USAID is launching an exciting and ambitious program to engage universities and research institutes in novel ways to improve the Agency's--as well as the larger development community's--ability to define and solve large development challenges. Through this program, we seek to enhance evidence-based analysis and test new solutions, to champion and incubate creative approaches to accelerate solutions to traditional development challenges and to encourage universities to assist in addressing development problems through sustainable, creative multidisciplinary approaches.
We hope to bring together all components of the campus from engineering to anthropology, from global health to entrepreneurship and from agriculture to environment, to focus on the problems that impede humanity's advancement. We want to focus the nxt generation of problem-solvers on development's chalenges.
- Address USAID's need for development data and analysis: Serve as the analytical center for the Agency and address the Agency's need for development data, evidence and analysis that can feed into policy, including using geospatial technologies for problem identification, analysis, donor coordination, programming and monitoring and evaluation; and conducting futures analysis and research for better comprehension of future threats.
- Test and scale new models and technologies for development: Incentivize universities to create development labs that can design, adapt, rigorously test and scale emerging technologies, systems and approaches for development with partners in developing countries.
- Engage new solvers and incentivize new solutions and new approaches for development: Harness the excitement and energy of students and faculty interest toward global problems. Incentivize change on university campuses to take a multidisciplinary approach to development. Support a culture of entrepreneurship in developing countries as a means to address developing country problems, including in global health, food security, climate change, environment and conflict.
The partnerships between USAID and academic institutions will be sustainable, lasting beyond the term of the award, and benefit both parties as well as the larger development community. In addition, higher education institutions will be encouraged to serve as network nodes for development and work with novel partners, such as NGOs, foundations and the private sector.
USAID will fund two levels of awards:
- Single university centers funded at $1-2 million annually for five years, and
- Consortia centers funded at $5 million annually for five years.
Consortia would consist of 3-4 academic institutions and include developing country partners. We encourage applicants to match costs, potentially by leveraging additional resources from other federal agencies, foundations and the private sector to support sustainability and scale of proposed activities after the award period has ended. We are looking for creativity of ideas, the ability of the Centers to focus around problems rather than disciplines and novel partnership among nontraditional entities, including the private sector.
The question and comment period is open through January 31. Our first webinar is already oversubscribed; we have scheduled a second webinar for January 30. Registration for the conference/webinar can be found at www.usaid.gov/universities.
We hope you share our excitement for this opportunity.
Science & Technology Advisor, USAID