Harnessing Science, Technology & Innovation to Promote Global Development

Ed. note: Tune in at 11:00 a.m. EST to WhiteHouse.gov/live for an Open for Questions event. Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director of the National Security Council and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy & Senior Advisor for Science, Technology, and Innovation, National Economic Council will take your questions on the role of science, technology and innovation in global development.

Today at the White House, senior Administration officials announced a series of new initiatives to promote game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges.  Answering President Obama’s call to harness science technology, and innovation to spark global development, the Administration announced initiatives from across the government to generate new development solutions.  Announcements include new partnerships with universities; greater use of scientific breakthroughs through expedited technology transfer of federally-funded inventions; a program to reward inventors who use their patented technologies to address humanitarian needs; and initiatives to leverage advances in Internet and communications technologies to provide new development tools.

In an increasingly globalized world, the Obama Administration recognizes that global development is vital to national security and is a strategic, economic, and moral imperative.  One of the cornerstones of our global development policy is a commitment to investments in game-changing innovations with the potential to solve long-standing development challenges in health, food security, environmental sustainability, and broad-based economic growth.  Innovation can play a key role in building a stable, inclusive global economy with new sources of prosperity, advancing democracy and human rights, and helping us to increase the ranks of prosperous, capable, and democratic states that can be our partners in the decades to come.

Administrator Raj Shah announced that USAID is launching a new partnership with universities and research institutes to define and solve large development challenges.  USAID also announced new commitments to increased utilization of electronic and mobile payments to save on costs and increase financial access; a new effort to make assistance to other governments in telecommunications development more efficient; a new “app store” for development to spur humanitarian apps and software; and new commitments to mobile education technology as part of USAID’s All Children Reading grand challenge for development. 

The United States Patent & Trademark Office announced thePatents for Humanity pilot program that rewards patent owners for using their patented technology to address humanitarian needs. The National Institutes of Health launched a new model licensing agreement to expedite licenses to not-for-profit institutions with a demonstrated commitment to diligence in providing broad global access to technologies. The Department of Energy will offer a reduced fee license on certain clean energy technologies to not-for-profit organizations with a demonstrated commitment to providing global access to clean technologies and services.

Additionally, NIH announced that it is joining with private sector partners to develop Global Health Connect, a free online database of disease data and information that will bring disparate databases and research together to accelerate the development of lifesaving treatments and combat the neglected tropical diseases that afflict the world's poorest people. Likewise, the United States Department of Agriculture and its partners launched GRIN-Global, a plant genebank information management system that enables researchers to more efficiently source crop breeding material with specific traits.  Additionally, USDA announced a partnership with CABI Plantwise to increase food security by decreasing crop losses in 19 countries through internet-connected “plant doctors.”

Additional information on today’s announcements is available here, or view the President’s Policy Directive on Global Development.

Today’s announcements and call to action highlight a whole-of-government approach to innovation for global development and demonstrate the importance of partnerships between the government and the private sector, including universities, corporations, and non-profits.  In a time of tight budgets, it is critical that we maximize the impact and effectiveness of our investments, unleash the ingenuity and vision of our nation’s inventors and entrepreneurs, and help to scale strategies that have been shown to work.

Read the fact sheet: Harnessing Innovation for Global Development

Gayle Smith is Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director for Development and Democracy at the National Security Council. Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy & Senior Advisor for Science, Technology, and Innovation, National Economic Council.
Related Topics: Innovations, Technology
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