Bill Gates: A New Approach to Capitalism in the 21st Century

Transcript of Gates speech, and a Q&A at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

Schwab: Would you see -- you speak about a transformation, a gradual transformation, hopefully gradually in a very fast sense, but what could governments do in order to enhance this transformation, for example, tax regimes or do you see any -- would you have any advice for governments?

Gates: Well, I mentioned in the speech the thing that happened in the United States. It didn't get much visibility, which is this fast track grant in the FDA.

I didn't mention this idea of advanced market commitment, which has now been applied to a particular vaccine for pneumonia and pneumococcal vaccine there's a fund of a billion and a half dollars -- virtually all government money, a little bit of foundation money -- that is out there for any manufacturer that can meet the product specification. And in that case we picked a development that should be reasonably within the reach of a couple of the drug companies, and so it should get them to make the leap to make the modifications to the rich world vaccine to add a few things to it and make it suitable for the developing world markets, and yet be able to tier that so it's not taking away from what they're doing today.

So, advance market commitment is one of the great new ideas, and I think we'll see that applied in a number of new ways.

You know, we have the Doha trade agreement which has some provisions that are to help the developing countries, so it would be kind of tragic if those things can't be resolved. I mean, the benefits of allowing trade over time accrue to be even bigger than a lot of the direct aid that gets done.

Schwab: Let me ask you a last question, Bill. Now you are doing yourself this transition into a new function, and you leave behind a legacy of having transformed the world into I would say an information society.

Now if you look forward at your next career step -- career may be not the right word here -- but at your next life phase, what would you like to see as your legacy in 10, 15 years?

Gates: Of the new work?

Schwab: Of the new work, of your new function.

Gates: Well, I've set very ambitious goals, because I'm quite optimistic. If you look at say the 20 diseases that our global health program goes after, I'd hope that within 15 years over half of those we could have had a very dramatic impact.

Some of them will prove to be harder than others. For example, AIDS we will have made an improvement, but not the dramatic improvement probably in that timeframe. Malaria perhaps, and a number of the other ones we have things in the pipeline.

So, huge change in the mortality rates in the developing countries, which then has this effect of reducing population growth. That's this big benefit that then makes everything like education and nutrition a lot easier.

So, I have very high expectations there, and we actually use these dashboards internally at the foundation to make everything be quite numeric. We're trying to be rigorous about that, and even share those so that people can see, oh, you fell short of what you had in mind, and then we get to explain if we have any lessons that might be learnable from other foundations.

So, I think there are some things about how we go about things that I hope those learnings can have an impact. There is the specific work in different divisions: health, development, and the U.S. education work.

But in 15 years, boy, by then we will have spent a lot of money. At US$3 billion a year, and 15 years, that adds up, and for that people should have a very high expectation of what we can do.

Schwab: Thank you, Bill, for having brought to us this evening a very enlightened view of capitalism. I hope many will follow you. We will facilitate it in any case, because that's the mission of the World Economic Forum. And I'm looking forward to, if I may say so, to welcome you back in your new incarnation next year. Thank you.

Gates: Thank you.

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Bill Gates

Network World

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