LONDON, March 2, 2005 — Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft Corp., made the following statement on receiving an honorary knighthood from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II today:
“I am humbled and delighted. I’m particularly pleased that this honor helps recognize the real heroes our foundation supports to improve health in poor countries. Their incredible work is helping ensure that one day all people — no matter where they are born — will have the same opportunity for a healthy life, and I’m grateful to share this honor with them.
“This honor is particularly poignant given the deep connections Microsoft enjoys with the United Kingdom. Over the past 23 years we have benefited greatly from strong business alliances and the tremendous wealth of talent and creativity of our U.K. employees and researchers. The U.K. was the first country in which Microsoft set up a subsidiary outside the U.S., and our experience in the U.K. has been significant in shaping our international growth. The companies and organizations that we have supported and partnered with since, and their employees, have been an important part of the positive impact technology has had on economic growth and on the lives of people in the U.K. I am proud of this special relationship and the role we have helped to play in the development of the U.K. technology industry.”
According to the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the honorary knighthood recognizes Gates’ contributions to improving health and reducing poverty in parts of the Commonwealth and elsewhere in the developing world. Gates also was recognized for his contribution to enterprise, employment, education and the voluntary sector in the United Kingdom.
Microsoft employs nearly 2,000 people in the United Kingdom. The company also supports a strong ecosystem of 17,000 partner businesses that have helped spur technology growth and adaptation in the U.K. economy. In addition, Microsoft Research Cambridge was Microsoft’s first research laboratory to be established outside the United States. The lab was set up in July 1997 and today employs 80 world-class researchers.
The queen conferred the honor in a private ceremony held at Buckingham Palace. Gates was accompanied by his wife, Melinda Gates, co-founder of the foundation.
Later in the day, Gates will speak on a panel at the Wellcome Trust titled “Global Health: Putting Science to Work for the Developing World.” The panel will focus on innovative approaches to increasing research on diseases of the developing world, including strategies to engage private industry in global health research.
About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health program is dedicated to improving the health of people in the developing world. The foundation focuses on the health problems that cause the greatest burden in the developing world, but receive relatively little attention and resources — diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, vaccine-preventable diseases, diarrhea, and respiratory infections. The foundation’s global health grantmaking supports two primary approaches to improving health: research to develop new tools like vaccines, drugs and diagnostics; and strategies to accelerate access to the health solutions that already exist. To date, the foundation has committed a total of $4.9 billion (U.S.) to global health grantees.
In January, the foundation announced a grant of $750 million (U.S.) to support the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization to increase childhood immunization rates in the world’s poorest countries.
Major U.K. global health grantees include the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, for work on malaria; and the Imperial College for Science, Technology and Medicine, to support a major schistosomiasis control initiative.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ( http://www.gatesfoundation.org ) works to promote greater equity in four areas: global health, education, public libraries, and support for at-risk families in Washington state and Oregon in the United States. The Seattle-based foundation joins local, national and international partners to ensure that advances in these areas reach those who need them most.
The foundation is led by Bill Gates’ father, William H. Gates Sr., and Patty Stonesifer, and has an endowment of approximately $28 billion (U.S.).
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
About Honorary Knighthoods
Honorary knighthoods are awarded by the Queen, on the advice of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, to those who have made an important contribution to British interests.
Previous US citizens receiving honorary knighthoods include former US presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, and entertainer Bob Hope.
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