The post-2015 development agenda will provide a framework for identifying global and national priorities and galvanizing action toward poverty reduction and sustainable development for all. Because poor health and disability contribute substantially to poverty, research, and innovation for health is critical to eradicating poverty and should figure prominently in the post-2015 development agenda. Progress on developing new interventions targeting poverty-related and neglected diseases has faltered because these diseases occur almost exclusively among the world’s poorest and most marginalized populations in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Although a clear public health need or gap may exist, this need does not necessarily translate into demand for new and improved health tools. Research and development (R&D) and innovation for health—particularly for the world’s poorest—can help to increase demand by creating new health technologies, expanding coverage of existing tools, and contributing to economic growth.

Gains made toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to health (MDGs 4, 5, and 6) have been based largely on R&D investments made years earlier. However, the health technologies that have contributed to this progress are insufficient to overcome existing and emerging health challenges and ultimately to achieve the goals of the post-2015 agenda.

Current R&D investments in health are inadequate to meet tomorrow’s challenges. Although there are promising tools in the pipeline—including effective vaccines and preventive technologies against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases; new and improved drugs to treat resistant strains of these diseases; rapid diagnostics that enable early identification and treatment; and female-controlled family planning technologies that enable women to protect themselves and their partners from unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections—to meet global health challenges, investments in the development and deployment of these tools need to be continued and increased to achieve the expected impact.

This paper is intended to build support for research and innovation in the final post-2015 agenda, as well as to stimulate and inform discussion about how to measure the impact of R&D of new and improved health tools targeting the needs of LMICs. The authors build on the work of the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health, which called for doubling current R&D investments in health from all countries to bridge the divide between the richest and poorest within a generation. To achieve this bold vision, the authors contend that research and innovation for health must be a central component of the post-2015 development agenda.