Despite important progress, unfortunately each year 6.3 million children still die before the age of 5 and 289,000 women die in pregnancy and childbirth. A third of children fail to reach their full potential. Innovation is needed to rectify this situation and help to reach the new global goal 3 of good health and well-being by 2030.
Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) is an unprecedented global movement that mobilizes and intensifies international and national action by governments, multilaterals, the private sector and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women and children. The movement puts into action the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which presents a roadmap on how to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve service on the ground for the most vulnerable women and children.
Every Woman Every Child is uniquely positioned to bridge any gaps by providing a platform to deliver strong political and leadership commitments, mobilise resources, and connect the stakeholders needed to successfully scale up an innovation. These stakeholders include innovators, universities, small and medium enterprises, incubators and accelerators, foundations, development agencies, civil society organisations, multinational corporations, investment banks, high net worth individuals, and governments.
Every Woman Every Child innovation marketplace is established to facilitate the four interlinked elements of innovation: the pipeline, curation, brokering, and investment. Its goal is to scale up 20 investments in women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health by 2020 and to enable at least 10 of these innovations to be widely available and having a significant effect by 2030.
The pipeline comprises early stage innovations supported by investments of $100 000 to $250 000 to reach the proof of concept stage. There are more than 1000 innovations in the pipeline for women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health.
Curation is the comparative analysis of innovations in the pipeline. Curation may show that some innovations are not quite ready for investment because they have not reached the stage of scientific proof of concept or because their business plan is poorly developed. A neutral body associated with the UN can gain the confidence of investors and governments. The Innovation Working Group can stimulate, organise, and finance curation exercises in the sub-topics shown in the figure⇑ so that the most promising innovations can be scaled up through brokering and investment, ultimately achieving impact.
Brokering is the process of investment due diligence and of matching innovations to investors. Brokers need a “line of sight to the entire community,” including looking “backward” to curation and “forward” to investment, to effectively link innovators and investors. Communication of the curation effort is important to the marketing of the investment opportunity, conveying messages of the product’s benefits and, critically, that it is “doable,” given a sound investment thesis. Lessons can be learnt here from other impact investment organisations, such as the Global Health Investment Fund. The ultimate goal is to create a culture of innovation in health ministries.
Judith Rodin of the Rockefeller Foundation has pointed out, trillions of dollars in private capital are sitting on the sidelines. Investors require trustworthy channels and an effective and neutral deal sourcing process through which to make investments that have an impact. An impact investment manager is needed to broker such opportunities.
Investment is the process of decision making for public and private funding of innovations of more than $1m. We need ways to access new pools of capital, such as private sector investors, and to mobilise countries’ domestic resources. Investors include multinational companies, impact investors, venture philanthropists, “angels,” venture capital funds, civil society organisations, foundations, and governments.
Imagine a scenario whereby a health minister can survey the national gaps in care, match these gaps to innovations in the EWEC marketplace, and finance the scaling up of these innovations through procurement, by using domestic resources or the UN global financing facility. Ultimately, countries are the biggest investors in innovation as it is scaled up, and health ministries institutionalise these innovations. Such a system optimises country leadership and the lifesaving and life improving power of innovation for women’s and children’s health.
Civil society organisations are another source of finance and are well positioned to adopt and scale up innovations. The same foundations and development agencies that helped create the pipeline at proof of concept stage will also help finance the most promising innovations, serving to further reduce risk for subsequent private and public investors.