Tag: Social Innovation Lab

Meet the Entrepreneur

Meet the Entrepreneur: Intelehealth’s Neha Goel Increasing Global Access…

More than 400 million people around the world lack access to basic health care because they live in rural underserved communities with no doctor nearby. This leads to people delaying care, traveling long distances to reach a physician and spending large amounts of time and money to get the care they need.

Intelehealth, a nonprofit in the Social Innovation Lab at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, is developing low bandwidth telemedicine technologies to improve access to primary health care for these underserved populations.

Its co-founder and CEO Neha Goel, a Ph.D. candidate in Health Informatics at The Johns Hopkins University, is an experienced entrepreneur in the health care sector. She founded Global Protect Dental in 2011 to introduce cutting edge dental technologies to dentists in India, and led the company as CEO until 2015.

In between her studies and entrepreneurship, Goel took time to answer our questions about Intelehealth, her Baltimore support system and her favorite places in the city. Take a look!

In a few words, what does your company do?
Improve access to comprehensive primary healthcare through telemedicine.

(Editor’s note: Check out the video below to learn more about Intelehealth.)

What are your goals, and how will you get there?
Our goal for the coming year is to improve access to health for a quarter million people by partnering with grassroots-level health organizations and setting up telemedicine programs.

Why have you chosen Baltimore as your startup’s home?
Because of the incubation support we have received at Johns Hopkins as students. Also the proximity to the global health policy makers, funders and health organizations that are based in Washington, D.C. make it a great place to grow a nonprofit focused on global health.

What opportunities make it a good place for growing a business?
It’s heartening to see the startup ecosystem growing in Baltimore. The access to some of the leading health systems in the world make it a unique place to have a health-tech startup. When you add translational programs like the Maryland Innovation Initiative, TEDCO’s Propel Baltimore Fund and accelerator programs, it makes for a nidus for innovative businesses.

In terms of startups and innovation, what’s one thing that separates Baltimore from other tech hotbeds?
I would say it’s unique in that so much innovation is happening at different universities like Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Investment in these universities is fostering strong on-campus startup ecosystem.

If you could give your past self one piece of advice for creating a startup, what would it be?
Fail fast. An entrepreneur lives in a world of failure. Get comfortable with it, learn quickly and learn when to let go of a bad idea.

What book are you currently reading?
To Pixar and Beyond by Lawrence Levy.

What innovator do you look up to? Why?
I think the most impactful innovations of our time cannot be attributed to just one person – innovation is a team sport. For example, an innovation team I look up to is that of Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Jony Ive. For an idea to be successful, it really needs a team of very smart people who have bought into a common vision and who work well together. At Intelehealth we’re all about team-based innovation.

It’s after a long day of work, and you don’t feel like cooking. What is your go-to Baltimore restaurant?
Oh my gosh, there are far too many! Food is a religion. Golden West Cafe, The Helmand, Thai Arroy, Ban Thai, One World Cafe, Saigon Today and, for dessert, Marie Louise Bistro.

What’s your favorite nonwork-related thing to do in Baltimore?
Do Yoga and meditate. There are a lot of great meetups and places in Baltimore. I lead a meditation meetup every Saturday in Canton and have met the most incredible people!

Want to learn more about the Social Innovation Lab? Click here!

Social Ventures

Anyone an Innovator: A More Inclusive Approach to Social…

By Darius Graham, Director, Social Innovation Lab

Darius Graham - Social Innovation LabWhether in business or in the social impact sector, it is common to think of innovation as a breakthrough, disruptive idea rooted in new technology. Perhaps it brings to mind the Model T, the iPhone or a polio vaccine.

This view of innovation as the height of creativity, a stroke of genius or a state of brilliance to be sought and possessed by the best and brightest among us, provides only a limited view of what innovation is and who can claim it.

Recently in the social impact sector, conversations have moved from discussions of social innovation (creating solutions to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than current solutions) to inclusive innovation. This concept of inclusive innovation recognizes that innovation, especially in our sector, can come from anywhere and from anyone — not just those traditionally with access to funding or education, which is typically viewed as the pathway to innovation.

This inclusive approach to social innovation recognizes that an individual studying a particular issue may devise a creative solution to a problem, but also that a person suffering from that problem who may have no formal training on the issue but notably the lived experience, may also offer a creative solution.

Inclusive innovation recognizes as innovators both the individual who creates a smartphone app connecting people to rides in neighborhoods lacking reliable public transportation, as well as the individual who organizes a neighborhood carpool system to do the same.

When we use the language of innovation in a way that denotes only an ingenious breakthrough or eureka moment that happens in a lab or boardroom by people with certain credentials, we leave out many others who we may not see or who may not see themselves as innovators.

Thus the problem is twofold. First, the general language around social innovation has certain connotations of pedigree, education, and expertise. Second, those who are directly affected by an issue or are closer to the issue may not see themselves as having the credentials to offer a creative solution.

In a world where so many challenges exist and so many people are in need, we as a sector should be deliberate and thoughtful in the way we identify and celebrate social innovation and social innovators.

When we recognize something as a social innovation or someone as a social innovator, we are, deliberately or not, including some to the exclusion of others. I’ve witnessed how the language of social innovation can lead some to question whether they are in or out. When recruiting applicants for the Social Innovation Lab at Johns Hopkins University, one of the most common questions I get is some version of, “Is my idea innovative enough?”

Ashoka’s slogan, “Everyone a changemaker” offers a model for how we can think about inclusive social innovation. Reflecting on this mission in a piece for the Innovations journal, Ashoka founder Bill Drayton wrote:

The millennia when only a tiny elite could cause change is coming to an end. A generation hence, probably 20 to 30 percent of the world’s people, and later 50 to 70 percent, not just today’s few percent, will be changemakers and entrepreneurs. That world will be fundamentally different and a far safer, happier, more equal, and more successful place.

“Anyone an innovator” should be the unifying mission of our sector. A mission that leads us to empower the innovation potential of individuals and invest in organizations like Hero Lab and Mission: Launch that actively engage and celebrate that potential. This mission can help us create a world where anyone feels empowered to use his or her experience and background — whether rooted in academic study, life experience, or some mix of both — to offer a new vision of how we address social challenges.

Want to learn more about the Social Innovation Lab at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures? Click here!


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