The Development Impact Lab (DIL) hosts a series of conferences each year, including the annual State of the Science Conference. These provide opportunities for experts from universities, NGOs, government agencies, social enterprises, and private industry to share ideas and articulate new perspectives, research priorities, and opportunities.

To get involved in conference organizing, propose themes for future conferences, or submit general questions, contact us.

The Development Impact Lab 2016 State of the Science Conference
The Science of Scaling: Building Evidence to Advance Anti-Poverty Innovations

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”.

The conference will focus 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.

When and where is the Science of Scaling Conference taking place?
The conference will take place on Monday September 26th throughout the day and will take place at The Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley. Address and directions here.

How can I submit an abstract? What are the requirements?
Abstracts can be submitted via this link. The word limit is 250 words and the deadline to submit is May 15th. Please email Heather Lofthouse at should you have any questions.

I would like to contribute/present but I do not wish to submit an abstract. Is this possible?
We are giving first preference for presentation slots for those who submit abstracts during our abstract call. However, should you wish to participate/present and not submit an abstract please email

Partners/Donors: UC Berkeley | USAID | Center for Effective Global Action | Blum Center for Developing Economies


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Past Events

TechCon 2014

November 8 – November 10, 2014
University of California, Berkeley

Join the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN), and the Development Impact Lab (DIL) for TechCon 2014: Connecting to accelerate global development.

HESN TechCon 2014 is a unique convening of academics, students, development experts, field practitioners and the private sector focused on innovative approaches to solution creation, testing, scaling for international development. TechCon 2014 will showcase the innovations and innovators coming out of HESN’s Development Labs that have been produced both in the lab and with development beneficiaries through the Network.

Program Highlights:

  • Interactive sessions that aim to highlight new innovations and data from the Development Labs
  • Opportunity to learn from development professionals, industry leaders, discuss development challenges with leading academics, “investing” in new solutions in the innovation marketplace
  • TED Talk–style keynotes
  • Small group challenge sessions
  • “Shark Tank” pitch competition
  • Opportunities for networking and spontaneous “unconference” sessions

Register for the event here. If you have specific comments or questions, please contact us at

State of the Science 2014 Conference: Revealing the Demand for Pro-poor Innovation

March 7, 2014
Georgetown University, Washington, DC
Fisher Colloquium, McDonough School of Business, Rafik B. Hariri Building (MAP)

Download: Agenda | White Paper | Event FlierConference Report
For more materials from the event, including presentations and photos, visit USAID’s Learning Lab website.

Many barriers hinder the take-up and diffusion of promising innovations that could substantially improve the lives of the poor. New technologies are often inappropriately designed, unaffordable, or inaccessible to those they seek to serve. How can we better capture the demand from consumers at the bottom of the economic pyramid? How can we facilitate the adoption and scale-up of promising pro-poor innovations?

How can we facilitate the adoption and scale-up of promising pro-poor innovations?

The conference will create a forum for technologists, social scientists, NGOs, and policymakers to exchange tools for measuring low-income communities’ preferences, demand, and willingness to pay for new technologies. We hope that project ideas will emerge from this dialogue, enabling new technologies to rapidly evolve to meet the demand of consumers in low and middle-income countries.

Remote and low-resource settings often lack the infrastructure used in wealthier countries to collect consumer data. Instead, international development practitioners and engineers have traditionally relied on small-scale, infrequent surveys and focus groups to capture households’ self-reported preferences. These methods can be costly to implement and prone to measurement errors.

In recent years, however, social scientists and engineers have developed novel techniques to more accurately capture information from underserved communities. These include participatory data collection methods, qualitative approaches, behavioral experiments, low-cost meters and sensors, and large digital data streams.

The convening will include presentations of some of the most recent tools developed for revealing demand; critical reviews of the design and deployment strategies of promising technology innovations; and case-specific breakout sessions fostering inter-disciplinary networking and partnership opportunities.

Sponsors: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), USAID Higher Education Solutions Network, Development Impact Lab (DIL), UC Berkeley Blum Center for Developing Economies, UC Berkeley Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), UC Berkeley Institute of International Studies (IIS), Georgetown University Initiative on Innovation, Development, and Evaluation (gui2de)

Download: Agenda | White Paper | Event FlierConference Report

Please contact Guillaume Kroll (gkroll [at] berkeley [dot] edu) with any questions.