BOAO, Hainan, Mar 29 – Bill Gates is eyeing the creative potential that China has to offer, ranging from super rice to convenient vaccine storage facilities for remote areas.
The former president of Microsoft told Xinhua that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which he co-chairs with his wife, is cooperating with Chinese innovators, during an exclusive interview at the ongoing Boao Forum for Asia.
He said the foundation, which was established in 2000, was working with high-tech companies in China on research in areas such as productive rice and vaccine freezing.
“We are investing more and more money and have a lot of specific partnerships growing,” Gates said, identifying agriculture as a particular area that offered many opportunities.
“We were partner on the Green Super Rice [project], which is valuable not only here but also in Africa,” he said.
He mentioned another project with the Chinese fridge maker Aucma that was looking into portable storage for vaccines, and another research project on how to limit pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector.
These are projects that the entire world needs solving, Gates said.
“China’s capacity for biological and IT breakthroughs is growing very rapidly, and China is in many ways the world agriculture leader. There are many areas that we are not funding that have the potential to help other countries,” he said.
After leaving the corporate business world more than a decade ago, the richest man in the world threw himself into charity work.
The Seattle-based foundation focuses on health and poverty in developing countries.
Last year, it distributed $3.9 billion in grants.
Without disclosing how much the foundation would channel into China, Gates said the foundation was increasing its presence in the country where the government is stimulating innovation with no efforts spared.
In addition, the foundation’s talent incubator, Grand Challenges, will hold its annual conference in China for the first time later this year.
“We are challenging scientists in China to help find solutions for the poor,” Gates said.
Since the competition began 11 years ago, 21 Chinese innovators have had their ideas funded by the foundation.
“We would like to see that number increase,” Gates said. “So far China only accounts for 5 percent of submissions.”
In 2014, two Chinese projects, one on rapid detection of tuberculosis and another on thinner condoms, won the challenges.
China has identified innovation as a new driver of the economy. The central government earlier this week published a plan outlining how mass innovation would be stimulated.
It is great that the government is backing research and creating a framework for entrepreneurs, as this is exactly what it needs, Gates said.
Gates met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday in Boao to discuss public health and poverty reduction.