Clearly 2035: Our Mars Shot

Twelve months ago I set out to launch Clearly – a new campaign with a simple vision: to help the whole world see by 2035.

Today, there are 2.5 billion people in the world suffering from poor vision, with no access to corrective treatment. That makes it the largest unaddressed disability in the world, and one that’s costing the global economy $3 trillion every year.

Since we kicked off the campaign in April 2016, we have achieved some incredible things.

In May, we launched the ‘Clearly Vision Prize’, a first-of-its kind ideas competition for entrepreneurs and forward thinkers with the innovations needed to re-think the globe’s approach to vision.

Over the proceeding months, over 200 applications flooded in from 24 different countries, with innovations from artificial intelligence and 3D printing, to remote diagnostics and last mile distribution solutions.

In October, we brought together five finalists, who flew in from four continents to pitch to a world-leading panel for a share of $250,000 in prize funding. We awarded first prize to Vula Mobile, a game-changing smartphone app. Vula connects rural primary healthcare workers with on-call specialists, who can provide diagnostic and treatment advice from miles away and across borders.

Throughout the year, we’ve run nine ‘Clearly Labs’ bringing together the world’s best entrepreneurs, scientists and innovators in cities from San Francisco to Shenzhen, and Bengaluru to Baltimore. These fast-paced curated think tanks have stimulated new thinking on the key barriers preventing us from achieving universal access to vision – from detection to training and education.

To mark World Health Day next month, we will celebrate our one-year anniversary with a milestone global event: Clearly 2035.

Between the 4th and 6th of April, we will convene world renowned experts on Murano Island in Venice, where modern spectacles were first crafted some 700 years ago. This unique event will bring together the world’s sharpest minds to plot our course to success over the coming year and all the way to 2035.

A world class array of attendees has been confirmed, with expertise spanning advocacy and campaigning to vision and innovation, including:

• Brian Doolan, CEO at the Fred Hollows Foundation
• Shira Shafir, Director of Social Innovation and Impact at TOMs
• Andrew Bastawrous, founder of award-winning PEEK Vision
• Alastair Campbell, Writer, Communicator and Strategist
• Kirsty McNeill, Executive Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children
• Pam Scott, Founder of The Curious Company
• Liz Smith, Co-Founder of EYElliance,
• Yair Neuman, eyewear designer
• Nick Giles, Co-Founder of Seven Hills
• Nick Mercer, esteemed Clearly board member

We will gather next month, in the acknowledgement that we stand at a global tipping point. In the last thirty years, we have seen the biggest reduction in poverty in history. Across the planet, technology is sparking unthinkable advances.

By the middle of the next decade, half the world will have a smartphone, providing access to financial services, and even healthcare, for the most underserved populations in the world. 3D printing will transform the marginal cost of production in ways we can only imagine.

By 2035 Nasa are planning to put a person on Mars. Next month, we gather to ensure that when they do, every human on earth can see it happen.

James Chen

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