What We Look For

DIV evaluates applicant solutions based on three main criteria: the cost effectiveness of the idea relative to traditional alternatives; the project’s plan for collecting rigorous evidence of success; and the solution’s proposed pathways to scale if it is proven effective.

Cost Effectiveness

DIV seeks applications that have ideas for addressing development challenges more effectively and more cheaply. Therefore, cost analysis must be conducted in all projects; the specific approach can be determined based on the solution.  

Stool representing scale, cost-effectiveness, and rigorous testing

Rigorous Testing

Many pilots never reach scale because they do not sufficiently focus on collecting rigorous evidence of success. The DIV model emphasizes testing potential solutions and rigorously evaluating impact - often through randomized control trials - to identify what works and what does not, and to help scale only those solutions proven to produce results.

Pathways to Scale

Innovations are expected to eventually scale up through the private sector, the public sector, or in some cases a combination of the two, in order to reach sustainability without DIV support.

Scale through the public sector. Applicants should demonstrate that they are likely to compel host country governments, multilateral donors or other public sector players to scale the innovation. They should discuss how targeted outreach, rigorous evaluation (such as a randomized evaluation) and evidence of cost-effectiveness will result in action. At the time of application, the most competitive applicants have already achieved public sector commitments to scale successful results

Scale through the private sector. Successful innovations expected to achieve widespread adoption through private sector commercialization without long-run support from donors, governments, or philanthropy will provide evidence that: production costs and sales prices are such that producers make profits; beneficiaries demand and are willing to pay for the product or service; governments receive associated tax revenue; and development outcomes occur.

Applicants should either plan to achieve commercial viability themselves, convincingly demonstrate that other businesses will scale their innovation, or a combination of both.

Innovating in Stages

Applicants with ideas that meet DIV's above review criteria can submit proposals to one of DIV's three distinct stages of financing. The applicant chooses a stage level based on how far their project is in its development and to what extent they have previously gathered evidence of its success. Staging is not based on the level of funding needed. Outlined below is what DIV looks for at each stage:

Proof of concept (Stage 1)

Introducing an innovation to target customers/beneficiaries in a developing country context to gain an early, real-world assessment of potential for technical, organizational, and financial viability.

  • Articulation of the potential to generate significant social impacts per dollar invested, either by sustainably reaching millions of people or by dramatically improving lives for a significant proportion of those affected by a development challenge affecting smaller numbers of people.
  • Carefully selected tests to assess the potential for the innovation to work in the field or to help improve the innovation, make it more cost effective, build evidence on outcomes, refine an implementation strategy, and/ or increase adoption. Testing should shed light on potential for long-term financial and operational sustainability. Relevant testing could include assessing user demand, willingness to pay, correct usage of products and services, viability of distribution channels, or documenting social outcomes and real world costs to implement the innovation.
  • Well-defined metrics to judge success (with relevant targets).
  • Track the full costs of implementing the innovation, estimate the costs at scale, and compare these costs with those of current practices.
  • Implementation plan that demonstrates awareness of important risks, obstacles, and implementing opportunities, including external market factors in commercial scaling scenarios or similarly relevant factors in the public scaling scenarios.
  • Project team with relevant experience and expertise to execute the proposed plans. Clear roles, demonstrated capabilities, and a corresponding level of effort (percent of full time) to ensure successful implementation. Relevant partners play critical roles to facilitate testing and growth.

Testing impact and delivery (Stage 2)

Rigorously testing promising innovations that already have some proof of concept to 1) measure social impact and cost effectiveness and/or establish market viability, and 2) build paths to sustainability and scale, for example through operational refinement.

  • Articulation of the potential to generate significant social impacts per dollar invested, either by sustainably reaching millions of people or by dramatically improving lives for a significant proportion of those affected by a development challenge affecting smaller numbers of people.
  • Carefully selected tests that can provide credible empirical evidence on the social impact of the innovation, establishing a clear causal link between the innovation and the social impact. This testing must credibly distinguish the impact of the innovation from potential confounding factors, for example through a randomized control trial (RCT) or an appropriate quasi- experimental design. Where there is an existing evidence base that connects the innovation with ultimate outcomes it will be appropriate to measure intermediate outcomes such as uptake or usage of life-improving products. Where such evidence does not exist, it will be appropriate to measure ultimate outcomes such as infant mortality.
  • Implementation plan that allows for testing and refinement to better position the innovation for scale and/or adapt the innovation for new contexts. This may include identifying strategies to address constraints to scale up (legal, political or regulatory, etc.), conducting financial analysis of the potential to commercialize and/or reaching out to potential scaling partners.
  • Plan to track the full costs of implementing the innovation, estimate the costs at scale, and compare these costs with those of current practices.
  • Identification of financial inputs that will be required to scale the innovation over time, and plan for how to obtain such resources. This includes strategies for cost recovery in the case of innovations that are intended to scale commercially. Applicants should discuss how they will use their Stage 2 project to do this.
  • Project team with expertise and capabilities to conduct the proposed activities and vision for how the organization will identify the resources, recruits, and/or partners required to scale the innovation, particularly if the organization is not well-suited to perform the tasks required to scale the innovation post-award itself. Ideally, applicants will provide evidence of interest and/or commitments from partners.

Transitioning to Scale (Stage 3)

Adaptation of a tested and proven innovation to new contexts or geographies or engagement of additional partners who will help scale the project beyond DIV support, but for whom more evidence of success and track record are needed.

  • Articulation of how the innovation delivers development impacts at lower costs compared to alternatives and discuss the validity of such evidence. (Note that while this evidence should be comparable to what would have come out of DIV’s stage two, it need not come from evaluations previously financed by DIV or by the applicant.) In cases where more evidence is needed on the impact of the innovation in other contexts, the proposed activities should include steps to continue to develop this evidence. Depending on context, this could take the form of additional rigorous impact evaluation or of more basic monitoring.
  • Clear case that the innovation has the potential to generate significant social impacts per dollar invested, either by sustainably reaching millions of people or by dramatically improving lives for a significant proportion of those affected by a development challenge affecting smaller numbers of people. This case should include scaling plans that address operational challenges and allow for refinement and iteration. There should be a compelling case that the scaling approach can lead to sustainability of the innovation. Sustainability can be achieved through a variety of channels, including commercialization, ongoing support by developing country governments, and hybrid models.
  • Plan to track the full costs of implementing the innovation and compare these costs with those of current practices.
  • Discussion of how the applicant can scale on their own or how they will to reach out to potential scaling partners (e.g., investors, existing large commercial firms, or developing country governments) and work with potential scaling partners to adapt the innovation to suit their context. This may include expanding the innovation to a new context/geography and/or executing the innovation within the systems of potential scaling partners.
  • Assessment of whether the innovation continues to operate at low cost and high impact in new and larger contexts. Assess strategies to drive down costs while maintaining quality.
  • Plan for building the necessary operational capacity, systems, partnerships, and financial support to drive the innovation towards sustainability and scale.
  • Discussion of how new challenges or cultural, political, environmental considerations may affect the success of the innovation as it scales.
  • Project team with the capability to implement the proposed activities and skills necessary to guide the solution on a credible path to meaningfully improving development outcomes within the next decade.

Applicant next steps: 

How to apply

Additional resources:

FAQs

Apply to DIV

Annual Program Statement

Addendum to the Global Development Lab's Broad Agency Announcement


 

Last updated: June 01, 2015

Share This Page