Healthcare Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Impact: Creating a Resilient, Safe and Crowd-based Innovation System

  • Oliveira, Pedro (PI)
  • Santos, Filipe (Professor Catedrático)
  • Canhão, Helena (Investigador)
  • Rodrigues, Ana (Investigador)
  • Esteves, Ana (Investigador)
  • Cunha, Avelino (Investigador)
  • Santos, Catarina (Investigador)
  • Zejnilovic, Leid (Investigador)
  • Jacinto, Maria João (Investigador)
  • Sousa, Rute (Investigador)

Detalhes do projeto


We argue that there is a general need for a more resilient, crowd-based, bottom-up and high-impact system of innovation that can help address emerging health related needs and propose the basis to build such system.
User innovators are the ones who have developed a new product/service for own use (or modified an existing one). They differ from producer innovators for whom profit is the dominant motivation to innovate. Previous research has shown that patients, and their informal caregivers, often develop innovative solutions to help them cope with difficulties associated with their health condition, and these solutions frequently improve the quality of life of the patient innovators or their caregivers. If shared, these innovations can
significantly impact the lives of others living under similar conditions. Following these findings, we established Patient Innovation (PI), an award-winning online platform ( aimed at facilitating the sharing of solutions developed by patients, informal caregivers and collaborators. Since its launch, 1200 innovations were submitted and approved after medical screening, from a community of 100.000 patients/caregivers from more than 100 countries (about 1,2 million people visit the site per year).
As an example, in the ongoing pandemic crisis, and during a short period of time, over 90 innovative solutions to help cope with COVID-19 were submitted to the platform (see, including open-source ventilators (and ventilator-masks and valves), protection masks, solutions to cope w/ hygiene, isolation, food supply, among other.
Sometimes “user innovators” realize that their innovations have a significant market potential and decide to become producers, i.e. they become "user entrepreneurs. For example, Nick Woodman, the inventor and founder of GoPro initially developed the camera for his own use and only later decided to bring it to market. User entrepreneurship has been found to be relevant in a variety of industries, including healthcare and medical technologies. In this study we focus on healthcare and investigate the factors that influence the decision of patient/caregiver innovators to develop their own ventures and become entrepreneurs. Apart from product/market related dimensions, we will investigate some innovator-related factors, such as how the innovator opportunity costs influence the decision of patient/caregiver innovators to move forward with their ventures. More specifically, we attempt to answer the following research questions:
How can we build a resilient, crowd-based, system of innovation that can help address emerging health-related needs? How can we increase the clinical value of those innovations developed by the crowd and quickly scale them globally: How can we measure the impact of the innovations developed by the “common citizens”. Which factors facilitate the diffusion and commercialization of patient innovations? What influences patient innovators to start their own firms and become “patient entrepreneurs”.
In addition to answering these questions, we have the ambition of building the ‘Patient Innovation Accelerator (PIA)’ to help patients/caregivers to technically improve their solutions (using 3D printing, IT, AI tools, etc, depending on the kind of support they needs). The PIA will help innovators to accelerate their innovative solutions and develop them from an idea to a final tested, approved and commercialized product through scale-up and dissemination programs, so more people can benefit from them. The Accelerator will be built upon the Patient Innovation platform. Ultimately we expect to remove persisting barriers of the “innovation process” across the healthcare chain, namely by building upon the knowledge of multidisciplinary teams, bridging the chasm between networks of people (the users), networks of facilitators (acceleration, co-creation, business-coaching) and networks of knowledge (research communities & investment capital) through an all-in-one collective awareness, facilitator and productive movement program.
We also expect to foster individual and collective awareness of the innovative power of patients, non-professional caregivers and collaborators through the sharing of health-related solutions they have developed and by bringing those players to the centre of the process. This will be achieved with the support of the Patient Innovation platform, a growing digital platform that connects citizens worldwide. Our project will be advised by the Advisory Board of Patient Innovation, includes two Nobel Laureates, among other reputable scientists.
In conclusion, the project Citizens4Heatlh has the ambition to build a resilient, bottom-up, crowd-based (i.e. from the people/users/households), and high-impact system of innovation that can help address emerging health related needs. Such a system can result in quick, low-cost and high-value innovations.
Data de início/fim efetiva29/03/218/03/24


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