Partnering with the Gates Foundation to Solve a $6 Billion Sustainable Sanitation Challenge

Client: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
When our partner needed to better understand the market opportunity for improved sanitation around the world, we blended quantitative and qualitative approaches to define the potential size of the need, identify stakeholders who act as decision-makers and influencers, and gain insight into how users perceive new solutions.

Challenge: improve Sanitation in Developing World

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation wanted to address the need for improved sanitation in the developing world. Through their Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, they called on global experts and organizations to create sustainable solutions for the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to safe, affordable sanitation. The Gates Foundation needed assistance to accelerate the development and commercialization of the resulting technologies.

RTI Innovation Advisors created the Sanitation Technology Platform (STeP) to support Gates Foundation grantees through a holistic approach that addresses technical, market, and nonmarket factors in parallel. STeP - a global collaboration of organizations, universities, and experts - delivers expertise to and supports partners and the broader sanitation community who are invested in testing and commercializing technologies.

Providing Insights to Develop Products that Meet Needs

STeP provides field testing, market intelligence, and user insights to help inventors and industry develop products and services that address market and consumer needs.

More specifically:

  • Our field testing platform in India assessed three toilet systems for more than 10,000 hours. Our findings enabled partners to refine their technologies in response to performance in a real-world testing environment, thereby increasing their potential for successful commercialization and global health impact.
  • STeP’s market intelligence studies help inform critical elements of the business plan for transformative technologies, including Reinvented Toilets and Omni Processor technologies, highlighting market size, market segments, customer profiles, and go-to-market considerations. This insight reduces the risk to organizations that are commercializing sanitation technologies and enables them to move quickly.

In addition, STeP helped the Gates Foundation identify potential partners to take transformative sanitation technologies to market.

Read more about our STeP work.