USAID Launches New Network to Engage Students and Universities in Solving International Development Challenges

Seven Top U.S. and Foreign Universities Join Forces with USAID to Create Development Labs and Discover Development Solutions

For Immediate Release

Friday, November 9, 2012

WASHINGTON D.C. (November 9, 2012) — The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announces today the launch of its Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN)— a new groundbreaking partnership with seven top American and foreign universities designed to develop innovative solutions to global development challenges.

USAID is renewing its dedication to supporting the use of Science and Technology to address global development challenges, and these partnerships will leverage the intellectual power and passion of academic leaders, faculty, and students. USAID is proud to partner with these institutions and their students, faculty and staff – together we can lead the global development community by creating more results-driven, effective, efficient, cost effective and accessible development solutions.

The network represents a new era of development by tapping research institutions and students to catalyze global action, supporting the culture of entrepreneurship, and fostering multifaceted approaches to development. Through the Network, these partnerships will engage a next generation of development professionals while guiding USAID’s programs. 

Each university will establish Development Labs that will work with USAID’s field mission experts and Washington staff to apply science and technology to define and solve key problems in areas such as global health, food security and chronic conflict. To establish these labs, USAID is providing $26 million across the seven lead institutions.  Over the course of this five year partnership, the total ceiling of these awards, subject to the availability of funds, is $130 million. These Development Labs will initiate a global network to engage not only academics and students, but also a broader community around the world. As of today, in addition to the seven lead universities, the network consists of 22 additional funded, and 76 non funded partners in the U.S. and overseas. For every $10 of USAID funding, the universities and their partners contributed an additional $6.60 toward the network. But these seven Development Labs are just the beginning. The network will become a powerful, sustainable development network capable of overcoming barriers, bridging critical gaps, and leveraging the ability of higher education institutions to operate effectively in a rapidly changing world. The Development Labs will establish technology hubs and knowledge centers across all geographic regions to advance global research and development. With hundreds of thousands of U.S. and international faculty and students engaged, the Development Labs will work to fully understand challenges to development, test new technologies, apply revolutionary solutions to global development problems and scale up these new technologies.

“The Higher Education Solutions Network is the latest step in USAID's efforts to harness the best ideas from the academic and scientific community and young people worldwide to foster transformational progress in development,” explained USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “Through this network of Development Labs, we will recapture the legacy of science, technology, and innovation as core drivers of development- as well as inspire and support the next generation of development leaders.”

Development Lab Universities participating at launch include: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California – Berkeley, Michigan State University, Duke University, Texas A&M University, The College of William & Mary, and Makerere University in Uganda.

“The Obama Administration is committed to investing in science, technology, innovation, and education to effect real change,” said Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “The USAID Higher Education Solutions Network will promote excellent research at home while helping partners around the world tackle long-standing development challenges.”

Whether building local resilience to development challenges, transforming economic and political systems, or inventing ways to improve quality of life, the HESN network will do development differently.

Last updated: August 20, 2014

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