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USAID Awards $130M for Universities to Spur Development Innovation Through S&T

November 14, 2012

With $130 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), seven universities will establish development labs to address global development challenges through science and technology in partnership with agency experts and policymakers. A new discipline of development science that combines math, science and engineering at the University of California-Berkeley and a Social Entrepreneur Accelerator at Duke University focused on health care delivery are among the projects supported as part of USAID's Higher Education Solutions Network. The network has up to five years to achieve its goals, and for every $10 of USAID funding, the universities and their partners are contributing an additional $6.60 to the network.

Each of the seven lead universities will establish a development lab related to their available resources and expertise. They include:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: The first of MIT's two development labs, known as the International Development Innovation Network, will provide a structure for technological innovation within developing countries. The second lab, The Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation, will assess technologies intended to alleviate poverty and identify those that will have the most impact.
  • University of California-Berkeley: The multidisciplinary lab known as the Development Impact Lab will bring new inventions to the developing world by creating a new discipline of development science combining math, science and engineering known as development engineering.
  • Michigan State University: MSU will establish the Global Center for Food Systems Innovations to examine the effects of population growth and climate change on food production and crop development within developing regions.
  • Duke University: Duke's program, to be called the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke, will focus on global health entrepreneurship expanding on the university's previous work in advancing global health and health care delivery.
  • Texas A&M University: The University's Center on Conflict and Development will look to improve agricultural productivity in conflict zones by examining the inter-relationships of conflict, policy and governance and development assistance.
  • The College of William & Mary: The College of W&M's development lab will work to fill the critical gap in national geocoded aid data to more effectively deliver foreign aid assistance through their AidData Center for Development Policy.
  • Makerere University: This Ugandan University will establish the ResilientAfrica development lab to promote an interdisciplinary approach to tackle hunger and famine and strengthen African communities' resilience to stresses and strains.

USAID Administrator, Rajiv Shah, pointed to the flexibility and potential of working with universities rather than a conventional government institution. Often, big federal agencies don't bring the same youthful creativity that a student group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley or Texas A&M University might bring to the task, Shah said. More information is available at: http://www.usaid.gov/hesn.

international, higher ed, federal agency