New Report Showcases How Intellectual Property Enables Health Innovation in Latin America

April 15, 2019

WASHINGTON—Intellectual property (IP) rights enable life-sciences innovations that address the greatest global health challenges. While new health innovations emerge from all corners of the world, a joint initiative from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the Institute for Intellectual Property Research (IIPR), and Geneva Network showcases the contributions made by innovators in Latin America and the unique challenges they face.

“Solving the world’s toughest health challenges requires significant investment in research and development. Unfortunately, the absence of strong intellectual property rights throughout Latin America makes that investment risky, which discourages the research needed to ultimately find cures,” said ITIF Vice President Stephen Ezell, co-author of the report. “If Latin American countries want to attract life-sciences investment, they need to put strong IP rights in place and make a commitment to protect them.”

Despite these challenges, the project explores how entrepreneurs in Latin America are promoting innovation in life-sciences and healthcare through a series of seven case studies:

  • An Argentine invention that helps deliver babies;
  • A Brazilian mobile application that helps individuals with disabilities communicate;
  • A Chilean invention that looks to identify whether seafood is poisonous;
  • A Colombian biotechnology start-up that treats tissue loss resulting from burns, ulcers, tumors and trauma;
  • A Mexican antivenom medication that treat bites and stings from poisonous animals such as rattlesnakes, scorpions, and black widow spiders;
  • A Peruvian portable baby incubator that helps high-risk newborns; and
  • A Latin American research collaboration that created the world’s first lung cancer vaccine.

“Stronger IP rights create greater opportunity for entrepreneurs to invent and for those innovations to benefit the world’s citizens,” said IIPR Founder and President Mark Schultz. “With the right policies in place, these innovations will be able to reach those most in need.”

“Latin America is a continent rich with talent and natural resources,” said Philip Stevens, Executive Director of Geneva Network. “These case studies show the potential for it to become a global center for health innovation, saving lives while providing much needed economic growth and jobs. Intellectual property rights are at the center of this story.”

“Research for this project has proven that Latin American innovators have so much to offer their region and the world. However, current IP policies do not encourage or foster a culture of innovation,” said Jaci McDole, IIPR Director of Research and Administration. “Policymakers in Latin America should do more to cultivate innovative communities.”

Read the report.