The legal and policy frameworks that govern innovation and commercialization can either constrain or facilitate the development and application of innovative technologies to tackle poverty, disease, hunger, and ignorance. Thus, Global Access in Action, a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, conducts action-oriented research into access to lifesaving medicines, and alternative incentives for the development of medical treatments for underserved populations. Improving access and promoting socially beneficial innovation are key strategies for combatting the communicable disease burden that disproportionately harms the world’s most vulnerable populations.
We of course are not unique in this ambition; many organizations have similar goals. However, our approach is unusual in the following respects:
Pragmatism: We seek to identify reforms that will have meaningful beneficial impact and can be implemented soon.
Interdisciplinary orientation: We look for guidance to methodologies developed in many disciplines—including law, medicine, political science, economics, and sociology.
Multi-institutional orientation: Although we are interested and experienced in law reform, we do not assume that adjusting legal rules is always the best way to help the poor; we are equally interested in initiatives or reforms that rely upon private firms or NGOs, and upon collaborations between governmental and nongovernmental actors.
Neutrality: We are neither affiliated with nor funded by any organizations with financial interests in this area. Our only ideological commitment is to the reduction of human suffering.