Medical products used in the developed world often fail to adequately serve resource-limited settings where electricity, transportation and health care workers are not readily available. We suggest that the problem is not only a lack of coordinated financial resources to purchase existing medical products, but also a lack of products that are specifically designed for resource-limited settings. While donor organisations with a focus on global health are increasingly willing to bear the additional financial risk for the research and development of such high-impact medical products, corporations are still reluctant to take their best scientists and engineers away from more commercially attractive projects. Universities, on the other hand, given their teaching and research missions, are well positioned to engage in such high-risk development projects. A group of biomedical, engineering, business and social science researchers at Northwestern University (NU) propose a creative model to address significant social and health needs. The team's initial product focus is a rapid test for diagnosing infants with HIV. The NU model aligns the incentives and expertise of industry, donors and academia to innovate medical products, such as the infant HIV diagnostic test, for resource-limited settings.