On Friday September 23, Gabi Zedlmayer, vice president of Global and Social Innovation at HP, and Dr. Alex Dehgan, Science and Technology Adviser to the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), participated in a panel on technology and innovation hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Daniel Runde, Director of the Project on Prosperity and Development at CSIS, moderated the discussion regarding technology and how it can be used to empower societies around the world and enhance international development. Listen to audio from the event here.
Zedlmayer and Dehgan opened the panel discussion by outlining three key operating principles and how they are manifested in their respective private and public sector roles.
Science and technology are key to prosperity. While most Americans enjoy unprecedented access to information, many in the global community lack access to basic necessities like health care. “We must look at this challenge as an opportunity,” urged Dehgan.
Zedlmayer explained how HP has “seized the opportunity” to apply innovation in a way that enriches communities, and she referenced HP’s work with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to significantly reduce the turnaround time from 2-3 months to just under 21 days for infant HIV test results in Kenya as a key example of HP’s work in this area.
The turnaround time for test results is especially critical, as infants diagnosed with HIV must begin anti-retroviral treatment as quickly as possible to ensure survival. Without immediate treatment, half of HIV-positive infants are unlikely to survive past age two.
Social development transcends politics and ideology. It’s global. Zedlmayer mentioned HP’s innovation work, with mPedigree in Ghana and Nigeria, that provides people in the developing world with a way to ensure their medication is authentic by using an application on their mobile phone, thus saving innocent lives from potentially hazardous counterfeit drugs. “This technology only works when the ecosystem works,” Zedlmayer said. “And we are all part of the ecosystem.” Zedlmayer encouraged that those in the “ecosystem,” which consists of government agencies, private corporations, NGO’s and individuals, work together to improve global social issues.
The two panelists addressed the importance of leveraging partnerships among the public and private sector, as well as within the global community. “The threat we face is bigger than any one agency or even country,” warned Dr. Dehgan.
Further emphasizing the importance of cross-sector alliances, Dr. Dehgan spoke of USAID’s existing partnerships with HP and expressed an interest “to do many more.”
Talent and creative ability are everywhere. We must unleash it. As part of enhancing HP’s impact on the global community, Zedlmayer has reached out to HP’s community of more than 320,000 employees worldwide to harness their many skills and talents. For example, HP’s entrepreneurship program, which according to Zedlmayer has placed thousands of jobs, operates in 47 countries and is offered in 20 different languages.
Both Zedlmayer and Dehgan expressed the need to expand the partnership between the private and public sector in order to make a visible impact in the developing world, but acknowledged that regulatory hurdles remain.
That’s not to say significant progress hasn’t been made, Zedlmayer explained. At the time of HP’s founding 70 years ago, it stood out as a unique model of a company that sought not only to enhance shareholder value, but to also cultivate social value. Today, Zedlmayer is happy to report, this model is far more prevalent among large private sector corporations.
Hear more from the panelists: