USAID’s Ebola Grand Challenge Gives The World A Voice In Innovation

Billy Mitchell | FedScoop | October 31, 2014

The fight against Ebola is one with global context — no nation or population is exempt from the disease or the responsibility to stop its spread. That’s why the U.S. Agency for International Development, instead of proposing its own set of solutions, has issued a grand challenge, crowdsourcing the innovation of people around the world to improve the tools, equipment, diagnostics and other measures to halt the contagion.

USAID’s Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development, in partnership with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is a two-pronged approach to answer the question: How might we better equip and empower the health care community to fight Ebola? While the main awards-based challenge is open to small companies, nonprofits and other entities with expertise in relevant areas, USAID realized it was critical to give everyone a voice to combat this epidemic. So, it’s also using OpenIDEO, a digital crowdsourcing platform on which anyone from around the world can pose thoughts on how to improve care and stop Ebola’s spread.

“Anyone can go post an idea on this big open platform, and they can then seek feedback from a wide variety of creative thinkers and experts,” Wendy Taylor, director of the Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact at USAID, told FedScoop. “It’s really an incredibly powerful way to bring many people into the conversation and seek a wide variety of solutions.”...