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PATH to use Hilton Humanitarian Prize for $25 million innovation fund
Posted by Kristi Heim
Seattle-based PATH announced today it has won the world's largest humanitarian award, the $1.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, for its work creating effective health technologies for the developing world.
Hilton Foundation Chief Executive Steven M. Hilton, who introduced the award during a press conference this morning, said PATH's work helping to develop 85 technologies, along with its commitment to sharing ideas and making sure products are sold at affordable prices, have had a profound impact on alleviating human suffering. More coverage of the award is here.
COURTESY OF PATH/PATRICK MCKERN
The prestigious award is well deserved recognition for the long-term efforts of its staff, who often work years before seeing the results, PATH Chief Executive Chris Elias said. PATH now has 850 employees working in 20 countries.
Its Seattle headquarters near the base of the Ballard Bridge buzzed with excitement as the news was announced this morning.
The award "will open many doors" for future goals, Elias said, and PATH plans to capitalize on the recognition to expand its partnerships around the world.
PATH will use the $1.5 million in prize money to seed an innovation fund aimed at investing in new technology and health interventions, he said. PATH will begin a five-year drive aimed at raising a total of $25 million for the innovation fund.
The non-profit has an annual budget of $250 million, 65 percent from foundations, 30 percent from governments, and 5 percent from global organizations. Only a small percent of the contributions are unrestricted, a portion Elias calls "innovation capital."
Through the innovation fund, Elias aims to raise the amount of flexible capital from about 3 percent to about 10 percent of PATH's budget.
PATH has used such capital in the past to set up an office in South Africa, which could then begin applying for grants and offering programs that had been successful in East Africa to address similar health problems. Five years later the South Africa office, focused on improving maternal and newborn health, has grown to one of PATH's largest, with a staff of more than 30 people.
"Innovation capital can respond to emerging needs and opportunities," he said.
One goal of the fund is to invest in taking technology innovations that come from 21st century scientific discoveries, such as new diagnostic tools, and applying them to affordable products for the developing world, he said.
The fund will also be used to increase the usage of essential health products PATH has developed and to expand its field presence, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, Elias said.
The Hilton Foundation will present the award to PATH formally at a Sept. 21 ceremony in Washington D.C with keynote speaker Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel laureate, founder of the Grameen Bank, and former Hilton Prize juror. PATH, which had been nominated for the Hilton award in the past, was the winner this year among about 200 nominees.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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