MIT Tata Center Researchers Unveil Inexpensive Way To Reduce Runoff Pollution By Adding Low Cost Polymers To Pesticide Spray


MIT researchers have found a way to make pesticides stick to leaves instead of bouncing off thereby reducing runoff pollution by using a clever combination of two inexpensive additives to the spray.


The spray is divided into two portions, each receiving a different polymer substance. One gives the solution a negative electric charge; the other causes a positive charge. When two of the oppositely-charged droplets meet on a leaf surface, they form a hydrophilic (water attracting) “defect” that sticks to the surface and increases the retention of further droplets.

The project was developed in collaboration with the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design, which aims to develop technologies that can benefit communities in India as well as throughout the developing world. Spraying of pesticides there is typically done manually with tanks carried on farmers’ backs, and since the cost of pesticides can be a significant part of a farmer’s budget, reducing the amount that’s wasted could improve the overall economics of the small-farming business, while also reducing soil and water pollution. Decreasing the amount of pesticide sprayed can also reduce the exposure of farmers to the spray chemicals.

Based on the laboratory tests, the team estimates that the new system could allow farmers to get the same effects by using only 1/10 as much of the pesticide or other spray. And the polymer additives themselves are natural and biodegradable, so will not contribute to the runoff pollution.

The new approach would require only minor changes to the existing equipment that farmers use, to separate the pesticide into two streams to which small amounts of each polymer could be added. The polymers themselves are extracted from common, low-cost materials that could be produced locally.


In addition to pesticide spraying, the same approach could be useful in other applications, such as the spraying of water onto plants to prevent frost damage in places like Florida, where citrus crops can be severely damaged by frost but water supplies are already constrained.

You Know What Will Always Be In Fashion? Quality, Affordable Solutions. Here’s Why.


Emerging Economies will always want Quality, Affordable solutions.

Developed Economies will increasingly ask for such solutions.

In the case of EU:

  • Brexit.
  • Banking crises.
  • The largest influx of refugees since World War II.
  • In April 2016, EU GDP finally became larger than it did at its peak before the financial crisis in 2008. So, it has taken eight years to recover. But the bloc also slipped back into deflation in April.
  • Also most EU countries are showing a bit of growth but this growth is mainly coming from domestic consumption. The issue here is that domestic consumption helps but doesn’t really solve the big elephant in the room, ie. Exports! Without exports gaining a proportionate share, the economic growth will always be slow.


The UK-based study by the Resolution Foundation found that people under 35 earned £8,000 less in their twenties than the previous generation. Part of the launch of a new Intergenerational Commission, the report warns of the “growing divide between a more prosperous older generation and a struggling younger generation.”



Even though US growth has done well compared to every other developed economy, economy expanded by just 1.2 percent in the second quarter of 2016 while the first-quarter expansion was revised down to 0.8 percent from an initial 1.1 percent estimate. And this happening when the labor market is at more or less full employment.

Public and private sector organisations, businesses and startups cannot anymore keep wishing that things will be back to “normal”. This is the “new normal”. They have to really start offering quality, accessible, affordable and sustainable solutions as part of their product portfolio.

5 Affordable Medical Technology Innovation Programs Aimed At Emerging Markets You Need To Know Right Now

Accessible, affordable and quality medical technologies are still not widely available in emerging economies where traditionally it has been so that medical technology products have always been imported from developed countries. But the way most companies from developed countries treat emerging markets has been very paternalistic. They are usually making a certain type of product(s) for both domestic and all international markets.

Most businesses from developed markets persisted in believing that “Finnish (swap with another developed country) design and engineering” was in itself enough to get the ball rolling and get branded as a great product. And almost in every case, these solutions are expensive because they are built by the best with the best of everything. Also, if one is designing, engineering and working on products largely sold in developed countries, then those solutions might not work in places with very different needs and infrastructure levels. There is obviously a market for some of these expensive solutions where there are no replaceable alternatives but especially in the healthcare and medical technology sector, startups and local businesses in emerging markets are beginning to challenge the status quo.

But now there are also efforts from innovation agencies, investors, entrepreneurs and premier universities from some of the leading developed countries to start co-creating such quality, accessible and affordable solutions.

I want to highlight 5 such programs that are helping make a difference and showing the way for others to follow in creating these frugal innovations.

Stanford-India Biodesign Program

Stanford India Biodesign

The Stanford India Biodesign program was launched to identify the need for affordable medical solutions in 2007. The concept was so that “the fellows” will spend months immersed in the interdisciplinary environment of Stanford Bio-X, learning the Biodesign process of researching clinical needs and prototyping a medical devices. Past fellows from the program have successfully launched 36 companies focused on developing devices for unmet medical needs. This program co-operation with India was ended in 2015 and in it’s place the International School For Biodesign was launched in New Delhi.

School of International Biodesign, All India Institute of Medical Sciences

School of International Biodesign

Started in 2015, the aim of School of International Biodesign is to train the next generation of medical technology innovators and create an ecosystem of frugal medical innovations. Outside of India, they are currently partnering with Stanford University, Cambridge University, Queensland University of Technology, Tottori University and Japan Federation of Medical Devices Associations to help them get to their goal. They do this via fellowships to co-create frugal medical technologies.

Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech), Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Global Health

CAMTech’s goal is to accelerate affordable medical technology innovation to improve health outcomes in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). They have been using hackathons as a way to generate ideas and solutions. In 2016 they launched the CAMTech Online Innovation Platform to address a critical gap in the medtech ecosystem by providing expertise, resources and targeted support to global health innovators. The online platform gives members access to Experts, Investors, Clinical Opportunities, Partners, Resources and Innovators. CAMTech has focussed activities so far in India and Uganda.



TechEmerge bills itself as a first of its kind matchmaking program for proven technology companies around the world that are looking to grow their business in emerging markets. The inaugural program in 2015-2016 connected innovators globally to healthcare providers in India to accomplish the dual goals of improving healthcare delivery and patient outcomes. The program is operated by IFC (a member of the World Bank Group) with funding also coming from the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE) and the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry. TechEmerge is run in partnership with Health 2.0

Pears Program for Global Innovation’s Med4Dev Hackathon


The India-Israel Med4Dev Hackathon is putting together innovators, entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals, designers, engineers, programmers and business professionals over a three day period in up to four locations (Tel Aviv, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai) in order to develop innovative ideas and prototype solutions (hardware and software) to address healthcare challenges of low and lower-middle income communities in India. The program will be having it’s main activities in July 2016.

As you can see most of the affordable medical technology innovations are being piloted in India with CAMTech also focusing on Uganda. The reason I believe is:

  • There is a lot of enthusiasm at the government level
  • There seems to be good professional and personal connections between individuals and organisations that are organising these programs
  • Last but not least, India is big and diverse enough with skilled engineeers/doctors/innovators as well as huge number of people with un-met medical needs to have it as a lead market to test these affordable medical solutions.