Global Access / IP
Maximising Impact on People’s Lives
In line with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Access Strategy, we’re fully committed to ensuring that our innovations, products and information are accessible (in cost, quantity and supply) to the people most in need in the developing world.
We want to maximise our innovations’ impact on improving the lives of people with access to poor or inadequate sanitation. We need them to reach the market as quickly as possible, on a large scale and at an affordable price for consumers.
Our technology landscaping identified new systems which could in principle be applied to slow the accumulation of pit latrine contents and extend pit lifetimes. It included an extensive search of both patent and scientific literature, and revealed several technologies of interest where the rights belong to a third party.
As a result, for each of our possible innovations, we’ll ensure that if permission to use third party Intellectual Property (IP) in the form of patents is required, we’ll seek it at an early stage. Where proprietary expertise is essential, we’ll seek collaborative agreements with the third party concerned.
In each case, we’ll attempt to delineate clearly background or existing IP (and how that will be accessed) from any new IP which might be generated (and how that will be managed and exploited). Any such exploitation must be consistent with Global Access in terms of enabling maximum impact on our target market.
Securing Intellectual Property
Our approach to securing IP will be to scrutinise all major insights and ideas emerging from our work for their novelty versus the prior art, in consultation with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Business Development Manager and a patent attorney. We’ll do this prior to publication in scientific journals or on the internet.
We’ll file patents if the evidence for inventiveness is clear and they will facilitate optimal development and commercialisation of the invention – for example, in securing freedom to use. A consideration will be whether patenting would be useful in ensuring access to new product concepts in the interests of poor consumers, by enabling some measure of control over the conditions under which licences are granted, and their recipients.
We will make sure that the policy of Global Access is reflected in our agreements and contracts with collaborators, and clarify with them how existing and new IP will be handled.
Publishing Results and Information
We’re committed to sharing all key learning, new experimental data and major research insights with the scientific, industrial and development communities, through academic journals, conferences or online. We may also use open innovation mechanisms to publicise insights and challenges where external solutions are required.
For our microbial diversity work at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, it is part of our agreement that raw sequence data be submitted to major public repositories immediately after quality control.
Sanitation Ventures (SV) was set up to find solutions to the problem of pit latrine filling. The scale of the challenge – and the opportunity – is huge: there are around 1.7 billion latrine users worldwide. In this report we share our thoughts and progress on identifying, developing and delivering solutions for these people.