The global venture firm OurCrowd announced the launch of a Global Health Equity Fund (GHEF) in collaboration with the WHO Foundation. The news was shared at the first major Clinton Global Initiative meeting convened since 2016, held in New York City alongside the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The GHEF is a $200 million unique financial-first impact venture capital investment fund, focusing on breakthrough technology solutions that can impact healthcare globally. It will fuel innovation and increase investment in the health sector, with the shared goals of delivering competitive returns to investors and ensuring equitable access to medical care.
How will it work?
The Global Health Equity Fund will focus on healthcare and the industries that are direct determinants of health, including energy transition and food agriculture, which together address markets worth trillions of dollars globally. The target portfolio companies will therefore not only innovate to improve medical care but will also work to mitigate current global health risks related to climate, fossil fuels, and looming food shortages.
Associated with the fund is an Access Pledge, an innovation of the WHO Foundation to align investment with commitments by portfolio companies to ensure that their technology solutions are available, accessible, appropriate, and affordable for populations experiencing inequity, particularly in low-and middle-income settings.
As part of the Pledge, companies will seek to develop a commercially viable Access Plan relevant to their businesses. The WHO Foundation and OurCrowd will compose a global health advisory board to provide assistance to these companies so they can plan early for business models that combine economic return with equitable access.
WHO Foundation and Our Crowd share the aim of acting as standard bearers within the investment and global health communities, demonstrating the viability of investing to get robust returns, and intended impact, with both goals benefiting from partnership across the private and public sectors.
The fund team will be led by OurCrowd CEO, Jon Medved, and OurCrowd Managing Partner, Dr. Morris Laster, with the support of the WHO Foundation’s Chief Impact Investment Officer, Geetha Tharmaratnam. It will be managed by an OurCrowd team of clinical experts with decades of experience in medical technologies and startup growth.
On the record
“COVID-19 was a wake-up call for me as an investor,” said Jon Medved, Founder, and CEO of OurCrowd. “The pandemic opened my eyes to health inequity around the world and reinforced the potential of innovative technology to save lives. I am proud of our track record of identifying healthcare investments that have delivered value to patients and investors. This new fund builds on that success with the explicit orientation of having impact. The collaboration with the WHO Foundation will allow us to identify even more exciting investments and facilitate the commitment of investors and entrepreneurs to equitable access to the technologies we support.”
“In every country in the world, too many men, women, and children lack access to adequate healthcare because of income disparities and systemic barriers that perpetuate inequity, “said Anil Soni, WHO Foundation’s CEO. “Despite clear models for successfully balancing economic return with equitable access, such as the provision of medicines for HIV and AIDS, the world failed to deliver solutions for COVID-19 to everyone, everywhere. It is imperative that we deploy solutions in response to that failure, including directing investment to innovation and aligning both to equity as a goal from the start.”
“As we face multiple existential challenges at the national and at the global level, we know that innovators and emerging leaders are getting things done,” said Greg Milne, CEO of the Clinton Global Initiative. “The Global Health Equity Fund will help unlock new opportunities to expand the reach of these innovative approaches around global health, by harnessing the power of investors around the world to support solutions being driven at the community level.”
The fund was conceived in the wake of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, which sent shockwaves through health systems across the world. It exposed chronic weaknesses in health systems, the under-funding of healthcare provision, and inequitable access to technology solutions, including the vaccines, medicines, and diagnostics developed to fight COVID-19, which remain unavailable to the majority of the populations of low-income countries.