Unlocking the Power of Invention for Developing Countries


Unlocking the Power of Invention for Developing Countries

March 28, 2013

I was drawn to Global Good by one daunting challenge – to realize the full power of invention in parts of the world that need it most. As an inventor, entrepreneur and executive, I’ve spent my career trying to solve problems and satisfy market needs, but none of this scale and importance. 

In wealthier parts of the world, the promise of profit attracts an abundance of inventions to address needs of all size and scope. Under this traditional profit-driven model, technology is invented, businesses form to commercialize it and entire industries emerge to drive market adoption. We’ve seen this play out with cell phones, microprocessors, social media, and countless other examples. Unfortunately, these same competitive market forces that have been so efficient in creating invention economies are weakest in areas where they’re needed most. As a result, millions suffer and die each year in the developing world from issues science and technology could address.

This troubling reality is not for lack of effort. Governments, multi-laterals, businesses, NGOs, and individuals have all made meaningful contributions to improve life in the poorest parts of the world. Even still, significant barriers remain that prevent developing countries from experiencing the full transformational efficiency of profit-driven markets centered on invention.

The cost of inventing new technology – whether for the developed world or the developing world – is consistently high, but the returns on that investment are much weaker and take much longer in the developing world. Put more simply, companies and inventors often can’t afford to apply their full inventive abilities toward problems unique to the developing world.  Some technology invented for wealthier markets does find its way to developing countries, but it isn’t always applicable, affordable, or accessible enough to address many of unique challenges there.

Working in collaboration with Bill Gates, Global Good is pioneering an approach to address this. We apply Intellectual Ventures’ expertise in invention to specifically invent, develop, and deploy technology that improves life in developing countries. Equally important, we do it with an eye toward the incentives needed to catalyze self-sustaining markets and additional innovation. Our goal is not only to invent technology for the developing world, but also to minimize the risk and financial barriers that often prevent market forces from carrying technology to its fullest potential in these areas. Global Good is driven by impact rather than profit, but we believe that for-profit market incentives play an important role to encourage applicable, affordable, and accessible technology in developing countries.

We accomplish this by first working with partners like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to clearly define and understand pressing health and development challenges that could be addressed through new inventions. We then leverage IV’s inventors, multi-disciplinary laboratory, and knowledge of intellectual property to invent, test, and develop potential technology-based solutions. With no aims of financial gains or returns from developing world applications of our inventions, we transfer them to commercial partners with the interest and ability to make them accessible in the developing world. Having made the upfront investment to invent and develop the technology, we enable these partners to enter and build new markets around our inventions with greatly reduced capital requirements. We hope that these inventions and companies can then be catalysts for further innovation to improve life in developing countries.

This is a new vision for daunting problems and we can’t do it alone. Whether you are an entrepreneur in the developing world with a strategy to make a difference or a global company with an interest in the needs of the developing world, we want you to join us. More information about partnering with Global Good is available at www.globalgood.com.

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