Tackling Government Innovation through a New Funding Model

March 14, 2012

There's no shortage of ideas for ways to better leverage technology to improve health and education in the developing world and there's no shortage of people interested in putting those ideas into practice, the chief innovation officer for the United States Agency for International Development said Wednesday.

The problem, Maura O'Neill said, is traditional funding models tend to scare off federal officials, who are wary of pumping money into unproven ideas that have to be scaled at a national or multinational level. If the ideas prove successful, there's some personal satisfaction, but if they flop the agency or division is tarred with wasting millions in taxpayer dollars.

The solution O'Neill's office arrived at was Development Innovation Ventures, which uses the Silicon Valley model of staged financing with more funding for better developed and proven projects and less for earlier stage and riskier efforts. 

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