What is Frontier Technology Livestreaming?

Our programme in three 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) Seed funding to enable small-scale testing of the technology via a pilot.

We provide up to £100k of funding to each idea. This is significant enough to enable small scale implementation, but purposefully lean 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.

  • (2) Matchmaking DFID Advisors with technology entrepeneurs and innovators.

We believe that matching our DFID Advisors — with their deep expertise in development challenges — and tech/innovation experts — 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 150+ others on our database!

Lean impact is our method for systematically addressing uncertainty through rapid testing and learning. 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 portfolio.

We are currently operating 16 pilots in 9 counties in South Asia and Africa (see below).

Our pilots have emerged from three ‘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.

Some themes/clusters that have emerged include:

  • Drones: Can a drone make quicker, safer, more effective delieveries than traditional mechanisms? Our mini-portfolio of drone pilots is at the forefront of answering this question in the health and humanitarian aid domains. As well as this, we are also investigating the potential of drone-imagery to gather intelligence. Read Sam Sherman’s story about one of our drone pilots here.
  • Electric Vehicles (EV): can EVs enhance mobility while making our cities less polluted? Our portfolio looks to answer this question both by testing new electric motos (read about this here), and the viaibility of EVs using energy from solar mini-grids (and read about this here).
  • Connectivity & Development: how do we bring internet connectivity to remote places? What development challenges can be answered by the power of an internet connection? From “smart” vending machines distributing contraception (read about this here), to humanitatian supply chains on the blockchain (read about this here), our connectivity theme looks to answer these two questions.

How we started.

From everything around us, we know that new technologies are disrupting and reshaping individuals, socieities 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. These are:

  1. Manufacturing & Consumption (3D Printing, Collaborative Economy Tools, etc.)
  2. Connectivity (Internet of Things, Blockchain, etc.)
  3. Transport & Logistics (Drones, Airships, Machine Learning, etc.)
  4. Fresh Water (Solar Desalination, Atmospheric Water Condensers, etc.)
  5. Clean Energy & Air (Household scale batteries, Smog reducing tech)

Frontier Livestreaming Technology was born from wanting to apply this research to real life scenarios around the world.

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, please get in touch with me or Lea Simpson.