Global Innovation Exchange (GIE): Technology Platform for Development Innovations and Funding

Global Innovation Exchange was a technology platform with the largest database of development innovations connecting innovators with funding and exposure opportunities. After 4+ years and many successful initiatives, the platform went offline in September 2021 and this page will serve as a central repository for key resources.

The Challenge

Innovation is a catalyst for creating more impactful and equitable health, education and nutrition systems. While there are thousands of innovations that exist across the globe, these innovations and the entrepreneurs or innovators behind them, face a variety of barriers in scaling up the impact of their innovations.

Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) started in 2017 with the objective to help innovators fundraise for their innovations, addressing the largest barrier to scale – access to funding. Additionally, funders spend countless hours sourcing and vetting innovative projects that match their portfolios. At the time, there had been no effort made to create a central source of data on innovation and funding for social innovations.

The Opportunity


To increase innovators’ ability to scale up their development innovations , GIE focuses on making funding data more transparent. This enables innovators to easily discover funding opportunities that match their innovations, and funders are able to easily access information about innovations, including their past funding and other milestones verified by partners.

As an open database, GIE supports the scaling of the most promising development innovations by serving as a reliable fundraising resource for innovators in LMICs, as well as a source of credible innovation data for the development community including funders, scaling partners and others. GIE empowers innovators, funders, and other innovation stakeholders to make data-driven decisions about scaling innovations.

Our Work/Progress/Results

GIE was a multi-stakeholder initiative managed by R4D with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Australian Department of Foreign Assistance and Trade (Australian Aid), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). R4D set the strategic direction for the platform based on surveys and interviews with innovation stakeholders. After rapid design and development, the open platform launched in 2017 at USAID’s Global Innovation Week.

During these 4+ years that it has been active, GIE:

  • Grew into the largest database of global development innovations with 16,000+ innovations. More than 5,000 of these innovations also have a “Verified” badge based on input from 50+ partners. Download a curated version of the GIE database with 7,000+ innovations.
  • Shared trends and gaps in two Global Development Innovation Landscape reports – published in October 2018 and May 2019.
  • GIE’s most popular functionality is a Funding Directory – helping innovators discover from more than USD 3.5B of funding opportunities for their innovations through a curated, filterable database. Nearly 70% of the users consistently reported that they discovered at least one opportunity that was a good fit for their innovation on every visit. Innovators have also shared stories of how GIE made fundraising easier and increased their operational capacity.
  • Ran an engaging Digital Pitch Contest and Workshop in 2018 to support innovators with refining their pitch on their path to getting investment ready in partnership with funders, innovation thought leaders, and storytelling experts.
  • Supported several partners with their innovation programs by providing curated shortlists of innovations, running their Call for Innovations, managing their customized websites powered by GIE tech, and more.
  • GIE has partnered with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs since 2017 to run an annual open Call for Innovations. In 2021, the winners from the 2020 and 2021 Call, were featured in a dynamic Virtual Innovation Exhibit at the UN’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Forum. This 6-part panel series featured innovators working on education; food security; maternal, newborn, and child health; the environment or vulnerable communities.
  • Rapidly launched the COVID-19 Innovation Hub in response to the pandemic in May 2020 to celebrate, source and supply COVID-19 related innovations across 12 response areas.
  • To respond to the changing global context in 2020, the GIE team conducted research about the barriers to scaling the impact of development innovations and the right role for technology platforms in addressing the barriers.

GIE is managed by R4D’s Innovation Practice which works on scaling up innovations and innovation ecosystem strengthening across several programs such as the International Development Innovation Alliance, public sector uptake of health innovations, Frontier Technologies Hub, and Million Lives Club. While the GIE platform is set to sunset in August 2021, R4D will continue to work on other initiatives and programs that leverage GIE learning, data, and network in alignment with the Practice objectives supporting R4D’s mission to create self-sustaining systems that support healthy, educated people. Learn more about R4D’s Innovation Practice.

Approaches:

Location:

Global

Funders:

USAID, Australian Department of Foreign Assistance and Trade (Australian Aid), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA)

Status:

Open

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