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The Science of Scaling: Building Evidence to Advance Anti-Poverty Innovations

September 26, 2016 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Conference Summary:

The Development Impact Lab (DIL), headquartered at UC Berkeley and funded by USAID, has developed a new approach to innovation in the context of global development. The approached–called “Development Engineering (Dev Eng)”–merges advances in engineering with insights from the behavioral and social sciences. In addition to providing a robust, interdisciplinary framework for designing and testing new technologies in the field, DIL encourages researchers to build scale into the R&D process, from the beginning.

Yet the precise barriers to scale are often ill-defined. There are few generalizable mechanisms for scaling evidence-based interventions in emerging markets. To learn from ongoing efforts, DIL is hosting our annual State of the Science conference on The Science of Scaling:

The conference will bring together academic researchers, development practitioners, technology developers, and investors to review the evidence on scaling successful anti-poverty innovations–particularly those developed at universities. Are there proven methods for technology transfer from university to government agencies and non-governmental organizations? Why do some products and interventions scale quicker than others? What facilitates the adoption of new technologies by end-users? This event will explore these questions and help articulate a research agenda for the “Science of Scaling”.

This call for abstracts focuses on the following topic areas:

– How does scaling through governments differ from scaling through the private sector, social enterprises, or non-profit enterprises? Can private sector tactics around scaling technologies inform academic or public sector efforts, and if so, how?

– How does the process of scale-up in the global development sector differ from industries like pharma, consumer ICT, and agroprocessing?

– What happens to evidence-based interventions– and their effectiveness– when transferred to new contexts or settings? When translating a pilot into large-scale delivery, how important is the issue of “external validity” in practice?

– What novel framework(s), if any, should be considered to analyze how development technologies scale out of universities? What political or civil society infrastructure is required to ensure the sustainability of a large-scale intervention?

– What data should researchers and implementers capture to improve the chances that university-led innovations achieve scale?

– What critical questions are not being considered? (What are we, as researchers and implementers, missing?)

This one-day conference will be anchored in the burgeoning field of development engineering, with insights for other disciplines. Sessions will include oral paper/research presentations, plenary sessions, and facilitated networking sessions bringing together stakeholder groups. We hope that new evidence, as well as novel research endeavors and new or strengthened collaborations will emerge from this meeting, ultimately ensuring that more technologies are able to rapidly scale to meet the demand of consumers in emerging markets.



September 26, 2016
8:00 am - 5:00 pm


Development Impact Lab


100 Blum Hall
Blum Hall, Haviland Road, Berkeley, CA 94720 United States
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