Submitted by Will Schmitt, USAID Office of Science and Technology
There is a lot of excitement around Science, Technology, and Innovation at USAID right now. This weekend is one of the reasons why. I arrived this morning at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with my USAID colleagues for the LAUNCH: Health Forum, which is at the cutting edge of USAID’s and the US Government’s efforts to foster innovation in science and technology.
USAID and our LAUNCH founding partners NASA, Nike, and the State Department created LAUNCH because we are seeking game-changing, scalable innovations. For USAID, that often means low-cost, replicable technologies and models poised for impact across multiple regions in the developing world. We are very excited about the group of LAUNCH: Health innovators we have convened. They include, for example:
- A no disposal, biodegradable “needle” for vaccinations/injections that does not require needle disposal or a cold chain (“BIONEEDLE”);
- An extremely low-cost, portable device for administering eye exams in the developing world (“NETRA”);
- A very low-cost mHealth platform that empowers community health workers to keep patient records and track patients via text messaging in remote, rural locations (“FrontLine SMS: Medic”).
You can see the full list of innovators and descriptions of their innovations here: www.usaid.gov/scitech/launch.
The innovators will have the chance to engage in two days of collaboration with the LAUNCH Council, a world class group of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, scientists, engineers, and leaders in government, media, and business. We have assembled the Council to give individualized advice to the innovators and form a network that can help them accelerate their innovations in the near future. And, to indulge in a slightly immodest moment, we are proud to be bringing an all star USAID team to the LAUNCH Council. The team includes Dr. Alex Dehgan, our Science and Technology Adviser to the Administrator; Amie Batson, our Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health; Wendy Taylor, Senior Adviser on Innovative Finance and Public-Private Partnerships in Global Health; and David Ferguson, Deputy Director of the Office of Science and Technology. To get a full sense of the brain power assembled in the LAUNCH Council, check out council member profiles here: http://www.launch.org/council.
I feel truly privileged to be a part of LAUNCH, and I hope the LAUNCH: Health innovators will benefit as much from participating as we do. We’re looking forward to collaborating with them and the council members to move these innovations toward impact.
Please follow LAUNCH this weekend and participate right along with us. Portions of the conference will be viewable live at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/launch-health and you can follow Forum debate and brainstorming live throughout LAUNCH on NASA’s very cool MindMapr tool at http://mindmapr.nasa.gov.