Applications are now open for the Global Innovation Fund (GIF), a social impact-first investment vehicle that works with mission-aligned development agencies, philanthropy, and other funders to find and fund evidence-based innovations with the potential to positively impact the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people.
GIF play a distinct role alongside existing development assistance by taking smart risks public agencies cannot use a range of financial instruments to achieve the mission. They help guide entrepreneurs through their journey to scale using a venture-style staged funding approach where more speculative ideas receive smaller amount of support and increased funding follows successful testing and achievement of proof points.
- Pilot (up to $230,000)
- Stage of development: Pilot innovations are at an early stage but you have a credible plan for how it can be developed and tested in a real-world setting.
- Test & Transition (up to $2.3m)
- Stage of development: For test and transition investment your innovation has already shown promise of success at a small scale, and you have some information on your operational, social, and financial viability which you want to solidify before you scale.
- Scale (up to $15m)
- Stage of development: For scale investment your innovation should have a clear evidence base and a credible plan for scaling to reach millions of people which is logistically, politically and financially feasible.
What they fund?
- At GIF, they believe that innovation, by which they mean any solution that has potential to address an important development problem more effectively than existing approaches, can come from anyone, anywhere.
- This means that they accept applications working in any sector in any developing country.
- Any type of organisation may apply. This includes social enterprises, for-profit companies, non-profit organisations, government agencies, international organisations, and research institutions in any country. It is recommended that individual innovators, entrepreneurs, or researchers apply through an affiliated organisation.
- An open application window does not mean, however, that all development projects are a good fit for GIF. They seek out innovations they believe have the greatest potential to improve the lives of millions of people living in poverty and only select those innovations which:
- Are focussed on the poor
- GIF is focussed on finding new ways of improving lives for those living in poverty. They seek innovations which are designed to bring benefits for those who live on the equivalent of $5 a day and they are especially interested in funding innovative solutions that impact those living on less $2 a day or other vulnerable or disadvantaged groups.
- Are novel approaches which are not commonplace
- As an innovation funder they do not invest in business as usual. Rather, to meet the criteria your innovation must be new approach which differs from solutions which are already widely practiced. This could be a new business model, policy practice, technology, or new ways of delivering products and services that benefit the poor.
- Can improve upon alternatives solutions
- If you have a new approach which brings benefits to the poor and is not already widely used, the next question is the most important… how does it improve upon existing or competing approaches? They choose the innovations which have the strongest rationale for their approach can be more viable, impactful or cost effective than alternative solutions.
- Are backed by evidence of potential impact
- They expect that innovations they support are informed by evidence of what works. This evidence might focus on the changes in the lives of your beneficiaries or customers, or ‘how-to’ evidence on how your solution can be deployed or scaled successfully.
- Can be widely applied in many different settings
- They focus on approaches which can be widely used or applied in many developing countries and do not consider innovations which are only viable solutions in one local context. Investing in innovation is all about learning about the potential of new solutions, and they want that learning to benefit others who are facing similar challenges in different settings.
- Have the potential to scale to reach millions of people
- GIF only funds innovations which have the potential to scale to benefit millions of people. Scaling can take place through any number of ways– growth of a successful business or through uptake by a government partner, for example – and they seek those innovations which have the most credible plans for how scale can be achieved and sustained without relying on ongoing investment from GIF or indefinite philanthropic funding.
- Are led by strong and dynamic teams
- They look for innovations which are backed by teams which have a deep understanding of the problems they are tackling and the context in which they are working. Applicants should demonstrate the track records and skills needed to leverage the partnerships required to succeed and navigate the challenges which come with scaling innovations.
- Are ready for investment
- Innovations must be ready to be applied in a real-world setting so that the funding can contribute to your understanding of what works and your progress toward scale, so if your innovation needs more work before putting it to the test then it is recommended you apply at a later date. For commercial enterprises, they look for strong markers of consumer demand or willingness to pay before investing.
- Will generate new knowledge on what works
- GIF looks for teams which share the passion for evidence and are committed to using the investment to generate new evidence on potential impacts and how to scale effectively, and to sharing learning to showcase successes (and failures) to others facing similar development challenges.
- Have a clear role for GIF
- GIF seeks to fill market gaps and is especially interested in supporting innovations that may otherwise struggle to find appropriate forms of funding. They aim to make smart investments which can attract more funding to the most promising approaches, so they look for applications which have a clear rationale for why GIF is needed and how partnering with GIF can contribute to the long run vision of success.
- Are sensitive to gender impacts
- Innovators are expected to assess how individuals of all genders access, experience or benefit from a given innovation, and to ensure that innovations are designed to mitigate identified gender risks and maximise opportunities to achieve gender equality outcomes.
- Are cognisant of climate risk and opportunities
- Innovators should consider the potential of their innovation to contribute to climate adaptation and resilience for those living in poverty, as well as assess the climate risks to their innovation (the extent to which success is exposed to climate risk) as well as the climate risks arising from the innovation (how the innovation may contribute to adverse climate outcomes).
What they do not fund?
- GIF is open to innovations which meet the criteria in any sector or country. However, there are some activities they do not fund. These include:
- Theoretical research, or purely lab-based activities that are not linked to implementation of a specific proposed real-world pilot or demonstration project.
- Approaches that are only applicable in a single country (unless the innovation is expected to scale to a large proportion of one of the world’s most populous developing countries).
- Innovations that involve supporting a political candidate or party.
- Innovations where the primary purpose is to support the broader innovation ecosystem, such as incubators, accelerators, or other innovation funds.
- Innovations involving any product or activity deemed illegal under applicable laws or regulations or subject to internationally agreed phase-outs or bans as defined in global conventions and agreements (such as dealing with certain hazardous chemicals or ozone depleting substances, and any activity endangering protected wildlife).
- Innovations that involve production or use of luxury goods, soliciting prostitution or engaging in human trafficking, terrorist activity, or use of prohibited drugs, gambling and pornography.
- Any type of organisation may apply. This includes social enterprises, for-profit companies, non-profit organisations, government agencies, international organisations, and research institutions in any country. It is recommended that individual innovators, entrepreneurs or researchers apply through an affiliated organisation.
For more information, visit Global Innovation Fund.
Deadline: Ongoing Opportunity