The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded grants to seven universities in the U.S. and abroad to support innovative and cost effective ways to improve quality of life in developing countries. The program will receive $130 million over five years, plus matching funds from participating universities.

“This is USAID trying to build a DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] for development,” says Alex Dehgan, the agency’s science adviser. DARPA is a military research program that has been successful in backing high-risk, high reward projects. Among its successes is the creation of the Internet.

Funded “development labs” will focus on activities such as the intersection of poverty, conflict, and food insecurity; resilience of African communities against natural and political stresses; and technologies to improve healthcare delivery.


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