Higher Education Global Evidence Summit: Evidence on Higher Education and Innovation
Innovation Week Summary
About Innovation Week
Recognizing that higher education is often the catalyst for innovation and solutions to global challenges, Question 6 of USAID’s Higher Education Learning Agenda asks: How can higher education systems and higher education institutions play a more active role in the development and strengthening of national and regional innovation ecosystems? Twenty-five Summit sessions demonstrated how higher education institutions around the world are leading this innovation ecosystem and contributing in so many ways.
An additional resource that helps to address this learning agenda question is the USAID Center for Education’s Higher Education and Innovation Ecosystems Evidence Primer. This document provides a snapshot of the research on what works in higher education and innovation ecosystems.
Click here to visit our YouTube playlist with all recorded sessions from Innovation Week.
Innovation Week Plenaries
Curiosity is a Survival Skill: How to Learn, Adapt, and Be Brave
- Alexis Bonnell, Senior Business Executive: Emerging Technology Evangelist, Google
Higher education institutions have offered some of the most promising settings for new ideas and innovations to thrive, in part because this is where students, faculty, and staff can collaborate in their thinking and are encouraged to be curious. Curiosity is the currency of innovative organizations, cultures, and even countries. Although the pursuit of our curiosity can be risky and uncomfortable, it can also allow us to generate or find the evidence that we need to hold ourselves accountable and contribute to positive development outcomes. Genuine curiosity about the wants and needs of our communities is a necessary orientation for locally-led development to become a reality. For all these reasons and more, USAID’s former Chief Innovation Officer, Alexis Bonnell, inspired us to stay curious to support our learning throughout the Summit and in our work beyond.
Innovation Day 1 Closing Plenary
- Eric Bergthold, Executive Director, Office of International Development, University of Arizona and Member, USAID Higher Education Learning Network Steering Group
- James Odede, Founder, Lakehub and Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer, AquaRech
- LeAnna Marr, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator and Acting Senior Coordinator of United States International Basic Education Assistance, Bureau for Development, Democracy and Innovation (DDI), USAID
WMGIC: A Student-Led Innovation Challenge for Applied Learning and Development Problem-Solving
- Thomas (Huan-Cheng) Liu, Gates Scholar and Senior, The College of William & Mary
- Hannah Garfinkel, Graduate Student, The College of William & Mary
- Isaac K. Narteh, Student, Berea College
The William and Mary Global Innovation Challenge (WMGIC) encourages and facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration and applied learning opportunities among students, policymakers, practitioners, and researchers by bringing innovative and sustainable perspectives to solve complex global issues. The student organizers of the competition shared the “WMGIC Model,” a flagship competition on international and sustainable development. Participants had the opportunity to experience the fast-thinking, nimble problem solving, and crazy dreaming of an innovation challenge competition, as well as hear the winning pitch from the 2022 competition. By partnering together, the development and higher education communities can learn how to join this movement to unleash student innovation and solve problems together.
Assume Nothing: Catalyzing Innovation Ecosystems Through and With Higher Education
- Ticora V. Jones, Chief Scientist, USAID
- Patrick Awuah, Founder and President, Ashesi University
- Bernice T. Dahn, Vice President for Health Sciences, University of Liberia
- Dorothy Okello, Dean, School of Engineering, Makerere University
Higher education systems and institutions are expected, particularly by the national governments and foreign donors who fund them, to go beyond the traditional endpoint of academic research to provide innovative and practical solutions to economic and social problems. Higher education systems and institutions cannot do this alone, and more guidance on how to develop inter-institutional relationships that promote innovation in developing countries is needed. This panel discussion featured stories from representatives of higher education institutions and networks in Africa that have integrated innovation approaches into their institutions at different scales.
Innovation Day 2 Closing Plenary
- Kabelo Mahlobogwane, MD, Thuli Mandonsela Foundation and Founder, The Marking App
Submit new resources to support this learning agenda here.