Cart 0

About Us

See Our Gifts

Design that Matters (DtM) is a nonprofit design company based in Cambridge, MA. Our mission is to create products that improve the services of social enterprises in developing countries. DtM leverages the skills and intellectual capital of hundreds of volunteers in academia and industry to create breakthrough solutions for communities in need. Our goal is to empower our clients to deliver a better quality of service and a better quality of life to one million beneficiaries in the next five years.


Our mission is to create products that improve the services of social enterprises in developing countries.


In 2001, graduate students at the MIT Media Lab launched Design that Matters as a design studio and seminar course for fellow students looking to connect their education to real needs in poor communities. The DtM founders believed that the university system could become a catalyst for the creation of new tools to better serve basic needs in developing countries. The seminar course was a smash success, but proved difficult to scale as an extracurricular student project. In 2003, Timothy Prestero and Neil Cantor committed themselves to the concept full-time, and launched DtM as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and a low-cost design company serving the developing world.


Kinkajou® Microfilm Projector and Portable Library:
One in five adults worldwide does not know how to read. In rural regions of West Africa, up to 75% of the population is illiterate. According to Barbara Garner of World Education, "it's the lack of resources "specifically access to books and lighting "rather than a lack of interest in education" that contributes to illiteracy rates.

To solve this problem, DtM designed a rugged, lightweight, low-power projection system, which uses a microfilm cassette to store 10,000 pages of information at a fraction of the cost of paper books. In 2004, with funding from USAID, World Education implemented Kinkajou Projectors in literacy centers in 45 Malian villages. To date, over 3,000 adults have learned to read using these projectors.

Improved Intravenous Drip Flow Controller:
In the hospitals of the developing world, family members with no medical training typically replace nurses for bedside care, and the simple intravenous (IV) drip tube and clamp represent state-of-the-art technology in flow control for drug delivery. It takes practice to achieve accurate flow rate settings with this device, and errors can be deadly.

As a substitute for the existing system, DtM has developed a more user-friendly and intuitive IV drip flow controller. This product has the potential to improve drug delivery and palliative care, and to save lives, throughout the developing world. This invention has received three U.S. patents, and will go into clinical trials in March 2007.

Low-Cost Infant Incubator and Isolation Unit:
Every year over four million infants in the developing world die within a month of birth. Infants born with complications--including prematurity, low birth weight and illness--need a warm and clean environment in which to get better. In developing countries, not only is there limited access to modern, high-tech incubators, but a lack of infrastructure and replacement parts render such devices worthless.

The goal of this new incubator project is to develop a functioning prototype of a low-cost incubator and isolation unit for infant care in developing countries. Our project partners are Medicine Mondiale,the Kanti Children's Hospital in Nepal, and the Global Health Initiative of CIMIT (Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology). We will begin field testing of the first incubator prototype in Fall of 2008.


Since our launch in 2003:

--DtM designs have won national and international design awards every year and have been featured in the press and at the Cooper‐Hewitt, National Design Museum.

--Our innovations in the medical field have received three patents.

--Our Low-cost Neonatal Incubator prototype, recently developed in conjunction with the Global Health Initiative of CIMIT (Center for Integration of Medicine & Innovative Technology), received enthusiastic reviews from experts at Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

--Our Kinkajou Microfilm Projector has transformed the way World Education delivers adult literacy education and helped teach over 5,000 adults to read in 45 villages in Mali.

--Our partner, Medicine Mondiale, has begun volume production of their Acuset IV Drip Flow Controller product based on a DtM design. They have delivered 150,000 units to Nepal and expect to scale to 500,000 units across India, Nepal and Pakistan in the next twelve months. This product has the potential to save thousands of lives by reducing errors in drug delivery.

In less than five years, we have reached over 160,000 beneficiaries in Mali and Nepal. We have recruited over 750 student and professional volunteers for our collaborative design process and have raised over $8M in donated expertise and in-kind contributions. We have accomplished this with just three full-time employees and an annual budget of $330K.


To improve the lives of one million beneficiaries in the next five years.


Timothy Prestero is a cofounder of Design that Matters and the related ThinkCycle initiative. He is co-inventor on three patents for cholera treatment devices. He is a graduate of the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering, holding M.S. degrees in Mechanical and Oceanographic Engineering, and a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Davis. Timothy was a Peace Corps volunteer in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa in the Urban Environmental Management program, where he worked as a consulting engineer and project manager for a city public works department. He has traveled throughout West Africa, Latin America and Asia. He is fluent in French. He is a Martin Fellow at the MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, and was named an Ashoka Affiliate in 2004.


Michael Foster (VMS Mentor), Director. Michael is a graduate chemical engineer with an MBA in international finance, and retired from Rohm and Haas Company as a Corporate Vice President and President of their $600 Million Circuit Board Materials business in 2001 after 34 years of service. Prior to his retirement, Mr. Foster held positions of increasing responsibility as Financial Director of Mexico and Central American subsidiaries, along with managerial positions in operations, marketing and mergers and acquisitions. Presently, Mr. Foster teaches and guest lectures on the subjects of business, strategy and mergers & acquisitions at Bentley College and Babson College.

Jonathan Moulton, Director.As Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Jon Moulton is responsible for Aspect Software's worldwide legal activities, including advising senior management and the board of directors on legal transactions, overseeing corporate compliance and governance initiatives, managing mergers, acquisitions and other commercial transactions, as well as providing legal support to the sales, services and partner organizations at Aspect Software. Aspect Software is one of the largest software companies in Massachusetts with approximately $600M in annual sales and ranks 76th on the Software 500.

Christopher Noble, Director. Christopher is an engineer, executive, and entrepreneur with experience in high-technology business, international operations, and fundraising for high-tech startups and non-profits. He is the founder and CEO of Ultimate Balance, Inc., which has developed wearable electronic motion-sensing for physical therapy, sports and lifestyle applications.


Mali, Nepal





CAMBRIDGE, MA 02142-1187

Phone: (617) 682-3623

EIN: 30-0172078

A Gift Card



Equip Research Team

Camera Video Recorder

Your gift will help provide the equipment needed to best document DtM's field research. The research collected will be brought back to the design studios in order to develop innovative solutions.


Build a Prototype!

30 min. of design work

Your gift will leverage 30 minutes of low cost design services to develop the next phase of the DtM Infant Incubator, in order to provide improved neonatal care to the developing world.


Test a Product!

One research team

Your gift will contribute to sending a team of students and professional volunteers to test a DtM product in the field to best assess a community's needs.


Save a Life!

Infant incubator

2,000,000 neonatal deaths can be prevented just by keeping an infant warm. Give the gift of life, and bring hope to new mothers, by supporting the development of DtM's low cost Infant Incubator.


Sponsor a Fellow!

Find greatest needs

Help us provide the best solutions to the poor in developing countries. Sponsoring a fellow enables DtM to have accurate information in assessing a community's greatest and most urgent needs and provides a life changing opportunity for participating students.