Innovation into Action Challenge Attracts Great Response

March 17, 2016

The response to the Innovation into Action Challenge, whose application window closed last week, has been rich, broad, and diverse. All told, the competition attracted entries from 296 innovators in 49 countries.

The Innovation into Action Challenge is a new initiative designed to support innovations with the potential to make a difference in the lives of people in emerging and transitioning nations. It is presented by DAI; USAID’s Global Development Lab; the Innovation Program of Montgomery County, Maryland; and the Denver, Colorado-based Global Accelerator Network (GAN).

As might be expected, the United States led the pack in terms of number of applications, with more than 100 submissions representing 28 states. But Africa, likewise, generated more than 100 applications, with Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Ghana leading the way. In terms of the innovations’ technical orientation, agriculture accounted for more than 20 percent of submissions, with data analytics, workforce development, and economic growth also showing strongly.

“We are delighted by the enthusiastic response and gratified by the range and quality of the ideas we’re seeing,” said Doug McLean, who is leading the Challenge process for DAI. “We’d like to thank the many champions in our partner organizations and beyond who shared word of the Innovation into Action Challenge through their various networks. Without them, we would never have been able to generate a pool of innovations so rich in potential.”

The Challenge now moves on to the review stage, where DAI technical specialists will score the submissions to determine which applicants are invited to make in-person “pitches” before a panel of judges in Maryland in late May.

At stake is a tailored package of support designed to accelerate their innovation’s deployment in the field, including $20,000 in funding; matchmaking with one of DAI’s projects, including a funded visit to the selected project; access to a network of innovation accelerator professionals; and coaching and technical mentoring to refine their pitch, product, or service.



A Trio of Innovators Get Closer to Market

DAI has developed considerable expertise in the disciplines required to source and nurture good ideas and support the entrepreneurs and innovators who come up with them so they can bring their innovations to market. We are currently drawing on this body of experience in the Innovation into Action Challenge, for example, a contest that awards prizes, field visits, and tailored mentoring and partnering opportunities for initiatives with the potential to make a difference in developing and transitioning nations.

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