Fighting disease, not making money, focus of new Gates Foundation biotech institute

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There’s a new biotech in town. And it doesn’t care about making money.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spun out a nonprofit biotech offspring, the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute. With funding of $273 million for its first four years, the organization is in an enviable position.

“We don’t have to worry about revenue, return on investment. Our bottom line is lives saved. So it’s a pretty exciting place to be,” [said] Dr. Penny Heaton, the institute’s CEO.

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“Our mission is to develop products that will enable the end of diarrheal disease deaths, eradication of malaria … and to accelerate the end of the TB epidemic,” Heaton said.

While the institute will have some laboratory space, its staff — which Heaton expects to stretch to about 120 people within three years — won’t be focused on discovery. Instead the plan is to find ideas developed by academic labs or held in the portfolios of other biotech firms and essentially serve as a midwife, seeing projects through the treacherous middle stage of development.

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Freed from the need to generate profits, the institute isn’t interested in owning intellectual property. But any products it passes on to commercial partners will come with strings attached — commitments that the products will be made available at affordable prices, in the needed volume, and within a specified time frame.

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Read full, original post: The Gates Foundation rolls out details of its new biotech, one without a profit motive

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