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Calling All Innovators! New Innovation Challenge Seeks Nontraditional Applicants

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Two men stand near a long array of solar panels
Photo credit: USAID/Yemen
Dec 12, 2022

The next breakthrough in international development is out there, and maybe it’s you who will have a big idea that will transform development. At least that’s what USAID is hoping with its Powering a Just Energy Transition Green Minerals Challenge (JET Minerals Challenge)

The JET Minerals Challenge, which is open until January 9, 2023, will disperse cash prizes totaling up to $3 million ($25,000–$400,000 each) to organizations with promising innovations to address corruption across green mineral supply chains. As the description states, “New and emergent green energy technologies, ranging from electric vehicles batteries to solar panels, rely on more than two dozen ‘green minerals’ that will be critical to a successful shift away from fossil fuels… Yet without a significant course correction and investment in new, innovative approaches to addressing corruption, countries rich with green minerals will face the same resource curse that has plagued so many oil-rich countries.” This challenge welcomes early-stage ideas, prototypes, and/or proven solutions seeking validation and scaling.

Issuing innovation challenges like the JET Minerals Challenge is one way that the Agency encourages a broader set of partners, particularly nontraditional partners, to contribute out-of-the-box solutions to intractable development problems, such as corruption. These challenges have a successful track record of bringing in new ideas from an expansive array of organizations.

The JET Minerals Challenge’s eligibility requirements have been kept as broad as possible to attract diverse applications. The Challenge is open to legally registered entities in any non-restricted country, including nongovernmental organizations, community-based organizations, civil society organizations, faith-based organizations, international nongovernmental organizations, private universities and other academic institutions, research institutions and think tanks, private sector companies, and consortiums, partnerships, cooperatives, and other existing forms of collaboration (submitted by one lead partner). USAID especially encourages applications from organizations led by, or serving, women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, and LGBTQI+ communities.

The Challenge.gov site makes it easy to track and share this challenge and others from across the U.S. federal government, and the submission process for the Jet Minerals Challenge has been pared back to a short concept note, budget, and a few accompanying documents.

Applicants who make it to the semi-finals round will be invited to participate in a virtual innovation event at the second Summit for Democracy, as well as an Innovation Bootcamp, gaining access to formal and informal networking and mentoring to further refine their ideas.

Is your organization up to the challenge? Find out more at one of USAID’s upcoming webinars on December 13, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. EST and December 14, 2022, at 9:00 p.m. EST.