This fall, problem solvers from around the globe will convene at MIT to explore and share innovative approaches to addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Co-hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and two MIT programs — the International Development Innovation Network and the Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation — TechCon 2016 will take place Nov. 10-12. The three-day conference will explore the growing emphasis on the importance of innovation in local communities to solve development challenges.
The conference’s sessions, keynotes, and workshops will explore four themes: enabling innovation and building innovation ecosystems; measuring impact and generating evidence; producing actionable research; and creating next-generation practitioners and partnerships.
TechCon will bring together the students, faculty, and staff that make up the Higher Education Solutions Network, as well as social entrepreneurs, private sector representatives, government officials, and development practitioners interested in novel approaches to traditional development challenges.
Established in 2012, the Higher Education Solutions Network is a partnership between the U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID and eight development labs at seven world-class universities, including MIT. This network is fueled by the ingenuity and passion of university students, researchers, faculty, grassroots innovators, and their partners who incubate, catalyze, and scale science- and tech-based solutions to the world’s most challenging development problems.
Students and other young professionals are invited to submit international development projects in the form of prototype or research to the Innovation Marketplace, a three-round competition that will take place at the conference. Participants in the competition will receive technical feedback, strengthen their pitching skills, gain exposure, and build support for their project for the chance to win a prize. Prizes are yet to be announced, but in the past have included cash and in-kind investments in the project itself. Innovation Marketplace applications are open through May 31.
Additionally, there is an open call for conference session and workshop proposals for those who are interested in being more than just a conference participant. A strong proposal outlines a session or workshop that is interactive and engaging in addition to adding new knowledge to the international development space and reflecting the diverse voices of the international development community. The call for proposals is open through June 24.
Registration for the conference is first-come, first-served and will open in summer 2016.