March Stammtisch @EPFL - Poverty, Humanitarian Crises and Conflicts: the Role of Science and Technology

#Technology #for #Humanity; #X-ray #imaging; #Humanitarian #Crises; #Conflicts

The IEEE EPFL Student Branch kindly invites you to participate to a free and hybrid March Stammtisch on 28th March 2022 at 18:00.

Science and Technology can and must play a role to drive development, humanitarian action and peace, but how can this be done? How can we maximize chances that a solution will achieve a real and lasting impact at large scale?

Technologies designed and deployed in high-income countries are often unable to deliver their full potential when transposed to poor or vulnerable contexts. The health sector is a key example where medical devices such as neonatal incubators or diagnostic X-ray systems are generally too expensive and fragile. The case of diagnostic X-ray imaging is particularly striking: 127 years after the discovery of x-rays by Röntgen, up to two-thirds of the world population still does not have access to radiology services. Yet X-ray radiology is a crucial instrument for diagnosing health issues ranging from trauma to tuberculosis. The mismatch between needs and available solutions originates from the inappropriateness of both the technology and the business models. A new approach is presented which relies on three crucial pillars: cooperation, interdisciplinarity and entrepreneurship. This approach has not only been successfully applied to the case of diagnostic x-ray imaging, where it has led to the creation of a start-up company, but also to projects in the domains of humanitarian action. Finally it is currently also starting to be applied in the new domain of PeaceTech.

The event will be followed by an apero.

  Date and Time




  • Date: 28 Mar 2022
  • Time: 06:00 PM to 07:30 PM
  • All times are (UTC+02:00) Bern
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  • Co-sponsored by IEEE Life Members Activity Group Switzerland


Dr. Klaus Schönenberger of EPFL EssentialTech Centre


Klaus Schönenberger obtained an MSc in Microengineering (1993), followed by a PhD (1996) from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). After a post-doctoral fellowship at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, he spent more than 11 years in the medical devices industry in leading positions, including as Vice-President of Worldwide R&D in a $100m company and Global Vice-Resident of Research and Technology in a $1bn company.

Motivated by concern about the huge imbalance in access to medical technology in industrialized versus low and middle-income countries, he left the industry in 2009 and co-founded the EssentialMed Foundation, an innovative non-profit venture.

In 2011, after realizing that both technology and business models needed a profound rethinking for true impact, he joined EPFL, where he launched EssentialTech. Several major Humanitarian actors such as the ICRC and MSF took notice of the unique approach proposed, which led to collaborations starting in 2015-16.

In May 2017, Klaus directed and launched a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) entitled “Technology Innovation for Sustainable Development” to help spread the methodology worldwide.

In 2018, Pristem SA, the first spin-off company created thanks to this new approach, was launched. This award-winning company will deploy an innovative digital x-ray imaging system, specifically designed for low-income contexts.

In December 2018, the EPFL presidency announced the creation of the EssentialTech Centre, where Klaus is now the Director. The Centre’s mission is to harness science and technology to drive sustainable development, humanitarian action and peace.