How We Work


|THE GHIT FUND BUSINESS MODEL

The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund) is an international non-profit organization headquartered in Japan that invests in the discovery and development of new health technologies such as drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics. The returns we seek are innovative products with the potential for game-changing health and economic impact in the developing world.

We deliberately refer to our grants as investments and our grantees as development partners. While we do not seek financial returns, sharing our work and activities through this investment-focused lens helps us communicate our expectations of results and ensures accountability for our funds.
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1.  New Model for Global Health R&D Financing

The GHIT Fund was established by three key partners: the Japanese Government, a group of Japan’s leading pharmaceutical companies, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The creation of the GHIT Fund signals to the world that infectious diseases are a global issue that can only be solved by broadening and deepening international R&D partnerships between the public, private and civil sectors. The challenges are too great for one pharmaceutical company, one research institution, or one nation to confront alone.

Japanese private sector engagement

The GHIT Fund counts Japan’s leading pharmaceutical companies as founding partners, alongside the Japanese Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The engagement of the Japanese private sector is unique and sets the GHIT Fund apart from other product development funds.

In recent years, expectations of private sector participation in global health efforts have grown. In particular, the global health community has increasingly urged the private sector to play a more proactive and, some would argue responsible, role in improving global health R&D, product delivery, and access in the developing world. However, a corporate-social responsibility (CSR)-focused approach to this engagement is unsustainable for the private sector, and limits impact. In order for the private sector to sustainably engage, these activities must fit into a company’s broader business strategy. Profit isn’t always necessarily the goal, but the bottom line must be considered sustainable in order to have a lasting impact.

Japan's strategy for global health

Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare have joined forces with the GHIT Fund to support and champion global health R&D within the government.

The Japanese government’s investment in the GHIT Fund is a direct realization of the country’s 2013 Strategy on Global Health Diplomacy, which encourages strategic collaborations with international partners and the use of domestic R&D capabilities in continued support of achieving the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). This strategy is linked tightly with Japan’s Healthcare and Medical Strategy, also launched in 2013.

Policy engagement in global health at the highest levels of the Japanese government complement the country’s legacy of important investments in health: Japan helped establish the Global Fund and put health on the G8 agenda, and the country has contributed to the achievement of MDGs for years. The formalization of foreign policy focused on combating the most devastating diseases of the developing world has been under way since the mid-1990s, along with an increasing recognition of the overwhelming toll that infectious diseases take on the communities and economies Japan’s ODA supports.

2.  Investments in Global Health R&D Partnerships

Leveraging Partners' Strengths to Increase Efficiency

International cross-sector R&D partnerships in global health are on the rise. Organizations are increasingly recognizing the power and benefit of pooling unique capabilities and skills in efforts to discover, develop and deliver new health technologies more quickly and effectively. For instance, the drug development process (comprising discovery through product launch) for an individual pharmaceutical company has traditionally taken on average of over a decade. The PDP model enables significant time and cost reductions in this process through the appropriate engagement of life science companies, universities, and research institutions throughout the world at various stages in the R&D process. As a result of this coordinated network, 39 new products have been developed by PDPs.

The GHIT Fund provides a platform that encourages global R&D partnerships for the private sector, enabling in our case companies in Japan well outside of our founding partners to access global health information and assets that are unavailable domestically and reinforcing their commitment to global health in line with their business strategy in emerging markets.

3.  Increasing Access to Medicines

Access is a GHIT Founding Principle and is a core part of all of our work. With over one billion people living in absolute poverty, many in the developing world subsisting on less than US$1 a day, we recognize that our end products need to be affordable and accessible to those with little or no resources. Complex obstacles including the price of medicines, the limited capacity of public health systems, a lack of political commitment to health improvement, international trade and patent disputes, and unsustainable and unreliable financing, are all barriers that complicate access to necessary medicines. In recognition of this critical challenge, the GHIT Fund works with life science companies, universities and research institutions to discover and develop new health technologies, including drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, that are both accessible and affordable for the poorest of the poor. From the very early stages of investing in a potential product, we assess its “accessibility” and do this throughout the Review Processes during the External Review, Selection Committee, and Board Decision stages. A potential product’s accessibility for the poorest of the poor is a significant criteria for all investments in the GHIT Portfolio.