Innovation into Action Challenge

Does your organization have a product or service that could make a difference for people in emerging economies?

Take the Innovation into Action Challenge and earn the chance to compete for $100,000 in prizes, build relationships with development professionals and their firms, and put your innovation into action in one of 100 locations around the world.

The Innovation into Action Challenge provides the first step on the ladder to investment, access to donor-funded projects, and the support services critical to grow your businesses. 

The competition is open to small companies, nonprofit organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide. You must have a product or service that is beyond the idea stage and has generated at least one transaction. Your business model must be scalable, and your startup must have less than $5 million in revenue in the past year. 



What is the Challenge?

The Innovation into Action Challenge is designed to surface the ideas, products, and services that will help people in developing nations tackle their most pressing social and economic development problems. All submissions are welcome, across the spectrum of needs and sectors in emerging economies: food security, water, natural resources, energy, supply chains, and so on. We are particularly interested in six client groups and product/service areas:





  • Governance and Services: Fostering dialogue between governments and citizens.
  • Workforce Development: Equipping young people with skills and ways to connect to the labor market.
  • Data Analytics: Improving monitoring, service delivery, and impact of projects related to health, education, energy, water and sanitation.
  • Knowledge Management: Facilitating learning and collaboration among development partners.
  • Climate Change Adaptation: Helping monitor and respond to changes in the environment.
  • Agriculture: Improve and secure food production and distribution.


Who can apply?

The competition is open to for-profit and not-for-profit businesses. You must have a product or service that is beyond the idea stage and has generated at least one transaction.

How do I apply?

The application form is short, simple, and entirely online

What's the prize?

We’re offering a prize pool worth $100,000, consisting of cash awards plus an opportunity to product/market test your idea in the field. DAI will provide pre- and post-trip mentoring on an all-expenses-paid visit for two people to a DAI project overseas for each winner. 

How will winners be selected?

The application window will be open through March 11, 2016. Once the applications are submitted, they will be reviewed to ensure they meet minimum requirements and fulfill the overall objectives of the challenge. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to Maryland to pitch their innovation and compete for three awards. 

Three winners will be selected. Each winner will be awarded:

  • $20,000 in funding
  • Matchmaking with one of DAI's projects, including a fully-funded visit to the selected project for networking, product testing, market analysis, and more
  • Access to a network of innovation accelerator professionals through the challenge partners
  • Coaching and technical mentoring to refine their pitch, product, or service, with an eye to commercialization and/or contract assignments with development organizations like DAI

Four criteria will be considered when reviewing applications:

  1. Readiness: Is the solution ready for Development Industry use?
  2. Effectiveness and Impact: How well does the proposed solution address the development challenge?
  3. Sustainability and Scale: Can the innovation generate sustainable revenue?
  4. Replicability and Management Capacity: Is management capable of implementing the innovation and replicating it in the field?

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Tolani BusariComment