Thursday, December 16, 2004

Pull, don't push

A couple of weeks ago, Gordon Brown, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, made a promise. The United Kingdom, he said, would buy up to three hundred million doses of a new malaria vaccine for the developing world. It was a welcome sign that the West is finally paying attention to the most important problem in global public health; namely, the spread of infectious diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and aids. It was also something else: a dramatic innovation in the way those diseases are fought.

That’s because the vaccine that the U.K. promised to buy doesn’t exist yet.

James Surowiecki in the New Yorker about why Brown’s approach works better at inspiring innovation than “push funding”, in which “the government chooses among various options and gives its favorites a push.” Read the full thing.

And if you haven’t read it yet, Surowiecki’s book, The Wisdom of Crowds, is one of the best books of the year. Check it out.

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