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Emergency Assistance: Health equity for those who need it most

The $200M Global Health Equity Fund is a financial-first impact fund that will focus on breakthrough technology solutions that can improve healthcare around the world

WHO Foundation CEO Anil Soni with OurCrowd founder and CEO Jon Medved, September 2022. (Aurelio Di Muzio)
WHO Foundation CEO Anil Soni with OurCrowd founder and CEO Jon Medved, September 2022. (Aurelio Di Muzio)

On Monday, at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, I joined Anil Soni, CEO of the WHO Foundation, to announce the creation of a Global Health Equity Fund launched by the WHO Foundation and OurCrowd.

The Global Health Equity Fund is a $200 million financial-first impact venture capital investment fund that will focus on breakthrough technology solutions that can improve healthcare around the world. It will support the UN’s sustainable development goals, kick-start innovation and increase investment in the health sector.

Its mission is to increase equitable access to medical care while also delivering competitive returns to investors.

Our announcement triggered a wave of global news coverage, including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Reuters, CNBC TV Africa, TechCrunch and The Times of Israel.

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 – even in the world’s most developed countries – the under-funding of healthcare provision, and inequitable access to technology solutions, including vaccines, medicines and diagnostics. Even now, the extensive medical armory developed to fight Covid-19 remains unavailable to the majority of the population of low-income countries.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic threw the weaknesses in our global health system into such sharp relief, the growing health inequity between different parts of the world – and even between different regions within countries – was becoming painfully clear. The pandemic was a wake-up call for many high-tech investors and opened their eyes to health inequity around the world. At the same time, those involved in BioTech and related companies were aware of the potential of innovative technology to save lives and deliver medical treatment to more communities via modern technology.

Access to essential medical services and basic healthcare is declining rapidly in many countries of the world, irrespective of their wealth or development. High-income countries face mounting crises in their health systems with long waiting lists, inadequate emergency care and overburdened services. Low-income countries struggle to provide basic healthcare and are unable to meet the additional challenge of natural disasters and health emergencies.

Beyond direct healthcare, the gap is widening between those with and those without regular access to clean water, fresh food, clean air, adequate waste services and the basic environmental conditions necessary for healthy living.

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. 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.

OurCrowd and our partners at the WHO Foundation believe it is time for a global healthcare transformation that will prioritize practical solutions to these critical and life-threatening challenges. We believe that the key to this transformation lies in technological innovation.

To meet this urgent global need the Global Health Equity Fund will focus on developing solutions designed to provide health for all, while creating economic growth. This will be achieved by investing in MedTech, HealthTech and other technologies directly related to medical care, as well as technologies in AgTech, FoodTech and energy transition that help to reduce or eliminate health risks.

OurCrowd has a track record in identifying healthcare and sustainability investments able to deliver value to patients, healthcare providers and investors. The collaboration with the WHO Foundation will assist the identification of additional promising investments and facilitate the commitment of investors and entrepreneurs to equitable access to these innovative technologies.

An initial fund simulation based on existing relevant companies in the OurCrowd portfolio suggests a net IRR of 18% and a net multiple of 1.73x.

Philanthropic causes

The fund will be structured to ensure that a significant percentage of the fund’s carried interest will revert to the WHO Foundation to support its philanthropic causes.

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 Access Pledge, companies will seek to develop a commercially viable Access Plan relevant to their business. The WHO Foundation and OurCrowd will appoint 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.

The Global Health Equity Fund will focus on healthcare and also on the industries that are direct determinants of health, including energy transition, food and 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 change, fossil fuels, and looming food and water shortages.

The 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.

For more information on the OurCrowd/WHO Foundation Global Health Equity Fund, click HERE.

Jonathan Medved is the founder and CEO of OurCrowd, the world’s leading global equity funding platform for accredited investors, based in Jerusalem.

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