Devex Innovators Forum spotlights products, services and systems development

A host of leaders convened in Washington April 21 for the Devex Innovators Forum, an event to celebrate innovation in international development cooperation. During a vibrant panel discussion and reception, public and private sector guests highlighted the need for continued innovation in development products and services, but also in systems – from procurement to tax law and beyond.

The exclusive event featured officials representing the donors, implementing NGOs, consultancies and advocacy groups named earlier in the week as the Devex Top 40 Development Innovators, including Plan International, Aga Khan Development Network, BRAC, DAI, Management Sciences for Health and Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

>> The Results Are in: Devex Top 40 Development Innovators

Devex President Raj Kumar kicked off the evening at the House of Sweden in D.C.‘s Georgetown neighborhood, welcoming roughly 100 guests including Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams and White House Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation Sonal Shah, and saluting the global aid community’s contributions to international development.

In his keynote speech, Intel Corp. Chief Strategist Christopher S. Thomas challenged the aid community to engage thought leaders from all corners of the earth – IT wizards, entrepreneurs, business leaders, advocates and government officials alike – in a global exchange to facilitate learning, partnership and development results. Thomas called it an “innovation cloud,” in reference to cloud computing, which allows users to share computer functions by connecting, via the Internet or direct connection, to a specialized data center.

Thomas leads a small team within Intel that is assisting a variety innovative development partnerships through NetHope, a consortium of organizations focusing on technology.

Thomas joined Shah and Kumar as well as Shorebank International Executive Vice President Jan Piercy and Millennium Promise CEO John McArthur for a spirited panel discussion that highlighted innovations in mHealth and impact investing, among others, but also featured the risks and challenges in pursuing innovation and reform.

“Communities of ideas have not merged,” McArthur noted.

“We’ve got to be willing to be more uncomfortable,” said Sonal Shah, suggesting (like other speakers) the need for more partnership and pay-for-success schemes to boost innovation. Shah’s office administers the Social Innovation Fund – just one small example, she said, of how the Obama administration seeks to encourage innovation.

Throughout the event, presented with media partner “GOOD magazine,” attendees took the conversation online via a lively Twitter chat using the hashtag #innov8dev.

Check out the full listing of all Devex Top 40 Development Innovators on Facebook. And continue reading the Devex Development Innovators Blog.

About the author

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    Rolf Rosenkranz

    Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.