Saturday 19 October 2019

New director role for Bono at medical drone delivery firm

U2 front man Bono has joined the board of a medical delivery drone firm. Photo: Steve Humphreys
U2 front man Bono has joined the board of a medical delivery drone firm. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Barry Hartigan

Bono has joined the board of Zipline, a medical delivery drone company - his first and only company board membership.

The company was founded in San Francisco in 2011 and uses drone technology to deliver vaccines, blood and drugs in Rwanda and Ghana.

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In Rwanda, the company flies drones from delivery centres to clinics which need medical supplies or blood for emergency transfusions that couldn't be delivered in time using the existing road network. In Ghana the company is currently building what is claimed to be the world's largest drone delivery network which will serve 2,000 clinics that cater for 12 million people with an expected 600 flights a day.

Speaking about his involvement with Zipline, the U2 front man said: "My story with Zipline actually started 20 years ago and I was in Malawi, in Lilongwe, and I was watching people be diagnosed HIV positive and then being told that there was no treatment for that.

"The drugs they needed existed, but they couldn't get them. I can still visualise the look in the eyes of those people in that queue as they were told there was no treatment for their disease or they couldn't access these antiretroviral therapies."

Bono is co-founder of The Rise Fund, described by Fastcompany.com as "a $2bn impact investing fund that looks for companies creating what the fund calls 'complete returns' - measurable positive social and environmental change along with financial returns" and in May of this year the fund became one of Zipline's investors.

Commenting on the company's work in Africa, Bono said: "They're making distance disappear and they put people at the centre of their commercial model, which I think is also something we think about a lot in The Rise Fund-that commerce should serve people and not the other way around."

Other investors in the company include Yahoo founder Jerry Yang and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and earlier this year Zipline raised $190m to give the company a valuation of over $1bn.

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