COVID-19 put a bright spotlight on the need for oxygen and highlighted stark inequities with the accessibility of oxygen especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). In response, The World Health Organization included oxygen on their list of“essential medicines”, resulting in increased attention to the issue from agencies and governments worldwide. However, despite a surge in funding, access to oxygen remains a challenge, and will likely worsen as the urgency around COVID-19 subsides. With a globally recognized need for oxygen evident, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Philips commissioned PATH to take the concept of Oxygen as a Utility (OAAU) and create an operational plan for the oxygen supplier industry to make LMICs oxygen self-sufficient.
“It’s time we make oxygen a front-and-center priority and use the tools at our disposal to make sure this seemingly “invisible” essential drug is readily available in developing countries, too, so that no child dies for lack of oxygen.”— Dr. Bernard Olayo, Physician, Public Health Specialist & Founder of Hewatele, Medical Advisor to UOC
To bring their vision to life, there was a need to convince a consortium of industry leaders to join the endeavor. Called the Universal Oxygen Coalition (UOC), members of the group share the belief that the need for oxygen is universal, and hopes to solve the problem of ensuring equitable and sustainable access with existing resources.
iF built a narrative pitch deck to help the UOC reimagine what a new paradigm in sustainable, innovation-driven oxygen business model might look like and to communicate their vision. The deck sought to answer the following questions and call the audience to action:
Using stakeholder interviews, landscape analysis, and desk research, iF delivered the deck to Phillips in time for them to begin sharing with potential investors and consortium members.
"OaaU is the future way of making LMIC countries oxygen self-sufficient. Then the access to oxygen in all care setting will be on demand, just like the developed world. This will reduce childhood mortality, strengthen the health care infrastructure and will make the country prepared for COVID like pandemic." — Dr. Andrew Omidvar, VP of Government R&D, Philips, UOC Founder.
Equipped with the tools necessary to rally the industry around this vision, the UOC set out to approach investors, business leaders, innovators, and policymakers. In August 2022, UOC was invited to Reimagining the Future of Global Development: A Moonshot Accelerator to Reach the SDGs in Mexico City, where OAAU was selected as one of five selected moonshots from an original field of 120+ entries. Success at the convening was followed by bilateral meetings with USAID to discuss a potential pilot program in Tanzania. There is also strong interest in featuring OAAU at DAVOS 2023. With the pitch deck iF built, and the wisdom from taking a hard look at their own story, Oxygen as a Utility is prepared to trailblaze a future where oxygen is available to all on demand.
“After spending almost a decade as Executive Venture Advisor for the Global Good Fund I was always in awe of the great work iF did for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. iF’s years of global public health assignments is key, as our partner for “Oxygen as a Utility” in terms of communicating the clear benefits of a new business model. “Buying Oxygen..Not Equipment” can make countries and populations oxygen self-sufficient.” – Bruce Goldstein, CEO Universal Management, UOC founder