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A practical handbook for using prizes to help solve development challenges

While innovation inducement prizes have a historic pedigree, particularly in the early development of aviation, they have only recently been used to solve development challenges. To find out the value that innovation prizes offer compared to more traditional ways of funding development, the action research programme Ideas to Impact was created, funded by UK Aid from the UK Government.

Between 2014 and 2020, a £10.9 million component of the Ideas to Impact programme designed, ran and evaluated a set of global and country focussed innovation prizes. These targeted a range of problems, from incentivising the development of services that provide farmers with access to climate information in Kenya to spurring Ghana’s local government to improve urban sanitation to benefit the poor, to stimulating the market for off-grid refrigerators in sub-Saharan Africa.

Along the way, the consortium delivering Ideas to Impact, led by UK consultancy IMC Worldwide, has gathered and documented its learning on the practice of using prizes for development. We are pleased to share this learning with you through this publication.

In 2015, Ideas to Impact published a guide by Vivid Economics ‘Innovation prizes: a guide for use in a developing country context’ on how to determine whether an innovation prize is the right tool for the task at hand. This handbook, drawing on learning acquired over the past six years, builds on that foundation to help readers appreciate the practical aspects of designing and running innovation prizes and how to give them their best chance for success