BREAKTHROUGHS BLOG

September 11, 2013

New paper examines research funding for diseases and conditions of poverty

Product Development Policy Officer
PATH

In this guest post, Claire Wingfield—product development policy officer at PATH—writes about a new paper she developed for the GHTC that outlines key funding challenges and opportunities for global health research and development (R&D).

The funding landscape for global health R&D is evolving. Significant investments from governments and philanthropic organizations before the financial crisis helped create robust and promising product portfolios for poverty-related and neglected diseases and conditions. However, in the current financial climate, budget constraints are threatening this progress. Today, the GHTC is releasing a new paper that examines the implications of this changing environment—in particular, the financing challenges and opportunities facing organizations that advance the development of new vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, microbicides, and other health products for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Traditionally, the majority of funding supporting nonprofit product development organizations (NPPDs) to develop technologies for LMICs has been grants from government development agencies—predominately in the United States and Europe—and philanthropies. However, the funding landscape for NPPDs has changed significantly in recent years, and many organizations are reconsidering their business models and funding structures. In particular, traditional governmental and philanthropic donors have scaled back their overall investments in NPPDs, and some donors have become more restrictive in how their money is spent.

A new paper from the GHTC outlines key funding challenges and opportunities for global health research and development . Credit: PATH.
A new paper from the GHTC outlines key funding challenges and opportunities for global health research and development . Credit: PATH.

As a result, NPPDs are pursuing innovative financing models to sustain progress in developing new products and to attract new investment, both to fill the funding gap and to increase the flexibility of their funding. Across the diverse group of NPPDs we surveyed for the paper, we found common funding challenges that each is grappling with in this new environment.

NPPDs noted that while the funding environment presents many challenges, there are also new investment and partnership opportunities. To ensure that the goal of creating cost-effective, culturally relevant, affordable, and accessible products is driving their work, NPPD outlined criteria that can be used to design and evaluate financing. Specifically, funding mechanisms and donor support should:

All of the NPPDs noted that exploring new financing models is not new to them but that they must continue to adapt their financing models and explore new opportunities to respond to an evolving funding environment. Finally, better collaboration among stakeholders—including NPPDs, governments, academia, foundations, and the private sector—is critical to maximizing R&D funding to improve health and well-being in LMICs.

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