Purposeful Entrepreneurship:
Innovate 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 and tackle major health burdens such as chronic diseases, mental health crises and violence, food insecurity and malnutrition, misinformation, and growing inequalities.

In Purposeful Entrepreneurship: Innovate for Societal Health, you will learn about the scientific and economic opportunities unique to innovating in these problem areas. Guest speakers, ranging from inspiring founders to impact investors, will share their journeys and how their work addresses these planetary and societal health challenges.

You also will learn by doing via a team-based project that will be developed throughout the course. 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 foundations for building a purpose-driven start-up and mission-aligned organization.

Working and studying will be done in teams. Students will form teams during the first two weeks of class and select an opportunity area with the guidance of the class instructors. Or you may join the class as a team if you are already working on an idea.

To apply for the spring 2022 offering of Purposeful Entrepreneurship: Innovate for Societal Health, please complete the online application by March 20. Enrollment will be capped at 25 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
Purposeful Entrepreneurship: Innovate for Societal Health
Course number(s) Quarter(s)
Schedule Units
1:30-4:30 pm
Eligible students
Enrollment information
By application
Learning goals
  • Learn about purpose-driven entrepreneurship and driving systemic change.
  • Explore topics of societal health, including health equity, misinformation, food security, affordable housing, Medicaid population needs, preventive healthcare, mental health, the intersection of climate change and sustainability with global health, and more.
  • Learn the fundamentals of the need-driven biodesign innovation process, and use this approach to help you navigate the ambiguity of addressing complex problems and developing uncertain solutions.
  • Increase your creative confidence, ideation, and prototyping skills.
  • Improve your team collaboration, public speaking, and presentation skills.