Case Study

Biolite: Innovative design for global solutions

7 pages
December 2014
Reference: IMD-7-1571

BioLite started out as an evening and weekend project for two men who wanted to design a more efficient camping stove. From those humble beginnings grew a company that has won accolades and attention for its innovative design. BioLite’s stove could potentially improve the lives of millions of people worldwide while combatting global climate threats. With its roots in sustainable design, the company has become a social enterprise dedicated to finding a market-based solution to the range of problems caused by the open fires that millions of people rely on for cooking and heating their homes. A unique feature of BioLite’s business model is its dual-innovation streams: The lessons and innovations gleaned from testing its HomeStove prototypes in developing countries like Ghana, Uganda and India are then adapted to create products that can be sold to the European and North American recreational markets. The revenues from sales in developed markets can then support the company, be reinvested in new research and help incubate its efforts in developing countries until those fledgling markets become self-sustaining. However, BioLite is at a transitional stage, having completed much of its field-testing, it has an adaptable and well-accepted HomeStove design. At the end of the case, the future viability of BioLite’s proposed model is brought into question given the complexities of successfully selling its product in a developing country.

Learning Objective

The BioLite case could be used in several subject areas as it incorporates elements of entrepreneurship, business strategy and corporate social responsibility/sustainability. Of particular interest is the way BioLite has combined design and strategic thinking to embed sustainability and transformational values into its core business strategy. Therefore, it is applicable for use in undergraduate, MBA level or executive courses.

BioLite, Manufacturing, Electric and Electronic Equipment
Published Sources
© 2014
Available Languages
Related material
Teaching note
Case clearing houses
IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre

Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way, Boston MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

Asia Pacific Case Center

NUCB Business School

1-3-1 Nishiki Naka
Nagoya Aichi, Japan 460-0003
Tel +81 52 20 38 111
Email [email protected]


Research Information & Knowledge Hub for additional information on IMD publications

Discover our latest research
IMD's faculty and research teams publish articles, case studies, books and reports on a wide range of topics