Innovation and Impact

Images taken of HIV clinics and hospital in Eastern Province of Kenya.
EGPAF/Georgina Goodwin

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has a long-standing record of success in the development, introduction and scale-up of high-impact health products and interventions in the developing world, yet working in these markets presents a variety of challenges. With myriad life-saving health technologies readily available in the 21st century, too few are accessible to people of disease-burdened, low-income countries. Those health technologies and interventions that do reach the last mile in places like sub-Saharan Africa often take years – even decades – to get there. Because successful product development and introduction requires viable public and private markets with clear pathways to achieve scale, the Agency must rely on cutting-edge thinking to push boundaries and address formidable barriers to adoption – from regulatory inefficiencies and market failures to limited user-demand and supply chain hurdles, which, all too often prevent innovative technologies from reaching those most in need.

To tackle these challenges, USAID established a center of excellence in the Global Health Bureau to accelerate the development, introduction and scale-up of priority global health interventions. The Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact will promote and reinforce innovative, business-minded approaches and solutions to accelerate impact against some of the world’s most important health challenges, convening industry experts and academic thought leaders to inform our thinking. Applying these forward-looking practices to USAID’s health investments, the Bureau will invest seed capital in the most promising ideas and cut the time it takes to transform “discoveries in the lab” to “impact on the ground.”

The Center will focus on three channels to promote innovation and impact:

  1.  Identifying State of the Art Practices: Lessons from the private sector can be leveraged more effectively to benefit global health. The Center is engaging luminaries in the field to identify state-of-the-art practices in innovation, introduction and uptake across a variety of sectors to push the boundaries of current thinking and improve the efficiency of the marketplace. The Center will identify portfolio management and product launch tools to support our research and innovation investments and new tools to shape and enhance markets, including market incentives, demand subsidies, robust demand forecasts and evidence-based business cases for improved product adoption. 
  2. Catalyzing Innovation and Partnerships: Widespread access to technology has made it possible for virtually anyone to be an agent of change. Harnessing the power of this untapped repository of innovators and change agents is a hallmark of USAID as we creatively think of new and better ways of doing business. Through partnerships like Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development, USAID is sourcing groundbreaking solutions with the potential for transformational change for mothers and newborns in the hardest to reach parts of the world.
  3. Scaling for Impact: Development activities need to match the true needs and capacities of target populations and their underlying markets. Optimizing the use of market mechanisms and strategic partnerships with the private sector can help drive increased access to life-saving technologies for underserved populations. The Center will design and implement accelerated development and introduction plans for priority products and interventions to support their rapid deployment and adoption in target communities, countries and regions; develop and evaluate innovative financing mechanisms to accelerate product development or access for high priority health innovations; and support last mile research to improve child health through partnerships with the National Institute of Health.

Last updated: May 03, 2013

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