Harnessing innovation for health around the world

Woman in a sari holding her infant daughter, with her village in the background.

An introduction to the Innovation Countdown 2030 initiative

We are pleased to welcome you to the Innovation Countdown 2030 initiative.

As sponsors of the initiative, PATH and the Government of Norway are deeply motivated by the impact that innovation has had on global health in the past 15 years. From 2002 to 2012, for example, innovations in child survival—including immunization as well as malaria prevention and control, improved nutrition, access to clean water and sanitation, and education—have reduced the number of deaths among children under age five by 3 million per year. When we see remarkable results like this, we know that we can do much, much more to improve the effectiveness, safety, accessibility, and cost of today’s health interventions.

As we set our sights on harnessing the potential of innovation for the next 15 years, we acknowledge a few key insights. First, we recognize that many innovations that have contributed to progress toward the Millennium Development Goals were already in the pipeline when the goals were launched in 2000. Second, we see that innovation is no longer the sole purview of white-coated scientists working in well-funded labs. Increasingly, innovation happens at the intersections of disciplines, sectors, and countries. Third, we recognize that taking bright ideas to scaled-up reality is a long, hard road with many pitfalls. Development, large-scale production, introduction, and use are seldom linear or sequential.

We conclude that if we can be more deliberate about identifying high-potential innovations, we can strategically focus resources for the greatest possible impact. We can enlist governments and new investors who seek to channel their resources most effectively. And we can develop new ways to surface and accelerate the ideas that will one day—within our lifetimes—achieve game-changing impact.

We live in a dynamic world, and we know that the innovation landscape will change. New innovations will emerge, and existing innovations will advance or drop off. Innovation Countdown 2030 therefore seeks to not only create a formal process for identifying innovations but to track those innovations over time—capturing new ideas, sharing provocative insights, and creating an environment that drives change. And it seeks to foster the “cross-talk” that can provide the essential ingredient—whether that’s knowledge, resources, or partnerships—in a formula that has the power to improve millions of lives around the world.

Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.