Bill Gates is in New York to speak at the U.N. about the
Millennium Development Goals(MDG), which is a set of objectives to improve education, health, and living conditions in poorer nations.
Ahead of his talk, he sat down with five reporters, including myself, at the Four Seasons hotel to chat about his foundation, the MDGs, and progress towards making life better for people around the world.
With his focus on global health, as well as his tangled relationship with Google, I wanted to get his take on Calico, Google’s new company that’s going to try to cure death.
Basically, he shrugged. He says lots of startups are focused on the same thing.
Here is the tiny Q&A on the subject:
Business Insider: Your work is focused on poorer nations, but I wanted to get your take on Google’s new health and ageing company, Calico. Do you think Google should be focused on developing nations instead of trying to solve a problem that is largely aimed at rich nations?
Bill Gates: How much money did they put toward it?
BI: I don’t think they even announced that.
BG: What’s most notable is that you’re paying attention. Google’s invested in dozens of things of various types. At some point we’ll see how much money, or what it is. Art Levinson, who’s being connected with this is an amazing guy.
Now, ex-pharma, guys who do a good job running pharma companies and then back biotech startups, it’s a mixed record, but the number of biotechs that work on ageing is large — and they actually have funding, and people and drugs and things like that.
So this one, it doesn’t relate to global health. I’m not saying everyone should just drop everything and just do global health.
BG: It’s fine, I know only about it what I read in the press, but it doesn’t connect to anything else. They’re not out of money, they still have more money they could give to help poor people.
BI: You want them to do that? I assume you want everyone to give more to poor people.
BG: Sure, but that doesn’t mean to criticise someone that’s investing in Alzheimer’s, or cancer. Those diseases are huge global problems. It’s just that we have a market mechanism that works. So that our very finite foundation money will have an incremental impact on say, some cancer, when the NCI spends $US6 billion a year. That’s way bigger than we are.
Pharma spends on cancer drugs about $US20 billion a year. I’m very very glad that stuff happens. That’s why we can take the infectious disease which is strangely neglected because the people that get that stuff that don’t have much money.