USAID Development Innovation Ventures

Applications accepted and evaluated on rolling basis throughout the year. Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) is USAID’s open innovation program that (a) tests and scales creative solutions to any global development challenge, while (b) investing in breakthrough innovations driven by rigorous evidence. Innovations include products, services, applications of new business or delivery models, and production processes.

Open to public, private, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations, as well as institutions of higher education, public international organizations, non-governmental organizations from the United States and beyond. Multilateral and international donor organizations are also eligible.

Flexible, tiered grant funding is provided to test new ideas, take strategic risks, build evidence of what works, and advance the best solutions:

Stage 1: Proof of Concept (Up to USD $200,000 – up to 3 years). A Stage 1 innovation is at initial stages of implementation and needs to be tested within a market to understand interest from consumers, impact, and feasibility. While a strong theory of change is critical, the impact of the innovation may be less obvious on “direct beneficiaries” in the short-term. Innovations must be post-prototype or ideation phase, but pre-revenue innovations are considered at this stage.

Stage 2: Testing and Positioning for Scale (USD $200,000 to $1,500,000 – up to 3 years) Smaller Stage 2 awards (up to $500,000) are generating evidence of user demand beyond the proof of concept. For commercial models, Stage 2 awards support the generation of a sustainable business model and, therefore, innovations should be post-revenue. Innovations should be collecting data on usage as well as proxies for eventual social impact, however, clear and rigorous evidence of impact is not needed in the lower range of funding levels for this stage.

Larger scale Stage 2 innovations (over $500,000) must include or test the evidence of impact of an innovation. This evidence of impact must be causal and rigorous – the grantee must either have rigorous underlying evidence already established, use this funding to run an evaluation with an evaluation partner, or run an evaluation with its own funding during the grant period. There must be demonstrated significant demand for the innovation.

Stage 3: Scaling (USD $1,500,000 to $5,000,000 – up to 5 years). Innovations with an expected private sector scaling pathway should have already demonstrated commercial viability in their existing location and the ability to attract commercial and/or impact capital on market terms that would allow sustained expansion, as well as a prima facie case for development impact based on causal, rigorous evidence and demonstration of cost-effectiveness. For commercial innovations, organizations should no longer need donor funding for basic operations; rather, these funds should be used to attract external funding, or for strategic partnerships to scale to new contexts. Stage 3 investments in commercial projects will only be considered on a pari passu (“equal footing”) basis with other donors/investors, and not as the lead donor. For public sector innovations, organizations should have partnerships with the government or other organizations in place to scale the innovation.

DIV also provides Evidence Grants (up to USD $1,500,000) to support research and evaluations that generate rigorous evidence of an innovation’s impact per dollar and potential for expansion. These applications are evaluated separately from proposals for tiered funding.

All solutions should demonstrate rigorous evidence of impact, cost-effectiveness, and a viable pathway to scale and sustainability.