|Criteria: Stage||Amount Per Prize|
|Stage 3||$25,000 - $150,000|
|Stage 4||$150,000 - $1,500,000|
|Stage 5||$1,500,000 - $15,000,000|
|Stage||Stage 3: Proof of Concept|
|Region||Low and Middle Income Countries|
|Focus Areas||All Sectors|
|Planned Usage of Funds||Innovation can mean a lot of things. At DIV, we define innovation broadly, to include: new technologies, products, or services; new business or operational models; process, implementation, or system improvements; or applications of behavioral economics. Innovation need not be high-tech or product-based.|
DIV looks for ideas that can produce more results per dollar spent than their competitors. We owe this to the communities with which USAID works, but we also believe this matters to ensure American taxpayer dollars are used as wisely as possible. As a function of both impact and cost, innovations can be more cost-effective if they either achieve more impact at the same cost as alternativesorachieve comparable impact at lower cost than alternatives.
|Potential for Scale||For innovations on a public sector pathway to scale, strong applicants show they are likely to compel host country governments, multilateral donors, or other public sector players to scale the innovation. They discuss how targeted outreach and rigorous evidence of impact and cost-effectiveness will result in action. For innovations that expect to achieve widespread adoption through private sector commercialization without long-run subsidy provide evidence that: production costs and sales prices enable producers to make profits; customers demand and are willing to pay for the product or service; and development outcomes occur. Such applicants plan to achieve commercial viability themselves and/or credibly demonstrate that other businesses will scale their innovation.|
We care about scale path and sustainability (commercial or government adoption). The strongest applications lay out a roadmap for how their solution will reach the maximum number of people affected by a problem and continue to serve these people in the absence of funding support from DIV. This roadmap includes not just how the solution will be funded in the long-term (through revenue generation or public-sector support like a developing country government), but also how the organization and its operations will evolve to sustain the solution at scale.
|Financial Statements||We can’t think about unit economics and cost-effectiveness without understanding costs. Strong applicants include all costs, from production to implementation.If you don’t know how much it costs, estimate and be clear about the assumptions that underpin your estimate.|
|Evidence/Proof of Concept||Many pilots never reach scale because they do not sufficiently focus on collecting rigorous evidence of success. The DIV model emphasizes testing potential solutions and rigorously evaluating impact - often through randomized controlled trials or other rigorous approaches, as appropriate - to identify what works and what does not, and to help scale only those solutions proven to produce results.|
We take evidence seriously. DIV wants to understand very clearly what development impacts the applicant plans to produce (e.g., higher income, reduced incidence of disease) and how their proposed activities will create those impacts. We expect our applicants to articulate the assumptions that underpin this connection. Some assumptions may be grounded in existing evidence or research. Some assumptions may need to be tested. The strongest applications convey an understanding of the difference between the two and propose sound tests of unproven assumptions. Even early-stage, relatively untested innovations should have an evidence-informed theory of change.
|Impact Evaluation/M&E Plan||In most cases there are nearly identical products or services out there. We look for an honest assessment of what makes yours better and more cost-effective than alternatives. The point of comparison is any alternative ways of achieving the development outcomes you claim; this means you should be thinking of your competition as all the products, services, and approaches that can achieve the development outcome you care about, even if the product, service, or approach is very dissimilar to yours. |
If you think you have no competition, you don’t fully understand your customers or beneficiaries and/or don’t fully understand your market. We frequently hear innovators say their innovation “has no equivalent” and is “entirely unique.” Sure, we all want to think our idea is entirely novel. But this framing will do you a disservice in the application process. With very few exceptions, most development innovations are not radically new technologies with no equal; often, innovation is a demonstrable step-forward, building on the lessons learned from other attempts.
A broad understanding of the problem you plan to address is great. Even better is an understanding of the potential impact on the specific setting of the proposed activities (or the smallest unit of analysis that includes that setting).
|Other||What We Don't Fund|
-Development interventions with limited potential to scale, demonstration of cost-effectiveness and impact (e.g., building schools)
-Innovations that lack a base-of-the-pyramid focus
-Intermediaries (e.g., incubators, accelerators, conveners)
-Basic scientific research
-Planning or diagnostic tools that are hard to tie directly to measurable development impacts
-Innovations with limited generalizability to other contexts
- Innovations with difficult-to-disentangle theory of change