The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the European Commission (EC) today promised to cooperate in developing new treatments for poverty-related diseases that include HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The foundation and EC created a new strategic partnership for research on poverty-related diseases affecting more than 1 billion people worldwide, through an agreement signed yesterday in Paris by foundation co-founder Bill Gates and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European commissioner for research and innovation.

The agreement commits the partners to accelerating the development of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics in developing countries by spending on R&D, while also developing affordable and sustainable means of bringing those treatments to those in greatest need quickly.

Among broader objectives articulated by the agreement are engaging in basic life sciences research, developing cross-sector technology and platforms enabling safer and faster development of drugs and vaccines, addressing maternal health, and supporting preclinical work.

The Commission and the foundation agreed to jointly fund clinical development of new tools to treat and prevent HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other neglected infectious diseases such as diarrheal diseases, Buruli ulcer, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis and sleeping sickness.

According to the EC, much of this work will be carried out through the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), a flagship initiative of the EU, with currently 16 European and 30 Sub-Saharan African partner countries involved.

The agreement also commits the Gates Foundation and EC to “supporting Phase I, II, III, and IV clinical trials particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa while creating sustainable research collaborations and networks between European and African countries.” In addition, the partners promised to promote “capacity development”—the ability to set and achieve development goals—to eliminate or reduce poverty; and sustainably improve Sub-Saharan African capacity for self-development by means of science and technology.

The key question of how much will be spent to achieve the agreement’s objectives won’t begin to be answered until next year, when the EC approves its Horizon 2020 research program. Horizon 2020 will include in part funding for initiatives called for under the agreement, within the budget for Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn’s research and innovation directorate.

Between 2007 and 2011, the Gates Foundation and EC have spent a combined €2.4 billion ($3.1 billion) on R&D in poverty-related diseases—activity they said supported development of more than 20 new and enhanced treatments.

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