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Global Health & Innovation Conference

“Social entrepreneurship” is a buzzword that has been floating around a lot of do-gooder conferences and Web sites. For a while, calling yourself a social entrepreneur seemed like enough to draw funding and prestige, but more and more investors want to know what works, what’s sustainable, and what unintended consequences there might be. At the Global Health & Innovation Conference, hosted in New Haven, Connecticut, by the not-for-profit Unite for Sight, experts will discuss these challenges, which pop up in various forms. One example: Western hospitals often donate old equipment to hospitals in developing nations. “How do you compete with free?” asks Timothy Prestero, CEO of Design That Matters and a conference speaker. It’s not just a philosophical question for him. His firm taps engineering and design students to help solve developing-world problems. He points out that most donated equipment fails within five years because of power outages or high humidity. “Donations are free,” he says, “but they come with a lot of embedded problems.” — EW

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