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This lab is reinventing its approach to invention

With help from Bill Gates, this lab is reinventing its approach to invention

Global Good, a collaboration between the invention company Intellectual Ventures and the billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, today announced a new partnership around a bioelectronic treatment initiative to address the leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide.

The fund, which is focused on inventing, developing, and deploying technologies for the poorest parts of the world, will partner with a health care research group and a medical device company to carry out clinical trials for the neural tourniquet device. The partnership aims to make this therapy available in developing regions, to reduce life threatening bleeding for mothers suffering from postpartum hemorrhage.

The collaboration is the latest of a growing number of examples of this Seattle-based innovation and invention lab identifying partners to get their products to some of the hardest markets in the world to reach.

Walk through the doors of Intellectual Ventures, and the first thing you will see is a quote by Thomas Edison. “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”

Pass through the halls of the lab, and you will find low cost, high impact technologies that could be transformative for global health, such as the Arktek vaccine storage device, which can keep vaccines cold without the need for external energy.

“Technology is the most potent form of magic our society has,” Nathan Myhrvold, founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures told Devex on a recent tour of the lab. “Why shouldn’t you be able to harness that for the people who need it most?”

Global Good wants to do just that. It was created with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Asset Trust, the charitable trust of the billionaires, which also funds the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It focuses its work on five thematic areas where they have identified that invention has the greatest potential for impact in developing countries: disease modeling, vaccine logistics, vector management, malaria and tuberculosis diagnostics, and agricultural productivity. Its partnership with Intellectual Ventures is a core part of that mission.

At the lab, the smells of freshly baked goods in a test kitchen not too far from a robotic dinosaur tail reflects the myriad interests of Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer at Microsoft. He is the lead author of an encyclopedia on the art and science of cooking, the owner of a mansion with a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton on display, and his latest project is focused on producing six volumes all about bread.

Gates, a close associate since his Microsoft days, helped turn his attention to the real problems faced by people in the developing world, and he considered the role technology could play in solving those problems, if only it would move beyond “creating tools or toys for rich people.”

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Latin America and the Caribbean
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