The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) operates in a constellation of agencies and organizations, both domestic and foreign. In recent years, new organizations have joined more established entities. USAID has both benefitted from and contributed to the new approaches and solutions arising from this mix of development players. To be most effective, each organization—including multilateral and bilateral agencies, philanthropic organizations, host-country institutions, the private sector, and USAID itself—needs to recognize, focus, and build on its individual strengths in science, technology, innovation, and partnerships (STI+P).
In the year 2000, under the aegis of the United Nations, countries agreed on eight broad Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to eradicate poverty, promote gender equality, and combat disease, among other goals, by 2015. The MDGs focused attention and resources on ambitious targets—perhaps most notably, the goal to reduce by half the number of people living in extreme poverty, accomplished by 2010. This represented tremendous progress, with more than 1 billion people lifted out of extreme poverty, but more than 800 million people remain in that condition. In 2015, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the achievements but also the gaps, noting “inequalities persist and…progress has been uneven.”1
1 United Nations, Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015, p. 3. The eight goals: (1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; (2) achieve universal primary education; (3) promote gender equality and empower women; (4) reduce child mortality; (5) improve maternal health; (6) combat HIV/AIDS, malar-
Science, technology, and innovation (STI) were pivotal to the progress made on the MDGs, and they will remain critical, as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that look ahead to 2030.2 Many examples illustrate the role that STI played in previous advances and can play in the next decades.3 In agriculture, researchers have increased yields, integrated pest management, nutritious value, and hardiness of food staples such as wheat, corn, rice, sweet potatoes, and legumes. In health, years of scientific research on malaria prevention combined with innovative behavior-change programs have dramatically increased use of insecticide-treated bednets. Vaccines are far more effective; mobile banking has been revolutionary. Technology has advanced data collection and integration from satellites and other sources, facilitating understanding of climate change occurrences and impacts, for example, and the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Ultimately, STI-based approaches to development will reach their potential if the capacity exists in developing countries to adapt and sustain the underlying knowledge. As the InterAcademy Council, a global organization of science academies, noted in 2004, “Stronger S&T capacity in the developing countries is not a luxury but an absolute necessity if these nations are to participate as full partners in the world’s fast-forming, knowledge-based economy.”4 Each country, the authors noted, must begin with the capacity to define national needs and priorities.
ia, and other diseases; (7) ensure environmental sustainability; and (8) global partnership for development.
2 See, for example, World Bank, Innovation Policy: A Guide for Developing Countries, Washington, DC: World Bank, 2010; Fred Gault, Innovation Strategies for a Global Economy: Development, Implementation, Measurement, and Management, Ottawa: IDRC, 2010; Edmund S. Phelps, Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenges, and Change, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013. Background on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300.
3 See, for example, position statement of the International Council for Science, http://www.icsu.org/publications/icsu-position-statements/sci-tech-un-mdg/statement.
4 InterAcademy Council, Inventing a Better Future: A Strategy for Building Worldwide Capacities in Science and Technology, http://www.interacademycouncil.net/File.aspx?id=27016.
The discussion to define these needs will assist in mobilizing all key institutions, public and private, to accelerate progress. The success of an STI+P initiative depends on the readiness and stages of development of recipients of international aid. In view of the limited budget of USAID to deal with the needs of the developing world, appropriate partnerships with other donor nations/agencies and host nations are vital.
In technology and innovation, the global reach of the Internet and the 24/7 integration of enterprises across time zones provide new economic, educational, and social opportunities. At the bottom of the income pyramid, innovation systems have had setbacks, but they have also found dramatic ways to reach portions of the population traditionally out of reach. Successes have resulted through a willingness to risk failure and to undertake strategic corrections according to local realities.5 Many solutions are locally conceived and implemented, such as initiatives that have expanded the reach of wireless Internet and mobile financial transactions.6
New concerns have emerged in the 21st century, owing to crises that spill over national or regional borders. Refugees fleeing conflict and poverty have led to urgent needs to address health and safety, in addition to humanitarian issues related to their migration. Infectious diseases, such as Ebola and Zika virus, are spreading as more people and goods move across borders through commerce and travel. Climate change affects human health and the environment through, among other combined effects, increased air and water pollution, sea-level rise, drought, and zoonotic diseases.7 These impacts have a disproportionate effect on the world’s poor. At the same time, the Global Burden of Disease Study has recorded shifts in the major causes of mortality and
5 Charles Kenny, Donors Funding Technology: 10 Recommendations, CGD Notes, Center for Global Development, June 2016.
morbidity, from infectious diseases in the 1990s to chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases today.8 USAID’s STI efforts can play a role in confronting these challenges, such as through the following:
- Scientific evaluation of strategies, to bring evidence to bear in better decision making and resource allocation;
- Scouting science and technology by tapping into ongoing work that could be utilized in development;
- Multiplying the impact of development dollars through scaling knowledge, reducing cost of delivery, and rigorous evaluation;
- Influencing scientific breakthroughs by articulating the priority needs of developing countries, constraints and requirements on the ground, and the quantitative metrics of performance to achieve success.
- Funding scientific work of partners to translate fundamental science into real-life solutions.
New STI+P-inspired ideas and energy are becoming a part of international development efforts in several ways. Philanthropies such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have used their flexibility to set goals and invite a wide range of individuals and groups to propose solutions. Nontraditional partners (e.g., social media, crowdsourcing, independent inventors, and start-ups) are increasingly engaged with many agencies’ portfolios, including USAID’s own Grand Challenges for Development as one example (discussed further in Chapter 5).
Another significant STI+P-related shift, extending into all development sectors, rests on improved processes and capabilities—in other words, the application of STI methods to plan, implement, and evaluate development programs. The definition of a problem target is increasingly data based, with project designs reflecting measured results from at-
8 R. Lozano et al., Global and regional mortality from 235 causes of death for 20 age groups in 1990 and 2010: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, The Lancet, 380 (9859), pp. 2095–2128.
tempts to solve that particular problem in other country settings.9 The emergence of big data as a development resource is notable, not only for its application but also for the unprecedented “crowdsourcing” of the underlying collection. Development agencies, including USAID, take advantage of new communications and rapid global networking. This takes three forms: (1) using existing institutions and mechanisms to tap into state-of-the-art knowledge for the purposes of a specific country need; (2) fostering the development of new networks around a common issue or a challenge; and (3) crowdsourcing ideas from individuals without an institutional base. As one example, the Open Source Drug Discovery project now addresses the need for less expensive drugs across a wide range of diseases.10 Some of these approaches stem from the private sector’s experience with disruptive, rapidly adopted technologies over the last three decades, where agility and adaptability are highly prized.
Development agencies are increasing their role in helping new science and technologies scale up to meet wider audiences. Rather than wait for the private sector to develop fully mature and proven technological answers, an agency like USAID can step into the process further upstream. If the results are positive, the agency can provide a mechanism for accelerating adoption across the range of countries in which it operates. USAID’s support of research into better varieties of basic food crops over decades exemplifies the opportunity; the agency magnified its impact by linking scaling as a longer-term strategy. The efforts to expand microfinance institutions several decades ago, based upon a South Asian nongovernmental organization (NGO) pilot with development agency help, provides another example.11 The rapid spread across Asia, and into parts of Africa and Latin America, showed the feasibility of providing banking services to society’s poorest residents, while allowing for the need to translate the approach into local culture and customs.
9 See, for example, National Research Council, Improving Democracy Assistance: Building Knowledge through Evaluations and Research, Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2008, pp. 5–8, on the use of evaluation in Democracy and Governance programs.
11 Anicca Jansen, USAID’s Contribution to Microfinance: From Microfinance to Financial Inclusion, October 2014, https://www.microlinks.org/sites/default/files/resource/files/MPEP_Report2_V17.pdf.
A development agency and its funders have to accept that some technologies will fail, but a single major success will result in major economic and social improvements. Many development sectors have experienced major technological change in the last two decades, with lessons to learn to understand the process of change. Application and uptake may be as important as new developments, given the resource limitations of potential beneficiaries. Any push for greater dissemination of new technologies in low-income societies needs to recognize the balance between benefits and disruptive effects on people living on the margins. While the prospective benefits can be large, those at subsistence income levels may need to build resilience, something agencies can help provide. As roads are built in the Himalayas of Nepal, for example, the centuries-old occupation of porters becomes obsolete. To deal with this, USAID needs competency in its STI team to assess the potential social, cultural, and economic impacts of scaling up a new technology on the existing workforce and new entrants, especially women.
Agencies such as USAID have perfected systems to avoid risk, so the recognition that some informed risk in the organization’s culture would be desirable requires careful loosening of the restraints. In some cases, such a cultural change involves USAID’s partners. Small businesses everywhere are accustomed to taking risks, and indeed mobile telephony, as a well-publicized example, has achieved its scaling in large part through the mobilization of kiosk owners in lower-income societies.
There can also be inherent risk in long-term investments by USAID. Infrastructure, STI+P, and capacity-building do not easily lend themselves to short-term deadlines, such as those in USAID’s recent competition programs. Likewise, and even harder to measure, working with host countries to build human capacity and strengthen institutions—for example, related to intellectual property or the rule of law—calls for a long time horizon. In promoting STI+P for development, USAID and other development agencies cannot lose sight of this reality.
Finding 2.1: An enhanced focus on STI is emerging to meet unprecedented concerns emerging in the 21st century that have the potential to stimulate crises that spill across regions. Refugees fleeing conflict and poverty have led to urgent needs to address health and safety, in addition to the urgent humanitarian issues. Infectious diseases, such as Ebola and Zika virus, are spreading as more people and
goods move across borders. Climate change affects human health and the environment through, among other combined effects, increased air and water pollution, sea-level rise, drought, and zoonotic diseases. These impacts will have a disproportionate effect on the world’s poor.
The annual $20 billion budget of USAID pales by comparison with annual U.S. private flows of $239 billion and NGO/philanthropy transfers of $35 billion from the developed to the developing world. Private remittances by migrants have also taken on a substantial role in driving development through increased consumption in developing countries; according to World Bank data, such remittances increased between 2006 and 2014 from $300 billion annually to $550 billion.12 While much of that total was between Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, developing and emerging economies also benefitted (see Figure 2-1). The highest economic growth rate during those years, outside China and India, was in sub-Saharan Africa, thus providing domestically generated resources for growth.
The amounts of private sector flows are difficult to disaggregate for real effect on STI. Despite overall increases, STI expenditures of U.S.based companies show little overlap with USAID’s STI work. In recent data from the National Science Foundation, U.S. companies invested $294 billion in R&D (which would likely exclude some portion of investment in innovation). Of that total, they invested $39 billion abroad, but very little of that in countries where USAID works. 13 Yet while the U.S. private sector is unlikely to make major research and development (R&D) investments in countries of USAID focus, they do make market-opening investments based significantly on new technologies. This makes them natural partners for USAID. Separately, a gradual change in
12 For example, according to World Bank data, the rise in that period for Pakistan was from $5 billion to $19 billion; for Nepal, from $1.4 billion to $7 billion, for India from $28 billion to $70 billion, and for Yemen from $1.3 billion to $3.4 billion. See http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/BX.TRF.PWKR.CD.DT/countries?display=graph.
13 National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators 2014, NSB 14-01, pp. 4–28, https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind14/content/etc/nsb1401.pdf.
research collaboration is occurring as developing countries’ economies grow and domestic R&D improves. This has created options for USAID to work on STI in countries such as Thailand and India with local and international public- and private-sector partners. There are numerous instances of two-way technological benefit. Countries such as Singapore have a robust STI/entrepreneurial approach, while South Korea, Taiwan, and Israel are global leaders in certain STI-relevant areas. Models of U.S. STI cooperation with these countries have existed over time, some for more than 40 years, with lessons for the future.14
The evolution of the international development landscape has also changed the paradigm for how agencies work with host countries and with each other. Many host-country governments used to prefer to deal with each donor separately; they now recognize the value of coordinated efforts and actively promote them. The changes in the past decade also reflect a revolution in interconnecting technologies (i.e., through the Internet and mobile telephony) and new ways to do business.
Finding 2.2: USAID, other development agencies, and host-country partners are actively experimenting with innovative new approaches to development, including engaging non-traditional partners, more tightly coordinating in support of host-country priorities, and working with private-sector partners to harness increased resources and work toward more sustainable outcomes.
Finding 2.3: USAID and other agencies have markedly increased their focus on evidence-driven approaches and the use of STI methods and data to plan, implement, and evaluate development programs.
Finding 2.4: USAID’s new approaches to development will reach their potential only if the capacity exists in partner countries to adapt and sustain the underlying knowledge.
14 For example, the U.S.-Israel binational foundations BIRD (Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development) and BARD (U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund) may offer prototypes of STI cooperation going forward with a growing set of countries other than middle-income countries like Israel.
USAID’s Comparative Advantages
Given the important and ongoing transformation of development assistance and relationships among donors, developing-country partners, and the private sector, it is important to consider USAID’s comparative advantages as they relate to STI+P.
First, through its dedicated U.S. and host-country staff, USAID has substantial on-the-ground knowledge and understanding of country priorities, opportunities, and constraints in the places where it works. USAID can draw upon more than five decades of field presence and experience to further its own work and the work of others. Other U.S. agencies, private-sector partners, and academic researchers can make important contributions, but often lack field presence and experience on which to draw.
Second, this capability enables USAID to convene partners and implementers within host countries and among donors, businesses, and international NGOs across a broad spectrum ranging from agriculture and health to economics and governance. As a credible convener, USAID can help scale advances through strategic funding, align diverse partners toward a common goal, and bring evidence that influences policies of host governments. USAID’s strength as a catalyst could act as an important force to mobilize the capabilities of other U.S. government agencies and partners and to implement solutions to social and economic challenges at scale.
Third, science, technology, and innovation rely on an enabling environment. USAID can support the growth of individual and institutional capacity in host countries by helping to identify and fill a country’s gaps in specific expertise, systems and processes, laws and policies, and infrastructure. USAID can serve as a sustaining partner for long-term institutional change and capacity-building developed with the private and public sectors, if it has long-term funding and is not measured by short-term result outputs. USAID has a long-standing reputation for investing in the systems (policy and institutional) that pay dividends over the long term through enhanced domestic capacity to address ongoing issues.15
15 Aid effectiveness principles have been negotiated, implemented, and evaluated by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD. One way to measure U.S. leadership is to examine its adherence to the Paris Declaration. Available
(See Box 2-1 for an example of the role played by USAID in strengthening the STI capabilities of South Korea and subsequent benefits to both countries.)
Finding 2.5: USAID has three areas of comparative advantage to meet emerging 21st century social and economic challenges: its deep field experience and long-term presence, its role as a respected convener and catalyst, and its capability to support long-term individual and systemic change to strengthen the enabling environment for STI advances.
Collaborating with Diverse Partners to Capitalize on Unique Strengths
The emergence of nodes of rapid economic growth and associated adoption of technology among developing nations in Asia and elsewhere has challenged USAID to transform into a nimbler partner and catalyst for change. The premise of new STI programs at USAID, such as Development Innovation Ventures16 and the Grand Challenges for Development,17 is that public agencies should foster the development, ad-
16 The Development Innovation Ventures model is described as follows: “we hold a competition for bold development ideas, we pilot them in small increments and test their effects, and we scale those that demonstrate widespread impact and cost-efficiency. In the innovative process, we find both failures and successes: but when ideas fail, we learn that quickly and at relatively low expense; and when ideas succeed, we find out how to reach millions of people at a fraction of the usual cost.”
17 According to USAID: “The Grand Challenges for Development initiative is rooted in two fundamental beliefs about international development: (1) Science and technology, when applied appropriately, can have transformational effects; and (2) Engaging the world in the quest for solutions is critical to instigating breakthrough progress. Grand Challenges for Development focus global attention and resources on specific, well defined international development problems, and promote innovative approaches, processes and solutions to solving them. They engage non-traditional solvers such as businesses, researchers, and scientists around critical development problems in a variety of ways through partnerships, prizes, challenge grant funding, crowdsourcing, and
aptation, and scaling of innovations from multiple sources—individuals, private sector, universities, other agencies—that have the capacity to solve problems in developing countries. Beyond tackling specific challenges, new relationships that bring together diverse partners may also result in expanded policy and commercial opportunities.
The flow of private-sector capital into developing countries, also discussed above, has a major impact on growing new industries, building infrastructure, and providing the financial underpinning of human capital development essential for STI. Today, 91 percent of the financial flows from the United States to developing countries come from private sources: investment, remittances, and foundations.18 From large multinational corporations to small local start-ups, companies have partnered through USAID or other organizations—USAID reports partnerships with more than 1,600 different private entities over the past 12 years, many of which bring new technologies into developing countries.19 In 2015 alone, USAID had 360 partnerships with the private sector that generated $4.9 billion in cash and in-kind contributions.20 A long-standing example is the commitment by Merck to provide doses of ivermectin to Africa and Latin America to fight onchocerciasis and elephantiasis, now reaching 250 million people annually and a total of 2 billion doses since the program began in 1987. New commitments may also take on a more structural or entrepreneurial nature, met in part by the private sector. For example, in spring 2016, Johnson & Johnson opened a new global health unit in South Africa to develop products related to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and maternal and child health.21
more to identify innovations that work. To date, USAID has launched eight Grand Challenges for Development.”
18 USAID, U.S. Global Development Lab Strategy, 2016–2020, p. 17.
19Partnering for Impact: USAID and the Private Sector, https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/15396/usaid_partnership%20report_FINAL_0.pdf.
20 U.S. GDL Strategy, p. 17.
21 Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health, http://www.jnj.com/global-public-health; Creative Associates International, Trends in Global Development, http://www.creativeassociatesinternational.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Survey_Of_Trends.pdf. The latter reference (p. 7) notes that these partnerships involved 3,000 entities with a total lifetime investment of $20 billion, but “because of inconsistency in data collected over time it is not possible to make definitive claims
Johnson & Johnson is also a founding partner of Mental Health Now (mhNOW), a coalition to find and accelerate solutions that address a worldwide unmet need to improve mental health.22
about the effectiveness of these partnerships in delivering services compared to traditional methods for delivering development assistance.”
Chapter 5 further discusses new programs that USAID has put into place to allow it to reach outside the agency to partner more effectively with other U.S. government agencies, individuals, the private sector, and bilateral and multilateral agencies.
The following sections highlight the approaches of a selection of other bilateral and multilateral agencies, foundations, and host-country partners in responding to a changed development landscape and integrating a broader set of partners into their STI work.
Government aid agencies provided $132 billion in 2015 in official development assistance, according to the OECD. While science, technology, and innovation are not broken out as separate statistical categories, donors place varying degrees of emphasis on this work. The brief summaries below illustrate aspects of STI used by agencies in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Sweden.
The UK Department for International Development (DFID) does not call out STI explicitly in its five priorities, but STI plays an important role, and in the past has had even more prominence.23 For instance, the response to humanitarian disasters calls for DFID to “continue to invest in research and development, building resilience to shocks and instability.”24 Likewise, eliminating extreme poverty includes “leading a major new global programme to accelerate the development of vaccines and drugs to eliminate the world’s deadliest infectious diseases.”25 DFID also invests on a small scale in broad technology competitions; one example is Agri-Tech Catalyst, an opportunity announced in 2016 to stimulate UK businesses and universities to develop innovations in partnership with developing countries.26 Another example that has taken on global di-
23 House of Commons, Science and Technology Committee. The Use of Science in UK International Development Policy. Thirteenth Report of Session 2003-2004, Volume 1, October 2004.
24 DFID Single Departmental Plan, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dfid-single-departmental-plan-2015-to-2020/single-departmental-plan-2015-to-2020, para 2.1.
25 Ibid., para 4.1.
26 Agri-Tech Catalyst, https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/biosciencesktn/agri-tech-catalyst.
mensions, through DFID leadership, is a five-year strategy to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in animals and humans.27 While the UK’s £369 million commitment to international AMR programs in 2015–2016 is notable, it is equally impressive to see the global coalition of funders and additional investments that DFID has mobilized. DFID’s rationale for its research support has relevance for other development agencies, including USAID: “Research is at the heart of DFID’s thinking. High quality research which generates strong and applicable evidence helps us build good development programmes. Research can open up new possibilities and empower us to deal with difficult problems.”28
The Canadian commitment to STI+P spans multiple agencies: the principal foreign assistance agency (located in Global Affairs Canada), Grand Challenges Canada, and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). IDRC has the mandate “to initiate, encourage, support, and conduct research into the problems of the developing regions of the world and into the means for applying and adapting scientific, technical, and other knowledge to the economic and social advancement of those regions.” In a separate research function from the other two agencies, IDRC has trained developing-country nationals and provided grants to Canadian and foreign institutions to address specific problems. IDRC maintains two major databases with extensive retrievable research project records, impact studies, and scholarly output.29 IDRC has also taken the idea of crowdsourcing to its logical conclusion, inviting anyone to send in an “unsolicited concept note” about an opportunity to the appropriate IDRC department at any time30 (although the vast majority of support remains the traditional solicitation/request for proposal.) Grand Challenges Canada is a leader in the global movement to organize innovative approaches to problem-solving for some of the most acute global health problems.31 It has an extensive system of tracking impacts,
30 IDRC Unsolicited Concept Notes, https://www.idrc.ca/en/funding/unsolicited-concept-notes.
31 For Grand Challenges Canada, a grand challenge is a specific critical barrier that, if removed, would help solve an important health problem in the develop-
and has encouraged replication of its model on a regional and national basis.32
As a third example, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has been a leader among European development agencies in mobilizing and deploying science and technology as a key component of development strategies over the last decade.33 Sida has also helped to organize and has contributed to many of the new “challenge” approaches to development innovation. Some have involved USAID, including Power Africa, Making All Voices Count, and Securing Water for Food. Others are more global, including the Global Innovation Fund, Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, and Seed Alliance. Sida’s bilateral programs include significant components of capacity-building and training in STI topics, and the agency holds training sessions on key development topics for public and private organizations in Sweden engaged in developing countries.
A wide variety of multilateral agencies and programs apply STI to global problems. Some are traditional institutions, such as the World Bank and its regional counterparts.34 Other organizations focus on specific areas such as international agricultural research (CGIAR) or the Global Health Security Agenda.35 Some oversee and support a single facility, such as the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), an organization of 22 countries that oversees one of the most advanced research operations in the world. USAID generally interfaces with agencies that have a primary focus on developing countries, where the tech-
ing world, with a high likelihood of global impact through widespread implementation.
33 Sida Challenge Funds, http://www.sida.se/English/partners/resources-forall-partners/Challenge-Funds/.
34 See, for instance, World Bank Group Support for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, An Independent Evaluation, October 2013; OCED, Success Stories, 2013; UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, “Science, technology, and innovation for sustainable development in the global partnership for development beyond 2015.”
nical issues are part of USAID mandate, and where USAID is involved as a funder. Thus, while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and State Department provide U.S. representation to the World Health Organization (WHO), USAID engages with the WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases with funds and technical collaboration.
In the world of economic and social development, the scale of resources matters. Awareness of where and how major funders such as the World Bank are investing in research and development affects how USAID plans its own work and potential collaborations. While it is difficult to quantify the monetary level of “STI projects” because of how it accounts for these investments,36 the World Bank does invest major resources. It maintains the largest database of development indicators in the world, including science and technology indicators such as research and development investment, scientific/technical personnel levels, and production of patent/trademark applications,37 and has developed ambitious targeted projects to build research capacity. For instance, in 2014 the World Bank launched a $290 million university-based Africa Centers of Excellence project focused on seven countries and 19 centers in West and Central Africa, financed through International Development Association (IDA) credits (along with funding for East Africa from the African Development Bank).38 The program expanded in 2015 to 10 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa with a minimum additional commitment of $140 million.39 The large capital required for such institution-building gives the Bank a certain comparative advantage, but also leaves open to bilateral agencies specific as-
36 Michael F. Crawford et al., Review of World Bank Lending for Science and Technology, 1980–2004. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2006. Available at https://www.usp.ac.fj/worldbank2009/frame/Documents/Publications_global/Review_WB_lending_ST_80-04.pdf.
37 World Bank Science & Technology, http://data.worldbank.org/topic/science-and-technology.
38 Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project, http://www.worldbank.org/projects/P126974/strengthening-tertiary-education-africa-through-africa-centers-excellence?lang=en.
39 New centres of excellence for East and Southern Africa, University World News, August 14, 2015, http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=2015081214285548.
pects of capacity-building essential for long-term development (discussed further in Chapter 7).
The United Nations is broadly involved in STI issues and has an importance well beyond its limited financial resources. Multiple agencies (including the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UN Industrial Development Organization, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and World Intellectual Property Organization, along with technical specialized agencies such as the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and WHO) address a broad complex of STI issues, to focus on issues of highest priority to developing countries and to accelerate the flow of benefits from new STI to developing countries.40 The 2015 SDG launch (see above) created a new platform to give prominence to science and technology. At the unveiling of the SDGs, the president of the General Assembly stated, “We know from history that science, technology and innovation are the key drivers of economic growth, of poverty reduction, of rising living standards. Now we must ensure that they are among the central enablers for realizing the SDGs and that all countries, particularly the poorest and those furthest behind, can tap into the benefits of modern science, technology and innovation.”41
The UN Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board was fully engaged in the negotiation of the SDGs, such that the metrics for accomplishing 14 of 17 specific goals are highly STI-intensive. The board’s report in September 2016 provided a blueprint for enhanced engagement by both public and private entities to contribute knowledge to the accomplishment of national and global goals.42 The United States is well-represented in the follow-up multistakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation; indeed, the science advisor to the U.S. secretary of state co-chaired the first forum session. If USAID is to engage partners more broadly in scaling its technologies, the SDGs will inevitably play a role in assessing the choices of investment by partners.
41 Mogens Lykketof, cited at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?page=view&nr=976&type=230&menu=2059.
When the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was launched in 2000, it represented a marked departure in international development, because of its resources and its emphasis on innovation and evidence. In 2015, its global programs dispensed more than $5 billion to invest in “science and technology as well as creative approaches to delivering interventions to solve some of the challenges that prevent people in the poorest countries from thriving.”43 Since its inception, the foundation has granted nearly $37 billion. In addition to investing its own funds, other philanthropists, including Warren Buffett and Michael Bloomberg (see Box 2-2), have invested alongside the Gates Foundation in common STI-intensive approaches to global development related to agriculture, and health.
Through its example, the Gates Foundation has influenced USAID and other development agencies to adopt a more rigorous, data- and evidence-driven approach to funding, program management, and evaluation, as well as through its efforts to engage new people and organizations in development programs. It has also pioneered a venture approach to development by encouraging grantees to try new ideas, measure success and failure early, and pivot the project in the direction that the evidence shows is succeeding.
The foundation launched the Grand Challenges in Global Health program to stimulate new entrants with innovative ideas to work with the foundation on specific diseases. It has awarded 1,517 grants between 2005 and 2016, and has managed its awards so they add up to more than the sum of the separate projects, such as in their style of identifying problems. For example, one initial challenge was to “Develop a Biological Strategy to Deplete or Incapacitate a Disease-transmitting Insect Population.” Within 10 years, Scott O’Neill, a Gates-funded researcher at the University of Queensland, demonstrated results by reducing the life span of Aedes aegypti, and thus preventing such mosquitos from reaching an age when they transmit dengue fever. This approach to disease management is now being scaled.44 The program has
created an ongoing partnership with USAID’s Grand Challenges program and the Grand Challenges Canada program, modeling an approach through which multiple partners can pool funding and efforts to attract solutions to critical problems.
Through its investments and collaborations with other funders, the foundation has also spurred a dramatic expansion of global data collection, improvement, and use for development. Foundation leaders view the expanded use of data as one of the most important transformational forces of the 21st century.45 Over the last decade, USAID has also begun to invest more in building complementary databanks and data collection capacity, such as the GeoCenter in the Global Development Lab that has expanded USAID’s geospatial analysis capability.46
Regional and Host-Country National Institutions
The days when host-country governments and institutions were only “recipients,” if that time ever existed, has long gone. Countries increasingly define their needs for science and technology, as evidenced by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS; see below) or the Public Health Foundation of India,47 among many others.
As countries become increasingly able to set their own STI priorities, it is incumbent on USAID and other development agencies to continue to strengthen this capacity and then respond to the priorities articulated. The need for regional institutions depends on the country. Where economies and STI systems of a country are strong enough to stand on their own, the motivation for regional cooperation is reduced. The strongest national examples have been planning for STI, often in cooperation with bilateral or multilateral agencies, for some years. These countries, which offer valuable case studies, include India, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, and Chile. On the other hand, many countries still need to find access to the world of advanced science and technology, which is likely feasible primarily via regional
45 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Information Sharing Approach, http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/General-Information/Information-Sharing-Approach.
46 “USAID Launches New GeoCenter,” November 10, 2011, https://www.usaid.gov/news-information/press-releases/usaid-launches-new-geocenter.
entities. One strong example that has emerged since 2003 is AIMS (see Box 2-3).
Recommendation 2.1: USAID needs a sharpened policy focus on the value of and access to data to set strategies and measure results. Advanced 21st century data tools, including incorporation of big data, should set the standard for major USAID units to collect, curate, analyze, and share such data for maximum value. Expanding the GeoCenter portfolio would send an important signal to the rest of USAID. The focus on data will also facilitate its dialogues with partner countries, taking into account each country’s contextual factors, and enable the larger funder community to join forces on common goals.
Recommendation 2.2: USAID should recognize its core strengths: its field experience, role as a convener and catalyst, and ability to learn and adapt, if appropriate. By building on these strengths, it can take significant steps to position the agency as a global leader. These strengths should be identified explicitly in future STI strategies.