Innovate4Health: Meeting Global Challenges by Innovating

Stephen Ezell Mark Schultz March 9, 2017
March 9, 2017

(Ed. Note: The “Innovation Fact of the Week” appears as a regular feature in each edition of ITIF’s weekly email newsletter. Sign up today.)

(Ed. Note: This post is part of Innovate4Health, a joint project of GMU’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation providing case studies on how IP-driven innovation is tackling some of the world’s toughest health issues.)

Many of the world’s biggest challenges are health challenges. The good news is that more than ever, people are meeting these challenges with innovative solutions.

While we still face great difficulties, people all over the world live better than ever before thanks to innovation. New medicines prevent or alleviate disease. New devices diagnose problems, repair bodies, and overcome physical challenges. Still other inventions keep vaccines and medicines fresh and effective or ensure their authenticity. New business models help innovation to happen and ensure that it reaches those who need it.

Many of these innovations are secured by intellectual property rights, which support the ability of innovators to invent and bring solutions to market. Property rights, particularly intellectual property rights, foster the freedom of many hands and many minds to work on challenging problems. They put decisions in the hands of those closest to problems — innovators with knowledge of potential solutions and caregivers and consumers who understand their own needs best. They fund individual careers and industries dedicated to fixing health problems, as well as the businesses that get these solutions to individuals.

With just a bit of reflection, it becomes clear that innovation and the property rights that secure it are key to meeting global health problems. Sometimes, however, the blinding light of necessity makes it hard to see this fact. When people are in need, it is all too easy to grow impatient with the rights of innovators. When that happens, innovators get treated as an obstacle.

We think that better public policy would result from better understanding of how innovation can meet global health challenges. Our organizations, the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School (CPIP) and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), have teamed up to tell the exciting story of how innovation is making the world healthier.

Our Innovate4Health project is providing case studies that describe how IP-driven innovation is tackling some of the world’s toughest health issues.

Throughout 2017, we will be telling these stories. Later this year, we will collect them into a report.