians to scientists and students, many innovative technologies have been established for commercialising as they have been given the role and flexibility in being an entrepreneur in the growth process. However, policy implications have been weak in developing nations. Important policies and implications towards design regulations, knowledge productions, financial markets have been the entry barriers towards strategizing commercialising development and supporting the youth who would want to venture out with their business and innovative ideas for start-ups. The government should be implementing policies towards targeting market needs of their own country, understanding the relationship between requirement, growth and entrepreneurship. The present article discusses a strategy and policy implementation plan to help youth promote commercialising of technologies.

Introduction

Entrepreneurship and innovation has been contributing  towards the wealth of a nation and strategically uplifting the economy. The act of creating, innovating and setting up business relies on meticulous planning of the product/services, processes to be offered and to develop growth strategies to benefit the economy, develop the community and create jobs. High risks involved in launching a start-up makes the process difficult for those who cannot invest, want to invest but don’t want to risk finances or who would want to invest but don’t know the strategy of business and process building. This way the nation’s growth is “stunted” and innovations are shunned. In lieu of the above factors proper finance/investments planning, introducing start-up concepts in curriculums, community needs, programs promoting innovations and challenges should be at the utmost priority of the government as well the private firms if any economic rise is desired (Lall 2004). For this, the youth of every developing nation should be exposed to solve nation-specificproblems for e.g. technology to utilize agricultural waste in Asia, or early detection of malnutrition in Africa etc. (Desjarlais & Eisenberg 1995). Therefore, this paper will open up a few strategies of how to involve problems into solutions, emphasizing on health care sector needs including rural and semi-urban areas.

Entrepreneurship: the driver of economic development

For several decades, entrepreneurship has played a major role in economic development which has proved to be an essential factor in jobs. The government has developed a number of strategies to make young people aware of their ideas. Their primary purpose is to expand a nation’s economy (Sarasvathy 2001, Hurst 2016). This has made way for marketing and GDP growth and has allowed young entrepreneurs to govern the business market. This will not only improve the living lifestyle of individuals but will generate new goods and services for associated individuals (Aparicio et al 2016). In the first few days entrepreneurs used equity sources to start up their business by taking loans from banks. Developed companies have created wealth, added economic value and the nation’s industrial structure. This generated economic growth directly. This also helped to reduce the gap between less developed regions. The companies provided insights into the requirements of less developed regions and developed the global infrastructure to build a more dynamic economy (Deal 2017). However, the important aspects which still need to be addressed are:  1. Prepare and educate young people for economic development through entrepreneurship and innovation; 2. Establish government and private partnerships for investments; 3. Lay emphasis and work on developing less developed rural areas as assets for economic growth, in particular in the healthcare sector.

Innovative strategies to design policies for initiating youth entrepreneurship

Start-up initiatives should be promoted by the government especially through mentoring, nurturing and facilitating start-up among academics (Colombo 2016, Leigh 2016). The past years have seen a boom in commercialising of ideas whether it is web-based start-up or technology commercialising. To make the younger generation aware, government and institutions can plan  comprehensive short free online learning programs,  visits to incubator centers, create exemplary talks from young entrepreneurs across the globe in order to have their own youth get inspired and see ways of executing their ideas (Shirokova 2018). To start the wave of ideas, especially among low-income countries of Africa and Asia, funds should be created to build an ecosystem of at least getting students to initiate the spark of ideas. They, therefore, will be more confident and flexible in opening themselves up and willing to at least think of taking risks. With their timely growth, they should be mentored on more innovation focused programs, tax benefits and address regulatory issues.

Supporting endogenous technologies transforms a nation’s creativity into a global design. Creative ideas, technology development, designs and manufacturing should be supported by the government for their citizens, business leaders and potential partners across the globe. This way, the investors around the world should be roped in to study the outdated processes and policies and centralize information about opportunities offered in one country.

Africa and Asia have an abundance of raw materials, resources, and meticulous hardworking people willing to work.  They  can all be put to good use if the youth are inspired to commercialise their business ideas or prototypes. This way the government will be less burdened and have more productive citizens especially the young population. These initiatives can ensure replacement of outdated and obstructive frameworks and help build more transparent user-friendly systems. The well-planned procedure can procure global investments, foster creative and new innovations, develop skills among youth and protect intellectual property rights of the country. Every developing nation can access the best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure.

Innovative mission for the health care sector should aim at endeavoring innovation and entrepreneurship. Government should support youth innovation, grand challenges particularly technology driven areas and laboratories which can support innovation tasks. Health care sector employs fields such as science, engineering, clinical areas, public health, social science and economy (Bason 2018). A multidisciplinary area field, health care sector has seen an uplifting economic status with innovations solving the disease state (Miles 2016). Health requirements through invention of novel medical devices, biosensor, IoT based technology to solve hypertension among women and unborn children, introducing point-of-care-devices (Nayak 2016) with multi-use mobile lab designs as there is lack of infrastructural as well as technological advancements in lesser developed regions. Even though many regions, such as India, have  redrafted its guidelines of employing business strategies and commercialising of these areas, there is still a need to adapt to present-day needs such as supporting self-employment among the youth in rural and semi urban areas. The initiative has brought huge changes in lifestyle of the rural areas and among its youth, but still there is a need of a push of awareness as the initiative still has not reached every corner of the country.

To get the youth into action to innovate health care sector, a few strategic planning strategies can be incorporated:

  1. Survey- the need-of-the hour for health-based innovations. that can be implemented such as creating cost-effective testing strips for malaria, AIDS, thyroid, diabetes etc., mobile based technology for monitoring and evaluation of health and nutrition, trackers for preventing chronic disease etc.
  2. Once the important need of the nation is identified, incubator labs need to be set up to work and innovate specific types of prototypes with the presence of sectoral experts, business planning support, provide seed capital and industry partners to help them create their inventions.
  3. Women should be trained and employed in formal skill training facilities especially in rural areas of developing nations in lieu of hospitality, nursing, computer and IT services at primary health care centers. This way women will be promoted to start their own training programs, empower other women and commercialise their skills.

Entrepreneurship, innovation and youth start-ups in health care sector

World over, to promote youth entrepreneurship and innovation programs, the government is the strongest “agency” which can influence initiative and institute policy measures to foster the business culture. Especially in developing nations, job creation is the foremost challenge since they have unique demographic advantages and potential to innovate, raise entrepreneurs and truly understand the need of-the-hour. Developing nations, if promoted by their government to enter the health care sector, have immense potential to innovate, raise entrepreneurs and create jobs (Kelly 2017). Technology is what can bridge the gap among the urban, semi-urban and rural regions. For this the youth can be recruited to provide endogenous solutions to what is required and work on building the concept of “local products” Health care  is a sector where the  boom is likely if properly understood. A wide spectrum of new health care programs and opportunities should be established to nurture innovation in this sector. This can only be done if the government 1. Highlights the need of their rural community; 2. Engages academia; 3. Connects industry to academia and; 4. Provide investors to the youth who fit for entrepreneurship skills. This way the growth and prosperity of the country is ensured that policy initiatives of the government are likely to be geared up for young people coming up with unique ideas, showcasing their skills and enabling the country’s growth and prosperity. The government should seek to develop strategies by providing easy policy loans, networks, market, consultation and training to the youth at their academia phase. The most cited examples of the health care sector boom is the invention of rapid sensors, automated analyzers, disease prediction through Internet-of-Things (IoT), interaction among clinicians, researchers and students to address their requirements, workshops with public health experts etc. Thorough surveys of the requirements of the rural sector should be promoted and awareness created so that it is a win-win situation from establishing one’s idea for business as well as solving and involving the community’s needs.

Targeting rural healthcare sector

With continuous rise in the young population in developing nations, “state of the youth” needs to be capitalised. Issues on environmental health, health state, pregnancy, non-communicable diseases should be addressed to the youth in order for them to curb the demand of poor or low-income regions as they lack proper health care infrastructure. Targeting the rural health care sector will prove to be a valuable asset rather than liability. The young workforce has more innovative minds and can be put to work to enhance the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors (DiMasi 2016). It is important that the government initiates and makes it essential for the entire population to contribute significantly in diverse areas and ultimately towards economic growth.

An innovative disruptive health care delivery system can begin from the rural sector. The RURBAN initiative of developing villages should use innovative medical manpower management in primary health care centers.  Medical health should be the first priority to 1. Scrutinize the population and design inventions to collect and distribute data, SMS reminders; 2. Invent cost-effective biosensors/strips for faster diagnosis of diseases; 3. Introduce mobile medical labs in areas where there is a lack of hospitals; 4. Launch  online NGOs that can provide video conferencing to interact with the poor. Although seeming to be an optimistic project, if the need is introduced to the youth, their entrepreneurial lead can  provide solutions needed to develop new healthcare policies. Although standardization of the methods and strategy requires long time to complete, the services can also be made compulsory to doctors, let the requirement of the poor people be known and the government in return can benefit in terms of huge financial benefits.

Conclusion

Developing nations have advantage of availability of a young population which can be tuned to achieving goal policies towards innovative thinking, commercialising their ideas and harnessing a country’s economy ahead of double digits. Rural population creates demand and is largely ignored. The population can be involved, treated and create employment opportunities if health care innovations are brought in. Provision of providing innovative solutions of health care affordability of treatment and diagnostic cost can be propelled by introducing production of medical devices, drugs, surgical equipment at cost-effective price. This largely requires young researchers, academics and even individuals to come forward and meet consulting scientists and doctors. They should join hands to develop strategies to improvise community needs. For this, the government can play a crucial role and initiate a model rural health care system by introducing healthcare entrepreneurs with cross-border collaborations.

References:

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About the author

Varsha Singh

Varsha Singh

Dr. Varsha Singh is presently Assistant professor from Chitkara University. She completed PhD in Molecular Biology, Biochemistry from Panjab University, Chandigarh in 2015. Dr. Varsha is also the CEO, and Founder/Director of Medzak Healthcare Pvt. Ltd. Her academic career spans for over 5.5 years and she has established Centre for Life Sciences, Molecular Biology & Bioinformatics Division at Chitkara University. Her lab focuses on biomarker discovery and network analysis of signaling events in organ cross-talk in non-communicable diseases such as Cardio-Renal and Diabetes/Nephropathy. Her work also focuses on designing machine learning based algorithms on protein networks. Dr. Varsha also established her company in the year 2018. Her Delhi based start-up has been funded under the Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG)-BIRAC, Govt. of India. Her start-up innovates in portable, cost-effective, handheld medical devices, and presently she is designing an ocular device for rural and semi-urban areas.

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