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.

Development Engineering & the Fight Against Poverty
Monday, June 4, 2018 | UC Berkeley

The Development Impact Lab’s (DIL) State of the Science 2018 conference, Development Engineering & the Fight Against Poverty, will be held on Monday, June 4, 2018 at UC Berkeley’s Blum Center for Developing Economies. Each year DIL hosts a “State of the Science” conference to help define the research agenda for topics relevant to technology, poverty and global development. These one-day conferences are anchored in the field of Development Engineering, a discipline focused on the discovery of scalable technologies that reduce poverty and promote sustainable development.

The 2018 conference will review progress in the field of Development Engineering, and help chart a course forward. Sessions will highlight emerging evidence and scale-ups resulting from DIL’s last five years, as well as new research projects that DIL is launching. We will also share our experience forging a new discipline that integrates engineering advances with insights from economics and the social sciences.

Please join us to hear updates from DIL-funded researchers, and to participate in interactive discussions focused on two key research thrusts:

  • Energy and reliability: Is more reliable electricity needed to fuel development? What have we learned from studies of energy access in developing countries thus far?
  • Cash as a benchmark: How do digital cash transfers compare with traditional development programs? Can we even compare the two?

If you would like to attend, please RSVP here.

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


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Past Events

State of the Science 2016: The Science Of Scaling

The Development Impact Lab 2016 State of the Science Conference
The Science of Scaling: Building Evidence to Advance Anti-Poverty Innovations
Monday, September 26 | UC Berkeley

Register for the conference here | View the latest Agenda here

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”.

Conference Themes:

  • Enabling Scale with Technology
  • Testing at Scale
  • External Validity: Multi-cluster studies – Same Hypothesis, Different Settings
  • Mixed-Methods Research for Scaling DevEng Innovations
  • Subject Area Spotlight: Education Interventions at Scale
  • The Media: Creating Pressure Groups to Promote Scale Up

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


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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.