As part of my Master’s program at OCAD (in Strategic Foresight and Innovation) we completed a major project concurrently in our Business and Design Thinking and our Human Factors classes. With 3 other group members we set out to solve 2015’s Hult Prize challenge: Crowded Urban Spaces.

The brief outlines the challenge thus:
Participants will look for ways to leverage connectivity to make life for the dwellers of these spaces better.  Focus will be placed on doubling income through specifically better connecting the residents of these spaces to products, people, services and capital.

My team came up with the idea of combining connectivity with generic medicine. Through our extensive research, concentrating specifically on Nairobi, Kenya, Africa and South-East Asia we learned that many of the patents for name-brand drugs in this area of the world were expiring. This was opening up the generic medicine field in a way that had not been seen before (called a “patent cliff”). The only problem was that our research showed that the urban poor might not necessarily understand that generic medicine is equal in efficacy to name-brand medicine, only with sometimes a 90% discount.


We proposed to effectively double the income by enabling families to save money that would otherwise be spent on this more expensive alternative. Through a cost-savings model, a family’s income would be doubled, in that their expenses would be radically diminished.

In order to spread awareness and understanding we proposed having an SMS based service that would combine internationally recognized pictograms to ensure that it was accessible to all. We proposed working with NGOs, local clinics and doctors, offering information on where the closest clinic to would be (if you have a smart phone) or texting you the locations that are open that day.

The ionMeds website:


By creating an expereince map, we were able to identify that health was our key stakeholder’s main issue. (We named our key stakeholder Mary (see below)- one of the most common names in Africa)


Using a 3rd party prototyping tool, we created a prototype that helped us really nail down the interaction. We were able to do some local user testing on the flow of the app, but not with our target market.


3 different scenarios to use the app:


Stakeholder relationships – Macro level.


Stakeholder relationships – Micro level. Getting into the players in Mary’s daily life.


Mary was the main persona we uncovered in our research. She was the most in need, had the most responsibility and had the most potential and influence to improve the lives of others if her life was improved.


Journey map – Mary


Team ionMeds competed in the regional quarter finals at OCAD and came in the top 3. Our teachers encouraged us to enter the wild-card semi-final lottery but in the end we decided not to– personal and professional obligations had been put on hold while we worked on this intensive and rewarding project.




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