There are 7 billion people in this world now. While some people see this large population to be a problem, some other people see this as a massive opportunity. For instance, if you manage to solve a common problem faced by lets say 4 billion people out of 7 billion, and pave the way to a commercial product that can make just 1-pence of profit per person per day on average, that product makes 365p * 4 billion per year. That is £14.6 billion of profit per year. However, these common problems that make such low profit margins are so mundane and most people may not notice the basic research that can lead to such products.
An example of a successful commercial venture by a student who started to think about technologies for humanitarian demining with me at Harvard.
Therefore, I prefer if students could first identify such a problem that you have experienced yourself, and have a chat will me. To help you draft the proposal, please follow the general guidelines given here, and follow this structure.
1. Write a clear problem statement. Clearly indicate the scope of focus. Ex. To develop a mobile signal processing device that can help farmers to listen to crunching activity of red weevil larvae in palm trees, by filtering out other similar sounds like activity of other insects, twist of the tree trunk due to wind, water transportation in the cambium. Please note, here, we don’t say that the device will detect the presence of red weevil larvae, but only help the farmer to detect it by providing a filtered signal.
2. Write a brief abstract showing the methods and approach you will take to address the above problem statement.
3. Indicate several milestones that you can use to check the progress of the project.
I recommend you to have a look at the following projects:
1. New ways to design comfortable prosthetic legs for amputees.
2. Passive dynamic walkers to destroy landmines.
3. Training rats to detect landmines.
4. Robots to clean up oil spills.
Some choices of projects already suggested: