Biodesign and Entrepreneurship
for Societal Health


Purposeful Entrepreneurship

Addressing the social and environmental drivers of health is a new frontier of innovation.

Advances in this area will allow us to improve global and public health at scale to better tackle major health burdens such as chronic diseases, mental health crises, food insecurity and malnutrition, misinformation, and growing inequalities. In Biodesign and Entrepreneurship for Societal Health, you will learn about the practical, scientific, and economic opportunities unique to innovating in these problem areas.

Apply now!

During the interactive, project-based course, over 40 expert guest speakers and mentors, including inspiring social entrepreneurs, impact investors, researchers, and global health leaders, will share their journeys and how their work addresses societal health challenges. Interact and learn from speakers from the following organizations:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Zuckerberg Chan Initiative
  • Verily
  • Healthtech for Medicaid (HTFM)
  • Flourish Labs
  • Health equity start-ups, including Equalize Health, Step One Foods, Emme, Simprints, Nana Academy        
  • California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)
  • Stanford Medicine
  • And more!

In addition to lectures and discussions about important topics like global health, the social determinants of health, and the impact of climate change on health, students will learn through experience. The experiential component of this class is about rolling up your sleeves, forming teams, researching and reframing societal health problems, and developing technology solutions to address them. 

Using the Biodesign innovation process, you will deeply understand important unmet needs, interview a range of stakeholders and potential customers, generate insights on the problems you are tackling, conduct brainstorming and ideation sessions, develop product prototypes, and test your solutions to develop a product or service that people want, and that society needs.

By engaging with our speakers and through your project experience, you will learn about innovation areas, partnerships, business models, and funding sources to improve health equity and societal health at scale. You also will learn how to lay the foundation for building a purpose-driven start-up and mission-aligned organization. Students will be a part of teams tackling societal health issues and will be provided with expert mentors to help them through the class and in innovating to create a concept to fill an unmet need. Deliverables are focused on classroom activities and team presentations.

Applications for the winter 2025 offering of Biodesign for Societal Health will come out later this year and are due at the end of November 2024.

Enrollment will be capped at 30 students and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so we encourage you to apply early!

This course is offered as part of the Biodesign-Emergence Partnership. Learn more about Emergence online.

Course title
Biodesign and Entrepreneurship for Societal Health
Course number(s) Quarter(s)
Schedule Units
3:00-5:30 pm
Eligible students
Open to Graduates (recommended)
and Undergraduates
Enrollment information
By application
Learning goals
  • Learn about purposeful entrepreneurship for improving societal health (e.g. health equity, addressing misinformation, food security, affordable housing, Medicaid population needs, preventive healthcare, pandemic, mental health, intersection of climate change and sustainability with global health, and more).
  • Put your learnings into practice by using the Biodesign innovation process. Interview stakeholders and users, and navigate the ambiguity of complex problems and uncertain solutions. Develop business models and development strategy for your product, service offering, and organization. 
  • Increase your creative confidence, ideation, and prototyping skills.
  • Improve your team collaboration, public speaking, and presentation skills.