PM launches £50m fund to help tech firms fight against poverty

Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron is launching Global Development Innovation Ventures to help entrepreneurs, academics and NGOs find innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems

Ahead of the G8, Prime Minister David Cameron is announcing the launch of Global Development Innovation Ventures, which will receive £50m from the government over five years to help fight against poverty. The new platform is being launched in partnership with the US government and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network.

Global Development Innovation Ventures has four specific goals:

  • to find, develop and test innovations that have the potential to generate significant social impact and economic returns
  • to develop a pipeline of investment-ready innovations, providing a focus for social investors and unlocking commercial capital
  • to create a marketplace to broker co-investment and collaboration between investors and innovators alike
  • to “crowd-in” a global network of partner governments, private investors, foundations and donors with resources to bring proven concepts to widespread adoption

Investment decisions will depend on evidence of impact and cost-effectiveness, whether through a market test if a solution will scale commercially, or through rigorous evaluation if it will scale via public sector adoption.

The programme will offer three stages of funding: the development of proofs-of-concept, the expansion and testing of promising pilots, and the transition of proven concepts to widespread scale.

Commenting on the new programme, International Development Secretary Justine Greening says: “Britain has already supported groundbreaking technology around the world, from mobile banking in Kenya to GPS weather-warning systems in Bangladesh. We need a model that can build on these successes and make sure great ideas that can change the lives of the world’s poorest people get the investment they need.

“This new organisation means that the UK will play a key role in kickstarting a new era of innovative, cost-effective development which can help deliver a safer, more prosperous world.”

Co-investment partners

In addition to the £50m invested by the British government, the programme is expected to attract further investment from others. Private investors, international organisations, governments, foundations, philanthropists and others may co-invest and collaborate along solutions’ pathways to scale.

“The challenges facing those from the poorest communities cannot be solved with conventional approaches to development aid alone,” says Omidyar Network managing partner Matt Bannick.

“Global Development Innovation Ventures promises to replicate the most effective strategies we’ve deployed as a global impact investor: public and private organisations working together, leveraging technology and investing in both for-profit and non-profit organizations to spark innovation and scale successes.”

Once the programme is live, the UK’s Department for International Development will engage with innovators all over the world to encourage them to submit ideas, creating jobs both in the UK and across the developing world.

“More than any time in history, our world is being shaped by innovation, new ideas, new technologies and new companies,” says Prime Minister David Cameron.

“This is the story of the global economy. Countries around the world have got to get this – jobs and growth depend on it. 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. A global race is underway and it is waiting for absolutely no one.”