USAID is launching what it calls “an exciting and ambitious” program to engage universities and research institutes in novel ways to improve the agency’s (and larger development community’s) ability to define and solve large development challenges. Computing appears poised to play an important role here, as key goals of the program are “to advance 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, and multidisciplinary approaches.”
USAID has posted a draft request for applications describing the new development centers that it is aiming to fund through this program. Per the RFA, these centers will (after the jump):
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 towards 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, water, climate change, environment, and conflict.
USAID expects to fund two levels of awards: single-university centers, funded at $1-2 million annually for five years; and consortia centers, comprising three to four academic institutions and including developing country partners, funded at $5 million annually for five years.
A question and comment period on the draft RFA is open through Jan. 31 (submissions due by e-mail to UERFA@usaid.gov), and the next the next webinar with availability is scheduled for Jan. 30.
(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)