WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.), along with Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), have introduced bipartisan legislation to authorize the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Global Development Lab to expand innovative public-private partnerships focused on helping hundreds of millions of people worldwide lift themselves out of extreme poverty. S. 2502, the Global Development Lab Act, also is cosponsored by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Companion legislation, H.R. 4905, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) and Michael McCaul (R-TX-10).
Building on more than two dozen current partnerships, the Global Development Lab brings together entrepreneurs, experts, nongovernmental organizations, universities, and science and research institutions to solve development challenges in a faster, more cost-efficient, and more sustainable way. The Lab utilizes a pay-for-success model, which uses science, technology, and innovation-driven competitions to expand the number and diversity of solutions to development challenges. This means that instead of issuing grants or contacts, USAID can give a competitor an award only after the objectives of the competition have been achieved.
“Never before has United States faced such a complex set of global challenges. The cost-effective and long-term solution to these challenges is our investment in global development. And when government partners with businesses, NGOs, entrepreneurs and innovators to tackle the world’s greatest development challenges, the possibilities are endless,” said Senator Cardin. “This Act gives USAID the flexibility it needs to invest, test, and bring to scale solutions to development challenges and empowers the Global Development Lab to be the world’s most innovative incubator of global development projects.”
“The pathway to the future is private-public partnerships. When you can combine the collective talents of our private sector, NGO’s, foundations and universities, you are certain to produce results. Problems like food insecurity, preventable child and maternal deaths, and lack of energy and clean water access are certainly worthy of our efforts. This program will bring some of the world’s best and brightest to the table to come-up with innovative solutions to these problems,” said Senator Boozman.
“The United States has always played a critical role in addressing development challenges, but the time has come for that role to evolve,” Senator Coons said. “USAID has an opportunity to really innovate by harnessing private sector ideas and resources and by leveraging new technology and new research. This innovation has the power to fundamentally transform how the United States engages with the developing world, helping eradicate extreme poverty, improve public health, and build local economies. The key is to make smarter choices and sustainable investments, and to invest in innovation, in science, and in research and development. The Global Development Lab can transform the way we approach the challenges facing the developing world and I strongly support its establishment.”
“By collaborating with the world’s brightest minds, companies and organizations, we can leapfrog traditional development barriers and deliver breakthrough solutions to tackle the greatest development challenges of our time,” said Congressman Castro. “This bill will authorize the U.S Global Development Lab to bring together public and private innovators from around the world to carry out our nation’s development goals and lend itself to a more purposeful U.S. foreign policy.”
“The Global Development Lab Act will transform the way the U.S. provides global development assistance by harnessing the innovation of entrepreneurs and leveraging the talent and resources of the private sector and the research community,” said Congressman McCaul. “This public-private partnership model will deliver more cost-effective, innovative solutions to the world’s myriad development challenges by investing in ideas and technology that are proven to work. By taking this new approach, we will save taxpayer’s money while fulfilling key strategic foreign policy objectives.”
The newly created U.S. Global Development Lab seeks to increase the application of science, technology, innovation and partnerships to achieve, sustain and extend USAID’s development impact to help hundreds of millions of people lift themselves out of extreme poverty. The Lab’s mission is to discover, test, and scale breakthrough development innovations to solve development challenges faster and cheaper in support of U.S. foreign policy and development goals.
The Lab will focus around nine initial problem sets: (1) Food Security and Nutrition; (2) Modernizing Food Assistance; (3) Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths; (4) Energy Access; (5) Water Solutions; (6) Child Literacy; (7) Financial Inclusion; (8) Rights, Participation and Accountability; and (9) Humanitarian Response.
The text of S. 2502, the Senate Global Development Act, can be found at this link.