Impact investing offers more potential than ever before, with innovative financing methods that can direct capital with increasing efficiency.
Even if the year 2022 was marked by crises, it has nevertheless enabled significant advances in the fields of science and innovation. The field of oncology research, cancer prevention and treatment has also progressed, and recent advances offer real opportunities in 2023. Impact investing offers more potential than ever, with innovative financing methods that can channel capital with increasing efficiency.
Advances in cancer primarily concern the effective use of mRNA vaccines to rapidly develop and adapt vaccines against Covid-19. This advance underscores the potential of immuno-oncology, ie activation of the immune system, in the treatment of cancer. Originally developed by cancer research, the use of this medical science in the context of the pandemic has greatly expanded knowledge and infrastructure in the field.
Second, digitization efforts during the pandemic have also benefited oncology. Some organizations have virtualized their processes, including the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), the world’s leading non-profit organization to fight cancer. UICC has invested heavily in its digital platform, creating a “virtual dialogue format” that allows the global cancer community to stay connected during this time.
AI: a chance to follow in 2023
Artificial intelligence opens up promising avenues in early cancer detection.
Let’s take the example of “Interception”, an AI project in oncology led by the Gustave Roussy Institute1one of the leading cancer research institutes in Europe2. The project aims to detect malignancies earlier than traditional methods, which would identify 30% to 40% of future high-risk cancer patients up to ten years before the standard diagnosis.
For future patients, the benefits are obvious: early detection is the best way to increase their life expectancy and well-being.
New approaches to mobilizing resources and funds
Innovative work is also being done to mobilize resources, expertise and networks to reduce inequalities between countries in the face of cancer
One way to follow in this area is the Access to Oncology Medicines Coalition (ATOM), launched in 2022 to “reduce preventable pain and cancer-related deaths in low- and middle-income countries by increasing access to essential cancer medicines at an affordable price is improved price and training in its use”.
ATOM partners with pharmaceutical companies to map their drug portfolios and improve their access in ATOM’s target countries. Going forward, ATOM intends to engage diagnostics companies and reduce transaction and deployment costs, particularly through a unique drug registration process. In this way, biopharmaceutical companies and manufacturers of generics and diagnostics could open up new markets and become agents of change parallel to their core business.
In general, more innovative financing methods have also been introduced. The creation of the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm) in 2003, which issues bonds to borrow funds against future donor commitments for the rapid delivery of vaccines, enabled hundreds of millions of children to be immunized3.
The Value of Impact Investing in Cancer
In a world where environmental, social and governance criteria are increasingly important to investors, different sectors can work together to create innovative financial mechanisms that deliver high social impact, better patient outcomes and attractive returns. For clients wishing to engage in philanthropic activities, structures such as umbrella foundations are essential tools to effectively channel capital. The expertise and strategic relationships these foundations have forged with key organizations are critical to the success of these activities.
At present, the combination of several factors tends to increase cancer incidence: population growth and aging, urbanization and the obesity epidemic. More than ever, cancer can affect anyone. It is therefore important to prioritize the development of innovative financial solutions in order to limit their impact.
This article summarizes the remarks made by Maximilian Martin during his speech at Economist Impact’s 8th annual World Cancer Series Europe conference in October 2022. UICC and the Institut Gustave Roussy are beneficiaries of the Fondation Philanthropia.
2 See Suzette Delaloge, 2021, Description of the Interception Project, Institut Gustave Roussy, Paris.
3 history | International Financing Facility for Immunization (IFFIm)