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AgResults: A Framework for Evaluating Innovation Challenges

Abigail Conrad, Tulika Narayan, Judy Geyer, and Stephen Bell, Abt Associates. Luciano Kay, University of California Santa Barbara.

Report

January 12, 2017
Prize contests have sparked historical technological breakthroughs, such as the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris, the first gasoline powered-automobile, and even margarine. During the last 15 years, governments and philanthropists have increasingly held prize contests — often called innovation challenges — to spark creative solutions to thorny social problems, from nutrient pollution in U.S. waterways to the $118 million AgResults global initiative.
 
But despite hundreds of recent innovation challenges, we have limited information about their impact, as only a fraction have been systematically evaluated. In late 2016, the U.S. Government asked Abt Associates to propose a framework and key questions for rigorously evaluating innovation challenges. This framework — based on Abt’s work to evaluate brucellosis vaccine development under AgResults — can be applied to any innovation challenge to determine if it’s the best approach to solve a problem.

Our brief includes the framework and key questions about performance, cost, design and implementation, along with examples of evaluation approaches. 

Regions
Sub-Saharan Africa
North America