Global Access

Scroll Down to Learn About Global Access

Global Access: the foundation’s Approach to Managing Innovation

At the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe in the transformative power of innovation. We are constantly pushing ourselves and our partners for new solutions to improve global health, to alleviate hunger and poverty in the developing world, and to improve access to quality education. By working together to apply creative thinking to enormous challenges, we believe that we all can fix some of the world’s toughest problems.

Innovative solutions to these problems often come in the form of new technology. But none of these innovations will make any difference in the lives of the people who need those vaccines, those seeds, those toilets, unless these innovative products actually reach them. So our ultimate objective is to make sure that the people we are trying to reach actually receive the innovative products that our partners are developing. This is part of a concept developed by the foundation called "Global Access."

Specifically, Global Access means that knowledge and information generated by our projects will be promptly and broadly disseminated and that the developments created will be delivered at an affordable price to the people who need them most.

A Comprehensive Approach

To ensure that access, we adopt a comprehensive approach that spans the full product development life cycle, from discovery through to delivery. We challenge partners to formulate sustainable strategies for ensuring that the product reaches our target beneficiary markets while taking advantage of profits that may be generated in other markets. An important part of these strategies is the management of any Intellectual Property that arises from the work we fund. Such strategies allow for IP protection when it is demonstrated that it will support and sustain the foundation's Global Access objectives.

In the end, we want to make sure that the products developed with our funding actually enter the markets we serve - the charitable markets - and is of real and meaningful benefit to those populations. For us, that's where the real results lie.

This training is intended to help you understand the role of Intellectual Property rights in the foundation’s approach to achieving Global Access.

We believe in the power of innovation to solve problems

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Role of IP in Global Access

Global Access is a creative concept we came up with in 2003 that requires our grantees and partners to commit to making the products and information generated by foundation funding widely available at an affordable price, in sufficient volume, at a level of quality, and in a time frame that benefits the people we're trying to help. What role does Intellectual Property play in the foundation's approach to furthering Global Access? Intellectual Property provides a great opportunity to think creatively and strategically about how we can reach our ultimate beneficiaries. The careful and deliberate management of IP (patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and rights in data) and the associated rights created or accessed through foundation-funded projects, is a critical component to achieving Global Access. Global Access commitments also apply to collaborations with for-profit entities. Whether it is a groundbreaking diagnostic tool or a new toilet that does not require a sewer connection or electricity, they are allowed to sell what they develop with foundation funding at a profit in the developed world, as long as the products are made available to the people who need them most.

Obligations

In the spirit of establishing attainable and meaningful goals, the foundation strives to right size Global Access obligations for each of our partners. Global Access obligations are specific to each project, depending on a number of factors, including foundation goals and needs, project duration, engagement model (i.e., grant, contract or program-related investment), partner alignment, complexity and scope of project, stage, presence and nature of Background IP or Background Third Party IP involved, future use of Funded IP, and the structure and experience of the partners involved.

Approach Flexibility

Although Global Access is specific as to its outcomes, it is flexible in its approach. The range of Global Access obligations may include a basic Global Access clause, the foundation taking a non-exclusive license to the Funded IP, or a requirement that the partner satisfy certain specific Global Access milestones. Such milestones may consist of establishing certain agreements among project partners, acquiring the IP license rights to particular technology necessary to successfully conduct the project and develop a product, or developing a project-specific "Global Access Strategy."

Global Access Strategy

In general, the IP piece of a Global Access Strategy addresses:

  • Identification of Background IP and specific strategies to ensure sufficient access to that Intellectual Property.
  • Agreements and/or procedures for transfers of materials and data among project participants.
  • Reporting processes to both the project management team and to the foundation, as well as the process for publishing and disseminating the knowledge and information gained from the project.
  • Strategies to secure, manage, and allocate Intellectual Property rights associated with the Funded Developments or Background Technology in a way that ensures Global Access while providing incentives for future potential private sector participation.
  • Anticipated development, commercialization, and sustainability strategies during and after the project to ensure that Global Access can be met.

Global Access Strategy, Continued

In this way, the foundation relies on our partners to develop creative solutions, not just in terms of the technology solution that may be needed. We also challenge partners to formulate sustainable strategies for ensuring that the product reaches our target beneficiary markets. For the sustainability of the project, we encourage partners to consider IP assets arising from the foundation-funded project in terms of how they might create incentives for all the parties along the value chain.

The foundation also takes a pragmatic approach to the management of IP Rights. Effective management of IP to achieve Global Access still allows for commercial opportunities and formation of unique and powerful collaborations.

The Power of Partnership

Partnerships and collaborations are a critical element of the foundation's strategy because we believe in their power to expand the reach and depth of our work. We seek collaborative partnerships with those that have the tools and infrastructure to bring about the changes that will enable all people to live healthy and productive lives. Partnerships enable us to draw on the unique talents, resources, and know-how of industry, academia, and the public sector to better serve our intended beneficiaries.

IP Rights are often seen as an insurmountable obstacle to a collaboration or partnership. However, when structured from the beginning with the guiding principles of Global Access, the perceived barriers raised by IP Rights are lowered, allowing for unique partnerships that can immensely benefit the charitable markets that the foundation seeks to serve.

Charitable Markets and Commercial Opportunities

We recognize that many of our investments will result in new technologies, and that these technologies may well have applications for wealthy as well as poor markets. Since our grant-making model provides for our grantee partners to typically own the results, we want to talk candidly about how a grantee partner will manage these potential IP assets to achieve project-specific objectives and to advance the foundation’s charitable mission.

An "incidental private benefit" that might result from the commercial application of these dual market applications is fine, as long as the charitable purpose of the project remains the central focus and top priority for all partners. We also recognize that free market forces will not take care of our target beneficiaries. In fact, that’s precisely why we’re doing what we do at the foundation: intervening where the market is not reaching the poorest people in the world.

When strategically managed, new IP means we have new opportunities to assure products and solutions will reach our target beneficiaries in poor or charitable markets.

Fundamentally, we respect our partners’ and others’ IP Rights. We ask our partners to be aware of the IP Rights of third parties, working with them to gain the access needed to make sure that the results of foundation-funded projects can be developed for our charitable markets without encumbrances.

We think an essential role of philanthropy is to make bets on promising solutions that governments and businesses can’t afford to make.

Bill and Melinda Gates

The Global Access Portal

Click here to view a sample of the IP report that you will fill out through the portal.

The foundation must have a clear understanding of the IP Rights that are expected to arise as a result of our funding and how our partners plan to manage such IP Rights to achieve Global Access. Availability of information regarding IP Rights allows the foundation to:

  • Monitor Global Access Commitments: Facilitate monitoring and management of compliance with IP Rights management and Global Access commitments to the foundation.
  • Enable Project Objectives: Leverage IP Rights to maximize impact of foundation-funded projects, motivate new partnerships and broadly benefit external partners.

The Global Access Portal, Continued

Because appropriate IP management is an essential component to achieving Global Access, we designed the Global Access Portal to facilitate communication with our partners about relevant IP Rights and related agreements with the foundation.

The Global Access Portal provides a framework and location for sharing required IP-related information between the foundation and a partner in the form of an IP Report. It provides a collaborative, secure location, specific to each investment, for the foundation and an investment partner (e.g. a grantee or a vendor) to share information in order to think creatively and strategically about how best to reach our intended beneficiaries. The transparency enabled by the Global Access Portal and IP Reports helps us to work together to make sure that the intended products will be accessible and affordable in the markets that serve our intended beneficiaries.

The Global Access Portal, Continued

To these ends, the Global Access Portal was designed to be:

  • Single location to view current and past foundation-funded projects for a specific principal investigator (PI) or vendor.
  • Past IP Reports are easily reviewed for ease of updates.
  • Answers to In-Process IP Reports are saved, allowing for completion over multiple seasons and contribution or review by multiple individuals to assure complete and accurate responses.
  • Facilitates a structured discussion within your own organization (such as with your Technology Transfer Office, outside counsel, or collaborators) to ensure common understanding of foundation requirements.
  • Provides a context for Global Access commitments between you and the foundation.
  • Structured responses are intended to streamline your responses, reducing wasted effort that is often associated with open-ended questions.
  • Response wizard only asks questions applicable to your investment, with customized follow-up questions based on your responses (a.k.a. asks "Smart Questions").
  • Previous responses are captured, providing the ability to quickly update your responses.
  • Institutional knowledge is preserved and accessible in a single location, lessening the impact of personnel changes within your own organization.
  • Provides a full view of the current boundaries of IP associated with your foundation-funded project.

IP Report

An IP Report collects information on three main topics:

  • The use, incorporation, development and access to Background IP.
  • The generation and management of Funded IP.
  • Phase appropriate, plans and intentions for further development of foundation-funded innovations.

IP Report, Continued

An IP Report is designed to assist you to perform the following:

  • Different forms of IP Rights (patent, copyright, trademark, rights in data) that may be applicable to your foundation-funded projects whether they be:
  • Currently in existence; or
  • Potential future innovations
  • Relevant Agreements
  • Agreements that define your rights, as well as the rights of third parties, in regard to IP associated with your foundation-funded project.
  • Obstacles
  • An opportunity to consider and address potential obstacles to the achievement of Global Access for foundation-funded innovations.
  • Initial due diligence
  • The Global Access Portal and IP Reports will serve as a touchstone for the foundation’s due diligence review with regards to IP.
  • Ongoing recertification
  • The Global Access Portal and IP Reports will provide a regular opportunity to review and confirm past certifications made with regard to Global Access and address any changes as needed.
  • Project goals
  • If project goals change, the Global Access Portal and IP Reports provide an easy means of communicating how the change in project goals impacts Global Access commitments.
  • Provides a starting point to realize end-to-end impact from discovery to delivery.
  • If applicable, provides a forum to display how simultaneous realization of additional commercial markets will be achieved consistent with Global Access commitments.
  • IP Rights, agreements, project goals and plans may change over time and can be easily updated as they evolve.

Maximizing Impact through Global Access

The foundation is results-oriented. At the end of all the work we do, we want to make sure that the developed product comes into the markets we serve - the charitable markets - and is of real and meaningful benefit to those populations. Generating IP is not the goal of Global Access, but where IP is generated, we want to see it leveraged as a strategic tool for achieving Global Access. The diligent management of IP can help maximize impact by:

  • IP provides a useful way to distinguish our charitable markets from other commercial markets.
  • IP also provides important opportunities for leveraging commercial markets in order to serve charitable ones:
  • IP can create a source of revenue for our grantee partners and their own partners that can be used to support the further development of technologies or products and product delivery. In this way, IP can incentivize partners from all sectors in both the development of a product and in the delivery of that product.
  • By establishing from the outset who holds the rights to the technologies necessary to drive innovation, IP also plays a major role in forming the foundation's many partnerships and global collaborations. It helps identify which partners might be in the best position to collaborate with each other in the research and development and how that technology is to be delivered once developed.

The Global Access Portal helps us and our partners ensure no matter what role IP may play, with all the investments we make, IP is managed to achieve Global Access.

Global Access In Action

Click on the images above to learn more.

FAQ

Click here to view a sample IP report.

PURPOSE

  • Global Access is a concept developed by the foundation to ensure foundation-funded projects and the results of these projects reach the people we want to serve. Fundamentally, we want to share the tangible results of our funding at an affordable cost, in sufficient volume, at a level of quality, and in a time frame that most benefits the people we’re trying to reach. We also believe strongly in the value of sharing knowledge and information gained to benefit our target populations. Within the Global Health and Global Development programs, the people we want to help are the poor and distressed living in developing countries, and within U.S. Programs, we aim to help low income and minority students, as well as the educational systems, and public libraries serving those communities.

    To achieve Global Access, it is critical to manage IP (patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and rights in data) and the associated rights ("IP Rights") created or connected with foundation funding. IP Reports are forms that allow us to identify such IP, understand how our partners plan to work with us to achieve Global Access, and provide updates on how the Global Access commitments given to the foundation are being fulfilled.
  • IP Reports provide the foundation with a clearer understanding of the specific IP Rights that will be accessed, are expected to arise, or have arisen from each funded project, and the plan for managing those IP Rights to achieve Global Access.

    Additionally, IP Reports identify rights held by third parties, which we evaluate to confirm they will not interfere with the objective of making products or services available and accessible to our intended beneficiaries.

    The foundation collects information regarding IP Rights only as necessary and appropriate to enable proper establishment and monitoring of Global Access commitments.
  • The foundation’s approach to IP is guided by the dual principles of Global Access - namely, the sharing of knowledge and technical advancements. We apply a project-specific strategy for assuring adequate supply, pricing, and the required partnerships to achieve the charitable objectives of our investments.

    In limited instances, this strategy may require the foundation reserve a license to IP Rights that arise as a result of foundation-funded activities undertaken by your project. When a license is reserved, it is to ensure that either the foundation or a sub-licensee has the IP Rights necessary for the development, manufacture, and distribution of foundation-funded advancements in targeted markets to achieve Global Access.
  • The foundation’s default position is not to take ownership of IP Rights, with limited exceptions, such as when we take ownership of the copyright in report or a white paper we contract for. Nor does the foundation systematically take a license to IP Rights. This is because partners receive foundation funding to create or further develop products, technology, processes, or data in exchange for a commitment to comply with Global Access principles in managing related IP Rights.
  • IP Rights, whether owned by our partners or third parties, that will be used, incorporated or further developed in the course of a foundation-funded project must be evaluated to ensure they do not interfere with making available and accessible products or services in terms of cost, quantity, supply, or delivery to our intended beneficiaries.

    As part of its due diligence review, the foundation requires prospective partners to identify relevant pre-existing IP and the associated IP Rights. The foundation evaluates this information to assess the ability of a prospective partner to effectively manage the IP Rights associated with the proposed project in such a way that will achieve Global Access.
  • No, the foundation will not assert ownership of pre-existing IP used in a foundation-funded project. However, partners who receive foundation funding to create or further develop products, technology, processes or data are required to make a commitment to comply with the foundation’s Global Access principles in managing related IP Rights, including pre-existing IP that is used, incorporated, or further developed in the course of carrying out a foundation-funded project.
  • In most instances, the foundation will not seek a royalty on foundation-funded IP Rights that you license. Instead, we focus on your commitment to comply with Global Access principles in managing related IP Rights arising from foundation funding. As long as the license you grant to a third party does not interfere with your Global Access commitments of ensuring the availability and accessibility of products or services in terms of cost, quantity, supply or delivery to our intended beneficiaries, such commercial activities are consistent with our approach to IP and philosophy on the sharing of knowledge and new technologies.
  • The foundation reserves a license to IP Rights that arise from your project where we deem it necessary to ensure that either the foundation or a sub-licensee has the IP Rights necessary for the development, manufacture, and distribution of foundation-funded advancements to targeted markets to achieve Global Access.

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE INFORMATION?

  • The foundation monitors further developments only to the extent necessary to ensure compliance with the commitments made regarding Global Access and the associated management of IP Rights. For example, it is not the foundation’s objective to track each step in the prosecution of a patent application, but we require updates on the general status of the application at the time of reporting and to be informed of the filing of any new relevant applications.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS?

  • Information requested on an IP Report includes the identification of IP Rights (patents, copyrights, trademarks and rights in data) that are expected to be or have been used, incorporated, created, or further developed in the course of your project. This may include Background IP which, though not created by foundation funding, is necessary to perform work under the project or otherwise to achieve Global Access. IP Reports also request information regarding your plans for further development involving any IP Rights, in addition to any agreements about the establishment, use, or management of IP Rights.

    There is no need to disclose IP not used, incorporated, created, or further developed in the course of your project.
  • The frequency of IP Reports will ultimately depend on the activities to be undertaken on your specific project. Prospective partners are asked to submit an initial IP Report as part of the foundation’s due diligence process. Once the foundation has made an investment, subsequent IP Reports to certify or update past responses will be requested no more frequently than annually.
  • The foundation seeks a level of detail sufficient to identify IP Rights and related agreements to ensure proper establishment and monitoring of Global Access commitments. This identifying information is often comparable to bibliographic information available from publicly accessible databases (e.g. USPTO, PATENTSCOPE, TESS, ROMARIN). Requested related agreements include agreements concerning the establishment, use, or management of IP Rights. (e.g., licenses, material transfer agreements, collaboration agreements).
  • IP Reports are cumulative, allowing you to view past responses and certify or update as needed. IP Reports are structured to minimize data entry. The current IP Report due is prepopulated with information you disclosed on your most recently submitted IP Report.
  • The Principal Investigator or Primary Contact for an investment is responsible for filling out the IP Report. The Principal Investigator or Primary Contact can appoint an IP Contact to assist with completing the IP Report. An IP Contact is the person to whom you delegate authority to represent your organization in IP-related issues (e.g., your legal counsel or an individual in your Office of Technology Transfer). If so designated by the Principal Investigator or Primary Contact, your IP Contact will have access to the Global Access portal to review, edit, and submit responses on your behalf about IP related to your project.

ACCESS AND PRIVACY

  • IP Reports are viewable by internal foundation staff. Your IP Report will be reviewed by the foundation’s Legal department and be viewable by other foundation staff. IP Reports are managed in a similar manner to other reports you submit to the foundation, such as Progress or Final Reports.
  • You can get your IP lawyer and/or Technology Transfer Office contact to complete the IP Report by appointing those individual(s) as your IP Contact in the IP Report. An IP Contact is the person to whom you delegate authority to represent your organization in IP-related issues. Your IP Contact will have the ability to report on IP related to your project and to review, edit, and submit responses on your behalf. You will have ability to update or change your IP Contact as needed.
  • No, there are currently no plans to share your data, in any form—whether aggregated or attributable to your organization, with the public.

Our grantees and partners are at the core of our mission and work. We are most effective when we are working together with partners to achieve the shared impact we all desire.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
"Global Access" means: (a) the knowledge and information gained from the Project will be promptly and broadly disseminated; and (b) the Funded Developments will be made available and accessible at an affordable price (i) to people most in need within developing countries, or (ii) in support of the U.S. educational system and public libraries, as applicable to the Project.
"Funded Development" means the products, services, processes, technologies, materials, software, data, other innovations, and Intellectual Property resulting from the Project (including modifications, improvements, and further developments to Background Technology).
"Funded IP" means Intellectual Property covering any and all products, services, processes, technologies, materials, software, data or other innovations resulting from the project (including modifications, improvements and further developments to Background Technology).
“Funded IP” means IP covering any Funded Development.
"Background Technology" means any and all products, services, processes, technologies, materials, software, data, other innovations, and Intellectual Property created by you or a third party prior to or outside of the Project used as part of the Project.
"Background IP" means Intellectual Property covering any and all products, services, processes, technologies, materials, software, data or other innovations that are created by you or a third party prior to or outside of the Project used as part of the Project.
“Background IP” means IP covering any Background Technology.
"Background Third Party IP" means Background IP owned by a third party.
"IP Rights" (or "IP" or "Intellectual Property") means Intellectual Property and all associated rights, applications and registrations, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and rights in data.
An "IP Contact" is the person to whom you delegate authority to represent your organization in IP-related issues (e.g., your legal counsel or an individual in the Office of Technology Transfer). Your IP Contact will have access to your project to and review and edit responses on your behalf.
An "IP Report" serves to identify how the proposed work under the project will fulfill the foundation's Global Access objective. Information requested includes the identification of IP Rights used, incorporated, further developed or created in the course of your project and any related agreements, in addition to plans for further development involving those IP Rights. This information is collected for foundation use only and on a non-confidential basis.
As used in the Global Access portal, a "Technology" is an innovation or subject matter for which IP protection can exist. It is a means of grouping IP pertaining to a single matter. A Technology is comprised of basic identifying information: a title/description and the inventor(s)/authors depending on the subject matter.

We welcome any questions and all feedback you have about Global Access. You can reach us directly at [email protected]on.org.