Research transforms lives. It helps us understand complex problems and create solutions across cultures, regions, and sectors. Research-based tools and innovations improve the way we plan for and respond to disasters, design our health systems, build resilience, boost agricultural productivity, and understand environmental changes.

USAID is committed to evidence-based decision making through its investments in research and development activities. By partnering with higher education institutions and increasing the use of scientific research, tools, and analysis, USAID is improving development outcomes.

Fact Sheet

Programs to advance research

Research increases the commitment and capacity of our partner countries to plan, finance, and implement solutions based on informed decision-making. We partner with higher education institutions in the United States and in USAID partner countries, governments, civil society, and the private sector to build local research capacity and use an evidence-based approach to development work.

The Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) Portfolio highlights USAID’s commitment to engaging creatively with higher education institutions. This includes higher-education based programs and partnerships designed to leverage the expertise of the higher education research community domestically and overseas.

The Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) is a partnership between USAID and seven top universities to harness the ingenuity and passion of university students, researchers, and faculty to deliver solutions to global development challenges. USAID created eight Development Labs that incubate, catalyze, and scale new science and technology-based solutions. Since its launch in 2012, HESN has created nearly 1,000 innovations that have benefited nearly 7.1 million people in USAID partner countries.

Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) is a grants program that funds researchers, scientists, and engineers in USAID partner countries to conduct research in partnership with U.S. government-funded researchers on local development challenges. PEER helps to build capacity among local researchers and research institutions, strengthen research partnerships worldwide, and better translate data and evidence into policy and action. Since its launch in 2011, PEER has awarded more than $100 million to more than 400 projects in 57 countries.

The Research Technical Assistance Center (RTAC) is a global network of more than 1,000 university-affiliated researchers and experts associated with over 300 organizations. These scholars provide USAID with short-term expertise and technical assistance across all sectors and geographic areas, which helps USAID make strategic choices and evidence-based programming decisions.

The Long-Term Assistance and Services for Research (LASER) program is a global network of more than 2,500 university researchers and development practitioners across 60 countries collaborating on practical solutions to critical development challenges. LASER translates data and findings into development impact and builds technical and research capacity in USAID partner countries.

The Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships Annual Program Statement (STIP APS) is a program mechanism that allows higher education institutions across the globe to create evidence-based solutions in partnership with USAID. The STIP APS encourages higher education institutions to collaborate with local institutions including the private sector, government, and civil society organizations to build support for resolving complex local development challenges.

The Accelerating Local Potential (ALP) program builds the research and scientific capacity of higher education institutions in USAID partner countries to become global leaders in science education, research and innovation. Local government officials, policymakers, and other development actors can use these higher education institutions as sources of knowledge and innovation for development.

The Building Research and Innovation for Development, Generating Evidence, and Training (BRIDGE-Train) program uses partnerships between higher education institutions in the United States and USAID partner countries to develop research, innovation, and training centers. These centers generate knowledge to address local and national development priorities.

The Bringing Research to Impact for Development, Global Engagement, and Utilization (BRIDGE-U) program works with higher education institutions in USAID partner countries to promote the effective use of research; to strengthen the pipeline of local researchers, policymakers, and development practitioners skilled in facilitating research utilization; and to build a knowledge base for how to effectively advance the use of evidence to create development impact.

Science and Technology Fellowships

Fellowship programs provide researchers, scientists, and engineers the opportunity to use their technical expertise to address critical challenges in development while gaining firsthand experience working at USAID. Fellows apply their diverse backgrounds and technical knowledge across USAID’s sectors to support new approaches to development.

Research Policy & Coordination

USAID develops and leads internal policies and initiatives critical to our ability to successfully support and use scientific research and innovations. We cultivate change within USAID surrounding the importance and coordination of R&D for international development; provide a solid foundation through policies and guidance; enhance capacities across USAID staff through training and technical assistance services; and advance USAID’s research priorities by coordinating key Agency-level external partnerships and engagements.

International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)

At Regeneron ISEF, USAID presents the annual Science for Development Award to recognize innovative student projects in science and technology that could advance our ability to meet current and future development challenges. Each year, ISEF brings more than 1,800 high school students from 75 countries to exhibit and demonstrate ingenuity and innovation through science projects of their own design. Since 2014, USAID has provided more than $200,000 in awards to recognize these exceptional projects from students around the world. 

Research Publications and Evaluations

Read publications and evaluations on how scientific research is contributing to international development.


Get first-person perspectives on how our programs are impacting lives and livelihoods.


Research and Innovation Fellowships (2014 - 2018)
Seeding Labs (2014 - 2016)

Related Sectors of Work

About the Innovation, Technology, and Research Hub