USAID and its partners in the LAUNCH program (NASA, the State Department, and NIKE, Inc.) have issued our LAUNCH: Energy challenge statement, formally beginning the third module of the LAUNCH program.  While previous program modules in 2010 and early 2011 focused on water and health, in this module LAUNCH is searching for entrepreneurial efforts focused on the development of innovative products, services, and programs in the energy sector. We are specifically seeking transformative innovations to improve access to energy, energy efficiency, and/or energy technologies, for both the developed and developing worlds.  We believe that USAID’s engagement in LAUNCH: Energy is timely.  Expanding access to cleaner energy is one of the most pressing development challenges of the 21st century, and we know that disruptive thinking, programs, and businesses are required to tackle this challenge.

LAUNCH’s mission is to search for, showcase, and support innovators poised for potential large-scale impact on humanity’s most pressing sustainability challenges.  LAUNCH will select a group of approximately ten energy innovators from around the world to attend the LAUNCH: Energy Forum at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to be held November 10-13, 2011.  During the Forum, LAUNCH Innovators will present their solutions to the LAUNCH Council, which includes leading figures from the business, international development, policy, engineering, science, communications, and sustainability sectors.  The Forum sessions are designed to provide targeted advice to Innovators on their business and program challenges and to identify future opportunities.  LAUNCH Innovators will also receive about four months of individually tailored technical assistance from the LAUNCH team and its resource partners.

USAID and our partners would love to have your help in casting the net as widely as possible in our search for leading edge energy innovators.  We encourage you to circulate the challenge statement within your networks. The challenge statement, application instructions, and background information on LAUNCH are all available here (pdf 240kb).  The challenge statement is an open, public call for applications; individuals and organizations in the for-profit, not-for-profit, university/research, and social enterprise sectors are all eligible.  The application period is currently open and will close in mid-September; you can apply directly through the platform on the LAUNCH website.

The LAUNCH team and the Office of Science and Technology at USAID are very excited about our role in the program and about its potential to accelerate transformative innovations that will drive development progress.  We have been continually surprised and invigorated by what we have learned through our work in shaping and running LAUNCH, and this LAUNCH-derived body of knowledge influences much of our work on a day-to-day basis.  As a result, we cannot wait to see what surprises and opportunities LAUNCH: Energy will present for everyone involved!

Please watch this blog and in the weeks before the LAUNCH: Energy Forum (early November) for updates on the Innovators chosen for the Forum and on our exciting plans for LAUNCH: Energy.