George Soros and Bill Gates are part of a consortium acquiring a British developer of rapid-testing technology, including for Covid-19 and tropical diseases, to turn it into a social enterprise.
The group, led by the Soros Economic Development Fund, an investment division of the billionaire philanthropist’s Open Society Foundations, is investing at least £30 million in Mologic, which develops lateral flow and fast diagnostic technologies.
The acquisition will mean that Mologic, a for-profit company based in Bedford, will become a social enterprise called Global Access Health. The deal will allow it to reinvest its profits to help to combat gaps in the provision of global diagnostics in low-income communities and regions that “profit-focused business has failed to address”.
Mologic was co-founded in 2003 by Mark Davis, 45, and his father, Paul Davis, 74, a creator of the original ClearBlue pregnancy test.
Mark Davis, who is its chief executive, said that the deal was a “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.”
Alongside Soros, 90, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is backing the buyout of the company, whose main shareholders were Foresight Group and Calculus Capital.
Sean Hinton, chief executive of the Soros Economic Development Fund, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has painfully demonstrated the fundamental inequities in global public health and, in particular, the crucial importance of access in low and middle-income countries to low-price, high-quality, life-saving diagnostic tools.”
The Open Society Foundations, founded and chaired by Soros, 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 and holds 35 investments totalling about $300 million.