Global Innovation Fund unveils first investments

The newly-formed Global Innovation Fund (GIF) has announced its first tranche of investments in London today (9 February), with £3m being allocated to eight social innovation projects in the developing world.

GIF-funded projects include Poa Power – a pilot scheme in Kenya that provides off-grid communities with affordable clean energy using an innovative ‘pay-as-you-go” model – and SafeBoda, a mobile technology start-up in Uganda that aims to reduce motorbike accidents and through the creation of an Uber-like network of safe motorcycle taxi drivers.

The GIF is a non-profit innovation fund headquartered in London, with $200m funding from the UK Department of International Development and equivalent bodies from the US, Sweden and Australia. Its stated mission is to “invest in social innovations that improve the lives of millions of people in the developing world”.

The GIF marks a new way of providing international aid for dedeveoping nations, after the UK Government’s recent revision of its foreign aid agenda called for “a step-change in the effectiveness of the UK’s approach to aid”, whilst the UN’s new international development agenda suggested a reinvigorated approach to ending poverty.

At the fund’s conception, Prime Minster David Cameron said: “More than any time in history our world is being shaped by innovation, new ideas, new technologies and new companies…We’ve all got to open up our economies to innovation, we’ve got to nurture new ideas, we’ve got to bend over backwards to attract the best and the brightest.” 

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: “This new organisation means that the UK will play a key role in kick-starting a new era of innovative, cost-effective development which can help deliver a safer, more prosperous world.”

Summary of new GIF investments

  1. A £525,000 equity investment in Segovia, a software technology platform that radically improves the efficiency of aid by making it faster, cheaper, and more secure to transfer funds directly to vulnerable populations. 

  1. A £160,000 convertible note investment in SafeBoda, a start-up company that is reducing motorbike accident deaths and injuries in Uganda, through the creation of an Uber-like network of safe motorcycle taxi (“Boda”) drivers.

  1. £480,000 in grants to Young 1ove and Evidence Action to support the expansion and rigorous testing of a creative peer education approach to empower girls in secondary school in Botswana to reduce their risks of HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancies.

  1. A £210,000 grant to Educate! to support the testing, expansion, and government adoption of a skills-based educational programme in Uganda and Rwanda. The program empowers young people to improve their incomes through an innovative curriculum of entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and business clubs.

  1. A £1.5 million grant to Development Media International to rigorously test the impact of a radio-based behaviour change campaign to encourage women in Burkina Faso to prevent unwanted pregnancies through the use of modern contraceptives.

  1. A £150,000 convertible loan to Poa Power for a pilot in Kenya of a new business model that provides off-grid communities with affordable clean energy using an innovative ‘pay-as-you-go” model.

  1. A £120,000 grant to Valid Nutrition to test a new food supplement in Malawi that can be made with local ingredients and which is intended to reduce the cost of combating acute malnutrition in children.

  1. A £155,000 grant to the Newborn Foundation to pilot in China and the Philippines a life-saving neonatal technology that screens new-born babies for infections like pneumonia and congenital heart defects – at less than 10% of the cost of traditional screening.

Innovation Zone ar edie Live

2016 will see the return of the Innovation Zone at the edie Live 2016 exhibition on May 17-18 at the NEC Birmingham. SMEs that have developed green technologies, systems or business models are invited to enter a new competition designed to promote and support innovation in the sustainability space.

The Innovation Zone Competition is looking for the best green ideas that edie Live can help turn into market-ready propositions. Find out more and enter here.

Brad Allen

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