Technology Innovation for Development and Humanitarian Action

EssentialTech Center is attached to EPFL’s Vice Presidency for Research. Its goal is to develop essential technologies that have the potential to reduce poverty and vulnerability. Its approach combines technology development with the elaboration of innovative business models for a sustainable and large-scale impact.

Our Philosophy

EssentialTech is a place for dynamic exchanges stimulating innovation which arises from transdisciplinary collaborations on aspects related to technologies, socio-economic contexts and deployment strategies.

A Robust X-Ray Machine

A large alliance led by EssentialTech has developed an affordable X-Ray machine adapted to harsh conditions.

An Advanced Prosthetic Foot

In alliance with the ICRC, Essentialtech and several EPFL labs developed a low cost prosthetic foot.


In low income settings as well as in humanitarian contexts, the scarcity in quality infrastructure, in financial resources, in qualified personnel, together with extreme environmental conditions, create a challenging environment for technologies.


A methodology has been developed to meet these particular needs. It is based on five elements:

  1. Identification and understanding of needs for essential technologies
  2. Close collaboration with local partners
  3. Technology innovations and value chain adapted to the context
  4. Sustainable solutions through a viable business model
  5. Large-scale impact via entrepreneurship

Technologies in these categories are essential for sustainable development and humanitarian action.

Humanitarian Tech Hub

Resulting of a partnership between the International Committee of the Red-Cross (ICRC) and EPFL, the Humanitarian Tech Hub has been designed for humanitarian actors, researchers and other players willing to mobilize cutting edge research to address today’s humanitarian challenges.

The Hub aims to build upon the approaches already adopted while developing and deploying innovative and appropriate solutions for humanitarian action.

Find Us

Station 10
1015 Lausanne (Switzerland)


Office: CM 1368

Contact: essentialtech [at]

Tel: +41 21 693 60 61