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Health data could form the basis of a UK sovereign wealth fund

Health data could form the basis of a UK sovereign wealth fund

#Health #data #form #basis #sovereign #wealth #fund Welcome to InNewCL, here is the new story we have for you today:

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The author is a fellow at the Center for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge

King Charles recently decided that the wealth created by the wind blowing across the crownlands should be shared more widely with the public. It is estimated that this could generate up to £1 billion a year. What other assets do we have in the UK that are collectively owned and should be harvested for the common good?

In 1990 Norway set up a sovereign wealth fund to store the wealth generated annually from oil. The value of this fund varies by market but is said to have reached $1 trillion during the recent boom and is being used to protect the country’s economy. Could we create a coronation fund in Britain to collect and use fortunes from our own collective fortune?

An opportunity has arisen, partly as a result of IT skills being developed in the NHS, to help fight Covid-19. The NHS collects valuable and diverse patient data, which is stored in geographically dispersed and legally federated trusts, each managed separately. The newly developed secure data sharing technology used during the pandemic now allows it to be shared between trusts and, more broadly, with researchers. This is critical to saving lives, but it is also potentially a strategic national resource.

The question is how such a fund could work. A possible legal structure for holding the data could build on the work of the Ada Lovelace Institute and the AI ​​Council (with input from the Royal Society) which have reported on what a “data trust” might look like. A co-operative could offer an attractive legal structure: all citizens are members and would share in any surpluses generated, while governance rests with the individuals concerned and not the shareholders. This is one possible structure that allows the wealth generated to benefit the entire population; in addition to the health benefits and those of potential data-driven medical breakthroughs. I know that my data alone is worthless. The value is in safe sharing.

The pandemic has taught us that while some data must always remain private, others – like infection status – can and should be shared. The NHS has already started to develop the technical architecture to securely collect and share data between trusts and benefits are being drawn from this.

Data collected by trusts can now be accessed securely via a system developed by the NHS, under strict access rules agreed by patients, doctors, researchers and administrators. This can be extended within a governance regime agreed by patients, physicians, researchers and administrators to help create value.

The infrastructure for secure data exchange was developed by the NHS. UK-based Privitar Ltd, a company I co-founded, provides patient identity protection software under strict governance rules. It is a small conceptual leap and realistic in practice to use the technical work done to date to create a privacy-preserving pool of UK patient records. This in turn could become a national resource.

What could be the revenue from using this data to treat diseases? The global market for drug development is estimated to exceed $100 billion by 2027. Value is created by accelerating drug discovery, helping establish safe drug delivery to disease sites, and accelerating ethical clinical trials. It has been estimated that curated NHS data could be worth £5bn a year in the long run.

From a legal and technical perspective, a UK sovereign wealth fund could be created from this potential revenue. It might even be named after the coronation. Of course, this can only be done with the democratic consent of the people of the nation. This would require confidence that their data is reasonably secure and that information about individuals cannot be identified. But as in Norway, it is worth taking action to develop a unique asset that can be used for the greater good.

Wendy Hall, Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute, contributed to this article

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