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Update

Bridging biotech and global health

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you’re both speaking English, but not using words and phrases that make sense? That’s what it can be like for companies entering the global health arena. I remember an executive from a Fortune 100 company standing up at a global health conference a few years ago who said, “I want to help, but I can’t figure out what you are talking about.”

I’m happy to say that these days many business leaders are learning the global health language. WGHA is excited that among our newest members are two biotech companies, Just and Kineta. Both are companies dedicated to finding solutions for the developing and developed world alike. It is becoming clearer that it is possible for a research firm to use similar science to address health challenges ranging from Ebola to cancer. It isn’t a matter of either-or.

WGHA plays a role in bridging the gaps between global health organizations and biotechs. Our comprehensive understanding of the local global health landscape allows us to bring people together who might otherwise work in isolation. It is imperative that solutions to global health problems must ultimately be supported by sustainable business models rather than by a model based primarily on donors.

This approach requires new thinking about funding for companies – supplementing venture funding with grants with program- related investments to support for-profit companies in global health research and technology development.

To further this discussion, WGHA is delighted to partner with Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association (WBBA) for a great panel July 1st during the Life Sciences Innovation Northwest Conference. We’ll explore where opportunities exist for biotechs in low and middle income countries.

I hope you can join Charlotte Hubbert (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Erik Iverson, (IDRI), Jim Thomas, (Just), Doug Fisher, (Sera Prognostics) and me bright and early on July 1st for what promises to be an enlightening conversation.

If your biotech wants to engage with the global health community, WGHA can help start the conversation. See if WGHA membership is a good fit for you here.