On September 28 and 29, 2017, USAID’s Global Development Lab hosted Global Innovation Week in Washington, DC. The event brought together donors, implementing partners, and social entrepreneurs, all interested in integrating innovation into international development program design and implementation. Winners of the Grand Challenges, sponsored by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among other donors, as well as recipients of funding from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, showcased their approaches in the Innovation Marketplace, ranging from virtual reality as a storytelling tool to using rats to detect landmines. Laura O’Brien, QED’s Innovation Program Manager, attended Global Innovation Week and connected with many of these inspiring organizations.
USAID Administrator Mark Green opened the event on the first day, and set the course for participants by defining innovation as “making the impossible possible.” As demonstrated over the course of the event, an increasing number of development funders and implementers are seeking to integrate innovation into their programming. However, a challenge remains in ensuring that these new technologies and approaches can achieve the impact and scale that they promise at the outset.
One solution is to build in mechanisms for feedback, evaluation, and learning throughout the Innovate, Test, and Scale process. Introducing innovation together with an approach such as human-centered design, which encourages implementers to work hand-in-hand with the people they are designing for, increases the likelihood that the innovation will be adopted and used for greater impact.
The QED Group is uniquely positioned to support USAID and fellow development practitioners in creating innovative solutions that can reach scale. With nearly 20 years of experience in building rigorous monitoring, evaluation, and learning platforms and systems, QED is currently developing several innovative methods for training, data collection, and collaborating, learning, and adapting. Additionally, QED is developing a guide for creating social innovations that incorporate continuous feedback, monitoring, and learning that can be applied by any organization wishing to design for sustainable impact.
If you are interested in learning more about QED’s Innovation programs, please contact Laura O’Brien.