[In this blog, Sweta Govani, lead of the Global Innovation Exchange, which R4D manages, shares how Global Innovation Exchange provides the data needed to help scale innovations in global development.]
Innovation can take many forms, especially when addressing global development challenges. This can involve new products, a new business model, a new application of an existing idea and more – and there are thousands of such social innovations already on the market, many of them largely unknown. This means solutions to some of the most persistent social sector problems affecting people in low- and middle-income countries may already exist. And there is growing awareness about the importance of scaling promising, existing innovations in global development versus finding shiny new solutions, so they can reach those who need them most and create system-wide change in emerging markets.
However, one of the challenges of scaling tested and proven global development innovations is the incomplete, complicated and fragmented information about these innovations. The global development industry as a whole is wildly opaque, and the data that is available is dispersed in hard-to-find files, outdated databases, or in private internal systems. This makes the business of funding, supporting and scaling innovations incredibly time-consuming, costly and risky at best.
Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) is a data-driven technology platform with various supporting agencies, managed by Results for Development. It is addressing this challenge by giving funders, social entrepreneurs and others easy access to high-quality and up-to-date information about existing innovations, funding opportunities and funding history across emerging markets. Anyone can add their social innovations to the platform and include the basic details about the innovation, as well as key milestones achieved. GIE partners with funders and other ecosystem players to identify and verify these innovations, using milestones that can serve as a badge of validation, such as funds raised or recognitions earned. EnerGaia, for example, has a verified-funds-raised milestone for October 2016 (of $381,325) from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.