Access to Healthcare for All through Circular Design

Universal access to healthcare depends on access to medical equipment and medical staff. While medical devices are indispensable to healthcare, device technologies are often inaccessible to the people who need them, particularly in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). Most medical devices are developed in High-Income Countries, which makes them hard to use in healthcare settings in LMICs, due to a lack of trained personnel, limitations with infrastructure, dependence on disposable consumables, lack of spare parts, and high costs. This current situation does not only lead to social challenges (no or limited acces to the healthcare), but results as well in an increasing amount of uncontrolled electronic and medical waste in Sub Sahara Africa.

This PhD research will take an integrated approach to the development of "inclusive cirular" medical devices for LMICs, building on the work done in our research group on Design for Sustainability and Circular Economy, Design for Healtcare for All and developed design tools like product-journey and equipment-journey. One of the research objectives is the development of an inclusive circular design approach as a structuring framework for the formulation of sustainable and circular development priorities for LMIC medical devices. Currently some circular and inclusive tools and methods for medical devices exist, but only in draft, and will need to be further detailed and integrated based on life cycle thinking, inclusive design and patient journey maps. In parallel, a number of case studies will be undertaken that will result in a better understanding of the current healthcare and circular economy barriers in LMICs, and that can lead to prototypes, guidelines and recommendations for the design, development and implementation of inclusive circular medical devices for LMICs.

We offer a PhD position in the department of Sustainable Design Engineering at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering. You will be based in the Design for Sustainability group and will work actively with the TU Delft Global Initiative. Our group has a well-established healthcare-related network in Sub Sahara Africa


  • A EU Master’s degree (or equivalent) in a relevant field, i.e. industrial design, industrial ecology, sustainable/circular business models;
  • A strong affinity with design of medical devices as well as with low resource settings;
  • Demonstrable people skills, including the ability to run workshops, co-design activities and collaborate with various stakeholders;
  • Ability to conduct and deliver high quality research both independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team (having already written scientific papers is a plus);
  • A passion for improving people’s lives through better design and a demonstrable interest in the role of technology in society;
  • Available for field research in Sub-Sahara Africa;
  • Excellent communication skills in English, both in written and oral.  

contract: 4 years.

TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3061 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Industrial Design Engineering

Matching the evolution of people with the speed of the revolution of technology. This is the focus of the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE). Delft designers act as a bridge between advances in technology and the needs of people, organisations and society to create products, services and systems with purpose.

IDE is a leader in design research across the application areas of mobility, sustainability and health, as well as its development of design tools and methods. A 350-strong research team and over 2,000 students work together in our inspiring hall, labs and studios.

In close cooperation with industry, the public sector and NGOs we rehearse possible futures in research and education to design for a complex future.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering.

For information about the vacancy procedure please contact Dr. Jan-Carel Diehl, Associate Professor, at


TU Delft



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