Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationNew York U.
Grant numberGr. 9808
Approve DateApril 30, 2019
Project TitleChadha, Anisha (New York U.) "Biodesign and MedTech Innovation: Studying Health Entrepreneurs in Globalizing India," supervised by Dr. Rayna Rapp.
ANISHA CHADHA, then a graduate student at New York University, New York, New York, was awarded funding in April 2019 to aid research on ‘Biodesign and Medtech Innovation: Studying Health Entrepreneurs in Globalizing India,’ supervised by Dr. Rayna Rapp. This dissertation research studied the emergence of Indian doctors, engineers, and designers forming startups to create novel medical devices, or ‘medtech.’ As biomedical devices produced through ‘Silicon Valley’ inspired business models are being increasingly used to manage and monitor health, and the current Indian administration shifts the burden of ‘hacking’ public health burdens onto citizen inventors, the grantee undertook research to probe tensions between elite, predominantly male, medtech entrepreneurs’ universalizing technocratic imaginaries and their locally designed products. This multi-sited study was grounded in medtech start-ups in Bangalore, India, as well as ‘biodesign’ laboratories across other Indian urban hubs (Delhi, Bombay, Chennai) and the US Bay Area through which entrepreneurs form teams, identify health needs, and experiment in device invention before entering the market. Participating firsthand in the medtech sector for fifteen months — brainstorming ideas, sourcing raw materials, testing prototypes, and marketing products with various startups — illuminated shifting cultural relationships between inventors, experimental test subjects, public health imperatives, and healthcare materialities. Research findings suggested that widely presumed North-South logics of technological innovation and biocapital flows are upended when medical devices are envisioned for and created within the Global South, as well as through Indian techies’ own migration between globally salient sites.