What is Frontier Technology Livestreaming?
Our programme in four minutes
What we do
Frontier Technology Livestreaming is helping UKAid apply frontier technologies to the biggest challenges in development.
We work with Dept. for International Development (DFID) Advisors around the world to rapidly test whether a technology might solve a development challenge. We do this by providing:
(1) Funding to pilot new ideas
We provide seed funding to each idea — enough for an 18-month pilot. Crucially, the amount we provide is kept purposefully small so that we haven’t invested too much in something that might not work. Exiting quickly where tests haven’t met our initial beliefs have been some of the biggest successes and strongest learning opportunities of this programme.
Our funding is also un-tied to any particular type of activity — our only criteria is that we are spending money to learn as much as possible about the potential of a frontier technology.
(2) Matchmaking DFID Advisors with technology specialists and innovators
We believe that matching our DFID Advisors — with their deep expertise in development challenges — and technologists — with their deep expertise in frontier technology — is a winning combination in ensuring problem-solution fit in situations of considerable uncertainty.
If you are a person or organisation with interesting technology and a desire to apply it for global good, join 200+ others on our database!
(3) Support to work in new, agile ways with the Frontier Tech Hub
Our dedicated Frontier Tech Hub combines innovation, governance and programme management expertise. A crucial component of the Hub’s support is helping pilot teams apply methods like lean start-up, lean impact and human centred design during the pilot. Read more about our method here.
We believe that emphasising learning and changing our mind (rather than following a fixed plan) is the best way to approach frontier technology in complex environments.
Our sister programme is Frontier Technology Futures — an immersive week long experience designed to build the local tech connections and capabilities of DFID departments and country offices.
We are currently operating 22 pilots in 12 countries in South Asia and Africa (see below).
Our pilots have emerged from four ‘calls’ to DFID Advisors globally for ideas as to how frontier technologies might solve development challenges. We hope to both grow (with more ideas) and shrink (with more exits and scale-ups) our portfolio over time.
A sample of themes/clusters that have emerged include:
- UAVs: UAVs are starting to establish well-defined use cases in disaster response, supply chains, and infrastructure management. Our UAV portfolio seeks to answer the remaining questions before UAVs become mainstream: how might we establish cost-effective business models? How might we fit UAV usage into existing systems in humanitarian response and healthcare, where lives are at stake? How might we better engage communities and ecosystems? How might we influence regulation?
- Frontier Connectivity: What could we unlock by bringing well established connectivity mechanisms to frontier environments? Our portfolio is bringing wireless mesh networks to marketplaces in peri-urban areas, learning boxes to refugee camps in Burma, and e-commerce to small business owners in rural Nigeria.
- Mobility: Who are the target users and what are the business models that will enable electric vehicles to get a foothold in emerging markets? We’re learning around this question with electric moto taxis in Rwanda and electric motorbikes as mini-grid load balancers in Kenya. We’re also looking at how GPS, mobile money and solar lamps can be stacked onto bikes to create a sustainable pay-as-you-go bikes scheme in Zambia.
The Playbook showcases some of the best activities, strategies and methods our pilots have used to overcome the most common challenges in implementing frontier tech.
From simulating technology to overcoming regulation, to our top tips for successful investor interviews, to getting local students involved as a valuable source of local skills. You can read about all of our plays as they emerge on the Playbook’s dedicated Medium page
How we started
From everything around us, we know that new technologies are disrupting and reshaping individuals, societies and economies. From this, interest has surged in the potential of novel technologies to also contribute to positive change in global development and humanitarian contexts.
Against this background, the Department for International Development (DFID) commissioned the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) to undertake a review of frontier technologies in five areas.
Frontier Livestreaming Technology was born from wanting to apply this research to real life scenarios around the world.
You can read the original report from IDS here.
Stay in touch!
Follow the Medium page for a live stream of updates on our programme, pilots and lean impact method.
If you want to find out more or have a question, drop us a line: FTLenquiries@imcworldwide.com