$25M to Establish New USAID program

MIT will receive up to $25 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of a new five-year project intended to fight poverty by developing and evaluating useful technologies for communities around the globe.

“People here really care about doing something for the world’s poor,” says Bish Sanyal, the Ford International Professor of Urban Development and Planning in DUSP, who is one of the leaders of the Institute’s participation in the project.

MIT’s role in the new program will involve two related but distinct enterprises: The Institute’s D-Lab will help lead a consortium of higher-education institutions in creating the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN), which aims to foster and provide structure for technological innovation in developing countries. The Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation (CITE) — which DUSP and six other groups within MIT will help develop — will assess technologies intended to alleviate poverty and determine which will have the most impact.

“We were very excited when we heard about this grant,” says D-Lab founder Amy Smith, a senior lecturer in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. The USAID backing, she adds, represents “an effort to promote local innovation and to increase the problem-solving and creative capacities of communities around the world, so that people are solving problems [themselves] rather than relying on external sources.”

(excerpted from MIT news -- for more, see this link.)