Overcoming the Biggest Challenges in Frontier Tech: Introducing the Playbook…

Asad Rahman
Feb 4, 2019 · 3 min read

What is the Playbook?

The potential of frontier technologies to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges has never been greater.

Two years of experience implementing frontier tech has taught us that technology’s potential to unlock positive progress is often hampered by things that have nothing to do with technology at all. Regulatory concerns, business model sustainability, supply chain logistics and other intangible cross-cutting challenges have all been faced by our pioneering teams all over the world.

The Frontier Technology Playbook is a set of activities, strategies and methods that anyone anywhere can use to apply cutting edge technology to complex, high-stakes environments.

These plays showcase the smart, quick, cheap and often counter-intuitive ways in which our partners around the world have worked through and around the most common challenges. Currently at version 1, we will keep adding more plays as we go.

The 12 plays (v1)

Click here to download the entire v1 Playbook (PDF).


The 6 key challenges

For our v1 Playbook, we surveyed all of our Frontier Technology Livestreaming pilots. From a long-list of 20+ challenges, six were identified as ‘key’: encountered most frequently and with greatest intensity. All of our plays help mitigate one or more of these challenges.

1. Regulatory barriers: a non-favourable regulatory environment i.e. it is non-existent, not keeping pace with technological change, difficult and costly to engage, and so on.

2. Supply chain infrastructure: the supply chain infrastructure is not good enough to support the tech operating at scale

3. Skills infrastructure & ecosystem: there is a shortage of technical skills for local installation and maintenance of tech, or a lack of local ecosystem to develop and sustain the technology.

4. Fitting into existing systems: the tech isn’t a fit for existing planning, decision making, execution or implementation systems in the country or domain area

5. Sustainability post-pilot stage: The tech use case is not sustainable post pilot stage, either through donor funding, private investment, government take up or commercial revenue.

6. Awareness building: Our end user (person or organisation) isn’t aware of the tech or its benefits.


These plays all took place on our Frontier Technology Livestreaming programme, which is working with the UK Dept. for International Development’s (DfID) people to apply tech to the biggest challenges in Development.

Frontier Technologies Hub

Working with the UK Dept. for International Development to apply frontier technologies to the biggest challenges in development.

Asad Rahman

Written by

Applying tech and innovation to international development with UKAid. Follow us here: https://medium.com/frontier-technology-livestreaming

Frontier Technologies Hub

Working with the UK Dept. for International Development to apply frontier technologies to the biggest challenges in development.

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