Worldwide: Innovation prizes for international development challenges (Ideas to Impact)

Solving the problems faced by the poorest through prize-driven innovation.

Ideas to Impact is designing and launching five innovation prizes to stimulate research and incentivise solutions that  will improve low-income communities’ resilience to climate change and access to affordable clean energy, safe drinking water and sanitation services.

The internet now provides unlimited opportunities for posting problems to wide audiences, dramatically increasing the rate of problem-solving, often from unexpected sources. This open innovation is gaining momentum worldwide in the public and private sectors.

Innovation prizes build on open innovation principles incentivising participation, generating a media buzz, and helping capture the imagination of communities.

Ideas to Impact is testing the potential of innovation prizes for spurring development outcomes and catalysing advances in environmental technologies for the benefit of the poorest.

  • £7.5 million total prize disbursement available
  • £35 million inward investment targeted through impact investing, crowdsourcing & other sources

In February 2017, Ideas to Impact convened the Innovating in Development Learning Event in London, in collaboration with the Department for International Development (DFID), USAID and The Rockefeller Foundation

This two-day workshop brought together passionate and inspiring innovators, funders, implementers and evaluators of development and humanitarian innovation programmes. Participants shared practical experiences, successes and failures to highlight lessons that we could all learn from to enable more impact in our innovation programmes, and connected with the hope of building a community of practice to take this learning forward in the future.

Inno Dev

We were lucky enough to have a rich mix of participants from organisations such as Oxfam UK, Practical Action, Shell Foundation, Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF), Itad Ltd, Institute of Development Studies, and the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), to mention just a few.

Participants spent the two days sharing, reflecting and refining their experiences of funding, designing, implementing and evaluating innovation focused development programmes, focusing on the following specific themes:

  • Innovating in Development: Where are we now and where do we need to get to?
  • Scaling, replication and diffusion
  • Innovation Ecosystems
  • Risk: Working proactively with risk

To read the report summarising the discussions, learning, case studies and practical tools generated at the second day of the Innovating in Development Learning Event, click here.

Project Name

Ideas to Impact

project status



UK Department for International Development (DFID)

contact person

Bryony Everett

Director, Global Programmes

Alex Scoines

Principal Consultant, Management Services
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last updated

May 30, 2019