Six years ago, the U.S. Agency for International Development launched the Global Development Lab, an innovative mechanism that aims to end extreme poverty through the increased application of science, technology, innovation, and partnerships.
“The lab is an entity dedicated not to doing the programs, but to find ways to make the programs better, more efficient and more accountable to not only the American taxpayer, but also to those who benefit from the development interventions,” said executive director of the Global Development Lab Bureau, Harry Bader:
“We encompass all sectors and all regions of international development where USAID, as well as our international partners work. And so the lab is involved in employing science and open innovation and digital technology across the full suite of development objectives, whether that's addressing pestilence and disease, extreme poverty, illiteracy. Striving towards democracy and increasing tolerance for diversity throughout the world and to build civil capacity organizations."
The Lab is the innovation hub for all of USAID.
“We focus on scientific research primarily through a consortia of over one hundred different universities from around the world.”
“We understand that our agency alone doesn't have the answers to the questions that plague humanity and its development. And so what we want to do is to harness the research capacity of this one hundred plus global research consortia and then apply it to very real problems,” said Director Bader. Hence, the peer program:
With the peer program, those American scientists who are working with the international science community in the developing world, we will help support their international scientific research partners so that they can build their own capacity and their own ability to contribute equally.”
Finally, there is the flagship program, called the Development Innovation Ventures, said Director Bader:
It is a rolling system whereby anyone, on any subject from anywhere in the world at any time can submit a good idea. And then the lab will work with them. It is an evidence based process where it is paid for performance at certain milestones, as well as capacity building and building up a nontraditional partner so that they are an equal contributor to the development in their own country or other countries.”
“We are advancing using digital tools, artificial intelligence, new algorithms, reporting systems, block chain crypto currencies,” said Director Harry Bader, “to make international development better, to make it cheaper, to do it more quickly.”