Innovation

Picture of household reading at night thanks to Simpa Networks' Lights for Education program
Family in rural India uses home solar system developed by Simpa Networks to read at night.
Photo Credit: Simpa Networks

The next breakthrough solution could come from anyone, anywhere. For that reason, we are committed to advancing USAID’s culture of innovation by opening up international development to new people, ideas, and ways of solving development challenges.

Design:

The Lab works to reframe development challenges, reach new audiences, and spur new ways of solving problems. Open innovation, collaboration, and experimentation are at the heart of our approach. We equip USAID teams with skills on how to design innovative programs using tools like design thinking and co-creation. We also build diverse networks around critical systems challenges and facilitate a dialogue on the practice of innovation and design across USAID and the industry.  

Discover and Test:

The Lab provides opportunities for talented, creative people in every field around the world to share and apply their knowledge to global challenges. We use evidence to identify and refine the most promising solutions and provide additional support only to innovations that prove their impact, cost-effectiveness, and potential to scale.

Accelerate and Apply:

The Lab helps innovators reach more end-users, secure financial sustainability, and maximize the potential of each innovation. We provide acceleration assistance for innovations that can demonstrate they have the greatest impact. We also work to integrate and apply innovative solutions to USAID’s projects and programs around the world, and continually find ways to reach our development objectives more effectively and sustainably.

Our flagship initiatives include:

  • Development Innovation Ventures (DIV). Through a tiered funding model inspired by venture capital, DIV invests in innovations that demonstrate evidence of impact, cost-effectiveness, and potential to scale. It is a year-round competition and open to ideas across sectors and  geographies.
  • Grand Challenges for Development. Grand Challenges for Development focus global attention and resources on important problems and promote a series of innovative approaches to solving them. Since 2011, USAID and partners have launched nine Grand Challenges.
  • Global Innovation Fund (GIF). GIF invests in social innovations to improve the lives of millions of people in the developing world. USAID is a founding partner and funder of GIF.
  • LAUNCH. A network-centered innovation program founded on the belief that the problems we face are too big to be solved by any one organization.  LAUNCH convenes networks of industry leaders, innovators and organizations around global challenges.
  • The Global Innovation Exchange. The Exchange is a free online marketplace that promotes open collaboration. It is open to innovators, funders and subject matter experts to share innovations, programs, events and resources in an easily accessible site.
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Last updated: November 15, 2017

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