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.
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 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, both non-profit, non-partisan research organizations, have teamed up to tell the exciting story of how innovation is making the world healthier.
Our Innovate4Health initiative culminates with this report, profiling 25 original case studies showcasing how innovators, many in developing countries, are tackling life-sciences/healthcare innovation in their nations and across the broader developing world. The 25 case studies are organized into the following six themes:
- Adapting healthcare interventions for environments where resources and infrastructure are challenging;
- Providing affordable and robust tests for diagnosing diseases;
- Improving HIV diagnosis and care;
- Affordable interventions to meet basic needs in challenging environments;
- Getting healthcare to the people in places where it’s hard for people to come to the healthcare;
- Fostering health innovation in emerging economies.
Collectively the case studies tell a compelling and inspiring story of how entrepreneurs are creating IP-enabled life-sciences innovations that are helping to tackle some of the world’s toughest health issues.