Procter & Gamble: Dr Philip Souter & Dr Greg Allgood, Winners of The Economist's Social and Economic Innovation Award 2012




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Video title: Procter & Gamble: Dr Philip Souter & Dr Greg Allgood, Winners of The Economist's Social and Economic Innovation Award 2012
Released on: November 21, 2012. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, filmed at The Economist's Innovation Awards 2012 at BAFTA in London, Fintan Walton talks to Dr Philip Souter & Dr Greg Allgood from Procter & Gamble, winners of the 2012 Social and Economic Innovation Award about their development of a simple water purification process.
Philip's invention in purification of water
Fintan Walton :
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at the Economist's Innovation Awards 2012, here at BAFTA. On this show I have Phil Souter and Greg Allgood both from Procter & Gamble, welcome.
Greg Allgood :
Thank you.
Philip Souter :
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Well you guys have just won an award here at the Economist Innovation Awards and that award is for social innovation, Phil, you are the inventor, part of the accolade goes to, tell me what brought you to the invention, and what is the invention?
Philip Souter :
Okay, well the invention is a sachet of a powder that's able to purify water, so it's able to take contaminated sources of drinking water, so for instance well water, stream water, flood water and render that safe to drink. In terms of what brought me to the invention, I was working in Procter & Gamble and I was asked to come up with new ideas for new products outside of the businesses where we were working at that time, and I had of, my background is I am a chemist, I had been working in the field of laundry and I have become interested in how to recycle spent laundry water, because it was clear there was a lot of water shortages that were impacting very much the lives of people in developing world, when I was asked to move into this new field I thought I could reapply lot of that chemistry into making this product.
What distinguishes Philip's invention from other approaches to water purification?
Fintan Walton:
Right, now of course there are different ways of purifying water, and as a chemist looking at this problem what brought you to the invention and what distinguishes your invention from other approaches to purification?
Philip Souter :
Yes, I might think people are quite familiar with a lot of chlorine tablets, iodine tablets people who travel, I think what we are looking to do a variety of things, so we are looking to make sure that we clarify the water and made it safe to drink, so clarified and disinfected and there a lot of different approaches have been tried to this, filtration, chemical treatment. One of the key criteria, success criteria was really to make sure was as cheap as possible because the target consumer, by definition almost, was living in rural parts of developing world where their disposable income is very low. So that was a very important part of it, and then really it was a question of trying to use the types of chemistry that we use to treat our municipal drinking water, so what you get out of the tap, and convert that into something that the consumer could use in their home to make their own drinking water safe.
Fintan Walton:
Right, and of course the other important thing is what can it actually purify out, because it's not just one or two things, it can purify a lot of things out, so what was the characteristics of the invention that allowed you to capture 99% of those things you want to get rid of?
Philip Souter :
Yes I mean, it's quite a challenge now, I mean a lot of the inventions have been made over the years in terms of how the water that comes into our own home were treated, but I think while that's a continuous process and what you can custom add the chemicals to exactly that water source, the challenge was to try to get a one size fits all sachet to deliver that kind of level of purification and the kinds of things we are looking to remove were obviously the sort of cysts bacteria viruses, but in addition to that organic matter, heavy metals, pesticides, these kinds of things as well.
Fintan Walton:
Quite a big challenge?
Philip Souter :
Yes quite a big challenge, but you know quite an important one too.
P&G's partnership with Not-for-profit organisations and business model
Fintan Walton:
Where you are successful, indeed. Now Greg, you are also part of Procter & Gamble, but this invention did several things, it basically invented Procter & Gamble to go into a whole new area, and that is in the social side and you are now head up that, could you tell us a little bit about how that invention then lead to Procter & Gamble taking on its social responsibilities globally?
Greg Allgood :
Yes Fintan, so Phil and I were part of a commercial team that were trying to provide the packets, and we're going into places like Guatemala, and Kenya, and Pakistan and we had actually a team of 30 people and we were investing about $10 million a year and people loved the product, literally will get down on their knees sometimes they'd beg us for it, but we were losing money because we were investing so much to reach them that it was not only, not for profit it was losing a lot of money. So I asked the company to have a very small team, just a few couple of people and provide it through people that are already in those remote areas, safe drinking water partners like PSI, and World Vision, Save the Children and CARE, so we partnered with them and that was our model, not try to do it ourselves but to work with these humanitarian organizations. We went from providing a million packets a year when we were doing it ourselves to 20 million, and then 40 million, and then 60 million, last year we provided a 130 million packets more than a billion liters of clean drinking water, and so far we have provided more than 5 billion liters, so the model works, not do it ourselves but doing it in partnership with other groups that are already there.
Impact in terms of saving lives and P&G's approach towards the invented product
Fintan Walton:
Right, and obviously the approach is different for a company, a very successful commercial company like Procter & Gamble and do you have any idea of what impact that has had in terms of lives?
Greg Allgood :
We do, so we have worked with the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US to get an algorithm of, we know where the product goes, they know the burden of a disease, we've done the gold standard of science, randomized control trials and know what the reduction disease burden would be, so we can calculate what's the number of life saved, and what's the number of days of diarrhea averted, is more than a 160 million days of diarrhea that have been averted because of the product, and tens of thousands of lives have been saved because of Phil's invention, it's really remarkable and because of the company's commitment to this, but also all of our partners that are providing it, and most importantly to the beneficiaries, the women and the children, who use this as a tool to help their families to safe guard their water. This is a huge issue, now more kids die from diarrhea than HIV/Aids and malaria combined, from something as simple as lack of a glass of clean drinking water. So that's what Phil's invention did, it gave us a way to provide clean drinking water and stop the fact that 2000 kids die every day from diarrheal illness.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, and Phil did you ever appreciate that that was going to happen when you were inventing?
Philip Souter :
Well I always like to dream, but I mean I think it is one of the advantages of working for actually a big company in the sense that we were able to go out and try a lot of things as Greg was alluding to, we ran a lot of clinical trials to really convince the medical community and the thought leaders that the science was sound it's so very well to have something that gives clean drinking water, but if people don't use it properly, don't comply it's no good. So the fact we were able to trace from invention through, if you like medical validation and then all the way through to a successful business model has been very inspiring.
Fintan Walton:
Right and championing ideas through large corporations is difficult to do sometimes, at the best of times.
Philip Souter :
Sometimes.
Fintan Walton:
And so, you know you have to put some effort into this, there is no doubt isn't it on an individual basis, so how did you feel about changing the way Procter & Gamble was taking and it's approach to a particular product that it invented?
Greg Allgood :
It was definitely about to do something that novel to create, essentially a corporate overhead are not for profit effort within a for profit company is not easy, so we had to prove that we are adding shareholder value to the company, and now our company absolutely agrees that the shareholder value that we have from doing it as a not for profit is greater than if we would have had a commercial success, why? One is just our own employees, everybody wants to work for a company that's doing good and they are seeing us literally saving lives, we are learning about new business models, so some of the groups, though we don't make a profit we provide it for not for profit groups, but we provide it for example in some cases through women to women selling, and now they are not only selling the P&G packets, but they are selling PAMPERS and ALWAYS and other things that also improves lives but help us expand into areas we've never been before, and we are getting lots of recognition not only this Economist's Social Innovation Award which is amazing and fantastic, but also last year Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton awarded as twice for our work in Pakistan and Nigeria for providing safe drinking water, which gives us you know helps our company and our business in going into new white spaces for example, so it definitely adds more value now than we ever believed would have been possible when Phil first invented it.
Fintan Walton:
Well Phil, and Greg congratulations once again.
Philip Souter :
Thank you very much Fintan.
Greg Allgood :
Thank you.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Philip Souter
Section Head
At the time of this PTV interview Philip Souter serves as Section Head, Strategic Innovation & Technology - R&D at Procter & Gamble.
Greg Allgood
Director
At the time of this PTV interview Greg Allgood serves as Director of Procter & Gamble's Children's Safe Drinking Water. Dr. Greg Allgood is Director, Children's Safe Drinking Water (CSDW), at Procter & Gamble and Senior Fellow in Sustainability. He leads P&G's efforts to provide safe drinking water in the developing world using PUR Purifier of Water. He has a Ph.D. in Toxicology from North Carolina State University and a Master of Science in Public Health from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, where he did research in the water area. Dr Allgood is chair of the advocacy and communications working group of WHO's International Network to Promote Household Water Treatment and Safe. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Health Working Group of the Clinton Global Initiative. The CSDW program has won numerous awards including the Ron Brown US Presidential Award for Corporate Citizenship and the United Nations Association Global Leadership Award. Dr. Allgood is a frequent lecturer on public/private partnerships, sustainability, and safe drinking water.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
Procter & Gamble
The Procter & Gamble together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and sale of a range of branded consumer packaged goods. The company operates in five segments: Beauty, Grooming, Health Care, Fabric Care and Home Care, and Baby Care and Family Care. The company markets its products through mass merchandisers, grocery stores, membership club stores, drug stores, high-frequency stores, department stores, perfumeries, pharmacies, salons, and e-commerce in approximately 180 countries worldwide. The Procter & Gamble Company was founded in 1837 and is based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Procter & Gamble
The Procter & Gamble together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and sale of a range of branded consumer packaged goods. The company operates in five segments: Beauty, Grooming, Health Care, Fabric Care and Home Care, and Baby Care and Family Care. The Procter & Gamble Company was founded in 1837 and is based in Cincinnati, Ohio.