With more than one and a half-year into the fight against the deadly coronavirus, many are wondering, why are Bill Gates, George Soros, and a consortium of investors buying a UK Covid testing tech startup company for $41 million? Do they expect coronavirus to be with us for the foreseeable future?
According to a press release yesterday, the company they’re investing in is Mologic, a UK-based biotech startup company that develops point-of-care diagnostic devices. The consortium includes a group of philanthropic funds and investors led by the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF), with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The group also announced the launch of Global Access Health (GAH), a social enterprise that will seek to expand access to affordable medical technology through decentralized research, development, and manufacturing in and for the global south. “The members of GAH will invest at least £30 million ($41 million) in this deal,” the press release reads.
Mologic was founded by a team of father and son Paul and Mark Davis (with a striking resemblance to Pinky and the Brain established Mologic to do as much good as possible in healthcare and education). They want to improve patient care and quality of life and break new ground in exciting fields of research (unlike Pinky and the Brain who wanted to take over the world), the company said on their website.
The acquisition was done to increase access to “affordable state-of-the-art medical technology” via a rapid ‘lateral flow’ test, which offers an early-warning screening for Covid-19, as negative tests are going to be increasingly required to go back to ‘normal life’ – along with one’s vaccine passport of course.
Mologic was established in 2003 by Mark Davis and his father Professor Paul Davis, one of the original creators of ClearBlue, the world’s first home pregnancy test. Mologic’s technology has broad application across markets and disease states where rapid, accurate point-of-need testing can help make a significant difference in patient care and patient outcomes. Its extensive work in developing affordable testing for neglected tropical diseases has been supported by grant funding from a range of donors, and most significantly by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mark Davis, CEO of Mologic, welcomed the conclusion of the deal: “Mologic’s transition into a social enterprise is a deliberate, logical, and natural step for a company focused on delivering affordable diagnostics and biotechnology to places that have been left underserved by the relentless pursuit of profiteering. With the support of our shareholders, donors, and partners we have come a long way; we believe we have the people and the skills required for the challenges and opportunities ahead. And we hope this unique transaction will be an example for others to follow.”
“Testing, or diagnostics, are vital for everyday public health needs, to enable doctors and medical professionals to provide patients with proper treatment as early as possible,” said Roxana Bonnell, a public health expert at the Open Society Foundations. “As we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, access to testing is absolutely essential when it comes to containing the spread of contagious disease—an issue that ultimately affects us all.”
The Open Society Foundations was founded by its chairman George Soros. The foundation is the world’s largest private funder of human rights and social justice advocacy groups. The Soros Economic Development Fund, established in 1997, pursues impact investments that are aligned with Open Society’s broader mission, and currently holds 35 investments totaling c.$300m.