Population Health

September 23, 2020

Summer 2020 Social Entrepreneurship Fellows develop strategic roadmaps for UW innovations

Screen capture of fellows on their final Zoom presentationThe Population Health Initiative’s summer 2020 Social Entrepreneurship Fellows Program concluded in August with the fellows presenting their findings to students, faculty and staff from schools and colleges across campus. The fellows spent 10 weeks working on population health innovations developed by University of Washington researchers to determine how these innovations could be financially sustainable while also having a substantial societal impact.

The Social Entrepreneurship Fellows Program was developed in 2019 by the Population Health Initiative – in partnership with the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance and CoMotion – to expand opportunities for students from all disciplines to gain real-world experience in social entrepreneurship while providing UW investigators with a road-map to sustainability for their population health-related innovations. This year, the program was conducted remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This summer, students selected for the program were:

Name Degree Program School
Francis Abugbilla PhD Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
Preeyel Dalal Master of Business Administration Foster School of Business
Juan Osorio-Valencia Master of Public Health Department of Global Health
Samuel Pastor Master of Business Administration Foster School of Business

The fellow’s final presentations and reports offered the UW investigators a detailed analysis in customer discovery, markets, competitive landscapes and a final recommendation for a business model to move their projects forward.

  • PestiSeguro/PestiSafe – Abugbilla’s work with the Pestisafe/Pestiseguro app, which provides on-demand translation for pesticide labels into Spanish, led him to conclude that the app has tremendous potential to minimize risks and improve safety for Spanish-speaking pesticide handlers. He explored a number of business models by which the app might be able to generate revenue to become sustainable, including subscriptions, advertising, and funding from state agencies and foundations.
  • Central District Loan Program – Dalal spent the summer looking at how to improve access to capital for minority business owners, and explore whether the UW might have a part to play in addressing the barriers that minority business owners face in obtaining loans. Her work led to interviews with more than 45 stakeholders in various sectors, including fund managers, lenders, community connectors and government, all of whom agreed that the UW has a major role to play in solving the problem. Her work is being used by the UW’s Consulting and Business Development Center to move forward with creating the Foster Fund, which will enable better access to capital as well as training opportunities for minority business owners.
  • Global Water Labs – During the course of his project to understand how to best deploy technology developed by Global Water Labs to remove lead contamination in drinking water in U.S. schools, Osorio-Valencia quickly learned that the problem was not one that could be solved by technology alone. Conversations with a broad group of stakeholders, including a Washington state representative, a school board director, analysts at the Government Accountability Office, environmental health advocates and drinking water technologists revealed that technology solutions must go hand in hand with systemic changes that involve schools, policymakers, regulators and community advocates. Osorio-Valencia’s work identified a number of potential partners that Global Water Labs can collaborate with to ensure that their technology will have its intended impact.
  • Financial Reporting Tool for Public Health Agencies – With the coronavirus crisis bringing the importance of public health to the forefront, Pastor’s project with the Public Health Activities & Services Tracking (PHAST) team explored how a Uniform Chart of Accounts that tracks spending can help public health departments advocate for adequate funding for various public health programs. Pastor identified how PHAST might become well-positioned to collect and disseminate public health financial data that will enable agencies across the country to benchmark their spending and drive decision-making.

While the fellows all had primary responsibility for one project, the cohort structure enabled the students to work with each other and contribute their disciplinary expertise to all the other projects.

Learn more about this fellowship program by visiting its web page.