Helpful Engineering (HELPFUL) is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization building and operating a distributed platform and volunteer community dedicated to collaborative, open, and sustainable innovation. Our initial portfolio of projects focuses on Global Health – ranging from specific use case solutions in medical devices to systemic examinations of global supply chains; and how the application of engineering rigor leads to better design in everything we do. A critical factor in our approach is ensuring empathy for environmental constraints and efficient knowledge transfer to local manufacturing ecosystems.

Spontaneously born as an all-volunteer effort during early March of 2020 at the onset of the CoVID pandemic, HELPFUL scaled to ~13000 contributors in three weeks and has continued to emerge as a unique community where engineering, science, medicine, maker, along with business functions and industry expertise converges to push the boundaries of solution development. As of today more than 19,000 individuals from around the world have contributed to Helpful, iteratively developing both the organization as well as diverse project undertakings.


Helpful is a neutral and collaborative platform and community for open solution generation. Anyone may come to Helpful with an identified challenge or problem. Whether an individual, community, corporation, nonprofit, non-governmental or government entity – we help assess and refine the understanding of the challenge, generate a needs assessment and use case, risk profile, definition of success, project scope and requirements, and then present it to the Helpful community for volunteer consideration or assemble and manage a resourced project team, as appropriate.

Community projects begin with ideas. Interested individuals and parties actively discuss, evaluate and contribute until consensus has evolved a concept and determination the undertaking is worthwhile, at which point a project organically emerges. This may result in a clearly defined undertaking, or it may result in one or more hackathons producing multiple explorations or forked projects addressing the challenge. The most promising or compelling projects are then awarded microgrants to offset research and development expenses.

Project teams then generate viable, well thought out and documented solutions. To support this innovation process, in addition to micro grant funding, the Helpful organization and community provide active project teams with a development pipeline process which includes tooling, advisory (research, networking, QA/RA guidance, and other relevant expertise), fundraising and exposure to facilitate and encourage progress and improve the project’s chances of ultimately reaching the marketplace and seeing adoption.

Today, Helpful Engineering is building capacity to support its ongoing mission and diversifying further into the domains of Clean Energy, Smart Cities, Food and Water Security, as well as Sustainable Production and Manufacturing.


Specific solutions generated by the Helpful community – such as the Origami Face Shield and Surge Mask – have been first to market and seen upwards of 20-30 million units produced and delivered worldwide by individuals and industry alike. Contributors have successfully generated bench-tested ventilation devices capable of being produced at costs as low as $10USD per unit (ARMEE Ventilator), and several projects have seen successful testing by various US Government Departments and Laboratories, such as the Open Standard Respirator (US Army) and UVisor (Sandia National Laboratories). Helpful project teams have won MIT Hackathons, and multiple teams have brought forth new materials research, testing procedures and novel UVC application. Today Helpful continues to advance ongoing projects addressing patient ventilation needs in Low/Middle Income Countries along with related solutions surrounding therapeutic oxygen delivery.

Helpful also has an agreement with the US Department of Commerce National Institutes of Standards and Technology to define and generate a new adaptive Supply Chain Interoperability Specification and produce multiple white and green papers on the topic (to be released as NIST Technical Notes) in advance of developing proof of concept demonstrators and establishing cross industry working groups.

Helpful has spun off multiple nonprofit and for-profit organizations which have achieved impact, and has supported data entry and automation for the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center’s New York City’s largest Federally Qualified Healthcare Center and their vaccination efforts, as well as design and implementation of an inventory management system.


Our initial seed grant was provided by Protocol Labs. Their timely and generous contribution has allowed us to provide resources to numerous projects innovating in the medical domain and to support the operational overhead of the platform which made them possible. We also directly fundraise for projects via public channels.

Today, Helpful is actively looking to engage with industry, individuals and other parties interested in becoming founding or supporting members of Helpful Engineering, as well as funders and contributors who may wish to engage via other apertures such as capacity grant vehicles or sponsorships. Broad stakeholder engagement and support will allow us to continue to build out Helpful’s open platform and services, advance community program development and further projects, and expand our capacity to realize benefit for all.

We invite you to join us.

Please contact us here to discuss how we might work together.